Risa Jaroslow to Premiere TOUCH BASS at ODC This April

Risa Jaroslow + Dancers has announced its return to ODC this April in the world premiere of TOUCH BASS an evening-length work conceived and directed by acclaimed veteran choreographer Risa Jaroslow in collaboration with Bay Area bassist and composer Lisa Mezzacappa, named "one of the most imaginative figures on the Bay Area creative jazz scene" (The Mercury News).

Touch Bass features an ensemble of three dancers - Scott Marlowe, Tara McArthurand Lauren Simpson - and three acoustic bassists - Mezzacappa, Eric Perney and Matt Small - moving on stage together. Touch Bass runs April 27 - 30, 2017, with performances Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m, and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets from $20 to $45 will become available after January 19 at odc.dance/tickets.

Touch Bass continues Jaroslow's longstanding practice of combining trained and "non-trained" dancers in performance. "But it marks the first time I've choreographed musicians and their instruments. Because of the sheer size of a double bass, this is not a minor choice," said Jaroslow. "The instruments are just as much characters on stage as the performers."

Jaroslow's mother was a professional bass player, performing with several major orchestras from the 1940s to 70s. "I remember as a child watching her practice at home. I remember how enormous it looked standing upright in a corner of the living room. And I've loved the instrument from that early age," explained Jaroslow. "I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to pay homage to my mother who was a woman ahead of her time."

Jaroslow first met Mezzacappa in the course of making and performing Resist/Surrender, which ran at ODC Dance Commons in 2015. Mezzacappa was a member of the evening's chamber ensemble. Jaroslow was drawn to Mezzacappa as a female bassist, and the two began experimenting in the studio soon after. Touch Bassis the culmination of these first experiments. Though Mezzacappa's work as a composer and performer has often intersected with film, video, literature and the visual arts, Touch Bass marks her first major collaboration with a choreographer.

Mezzacappa and Jaroslow in turn invited two more bass players to join the cast. The musicians will perform a live score composed by Mezzacappa, exploring the wide range of sonic possibilities available on the acoustic bass, from abstract textures to driving dance rhythms inspired by Bartók and Piazzolla, to jazz groove and classical lyricism. An electronic component created from layers of recorded and manipulated acoustic bass sounds will offer opportunities for the musicians and their instruments to move with the dancers.

"The relationships that are created between the dancers and musicians, the music and the movement, the people and the basses are tender, awkward, funny - as wide ranging as all relationships," said Jaroslow.

Additional members of the creative team include Jack Beuttler as lighting designer and Mary Domenico as costume designer.

For more information about Risa Jaroslow & Dancers, visit risajaroslowdance.org.


Since 2013 Risa Jaroslow has resided in the Bay Area where she has continued to dance, choreograph, teach and mentor. Formerly based in New York City, her company regularly performed at Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Joyce Theater, Central Park Summerstage and the Duke Theater, among others. The company has performed nationally and at international festivals including The Dublin Dance Festival and The OPEN LOOK Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Jaroslow has taught at colleges and universities including Adelphi University, Trinity College and the Pratt Institute. She has conducted extended residencies with Kannon Dance in St. Petersburg, Russia, and at the University of Maryland and American University. From 1993 to 2002 she conducted a yearly residency in Bytom, Poland. Jaroslow has been a guest choreographer at Sonoma State University and Mills College and a guest mentor for Margaret Jenkins Dance Company's CHIME program.

In 1988, Jaroslow created Arts at University Settlement, a neighborhood arts program serving New York City's Lower East Side. The program and theater space she created continue to serve the neighborhood and downtown dance and performance artists.

Jaroslow is dedicated to including diverse communities as participants and audience. She has led movement workshops with The Initiative for Women with Disabilities; Project FIND, an organization serving senior adults; Youth Enrichment Services, serving gay and lesbian youth; and Voices of Women, serving survivors of domestic violence.

Her work has been supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Ford Foundation, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, the Jerome Robbins Trust, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, NewMusicUSA and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.


Lisa Mezzacappa is a San Francisco Bay Area composer, bassist and producer. Called "one of the most imaginative figures on the Bay Area creative jazz scene" (The Mercury News) and "a Bay Area treasure" (KQED), she has been an active part of California's vibrant experimental music community for more than 15 years. Mezzacappa's activities as a composer and bandleader include ethereal chamber music, electro-acoustic works, avant-garde jazz, music for groups from duo to large ensemble, and collaborations with film, video, sculpture and installation art. Recent projects include works inspired by noir crime fiction; by Victorian lady adventurers; and by vintage Italian science fiction comic books. Her many awards include grants from the MAP Fund, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Zellerbach and Wattis Foundations, among others. For more information visit lisamezzacappa.com.

Pictured: From left, Tara McArthur, Lisa Mezzacappa and Scott Marlowe. Photo by Margo Moritz.

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