Damian Woetzel's DEMO Series to Continue at Kennedy Center, 4/22-23

By: Mar. 16, 2016

Damian Woetzel continues his DEMO series uniting artists around a common theme, April 22-23, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. This installment of the multi-genre series features Memphis jookin' dance pioneer Lil Buck, along with fellow jooker Ron "Prime Tyme" Myles, and musicians Sandeep Das (tabla), Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Cristina Pato (gaita), Wu Tong (sheng), David Teie (cello), and singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist Kate Davis. This adventurous cast of musicians and dancers will explore, through their performances, the worlds they came from, collaboratively reinventing their own instruments and art forms around the theme of Place.

The first Kennedy Center DEMO performance centered around the theme of Time, and featured artists including iconic dancer and actress Carmen de Lavallade, New York City Ballet Principal dancer and star of Broadway's American in Paris Robert Fairchild, actor, clown, and comedian Bill Irwin, and New York City Ballet ballerina and star of the Kennedy Center's Little Dancer, Tiler Peck.

DEMO: Place features the Memphis jookin' dancer Lil Buck, whom the New York Times has dubbed "a dazzling prodigy." Since coming to the world's attention in 2011 after being paired by Damian Woetzel in a performance with Yo-Yo Ma, Lil Buck has worked with a wide range of artists demonstrating his unique collaborative gift. For these performances at Kennedy Center, Woetzel continues on that path by joining Lil Buck with an extraordinary co-starring array of international musicians in a program which includes both new pieces and critically acclaimed works including 2014's Tabla-ture in collaboration with tabla master Sandeep Das, and The Swan which originally catapulted Lil Buck to fame. New collaborations for DEMO include a first meeting between Lil Buck and the award-winning singer, songwriter, and bass player Kate Davis, who starred in the National Symphony Orchestra's 2015 Labor Day Capitol Concert.

"With this DEMO I wanted to take the audience on tour, inviting them along with Lil Buck as he takes on new musical challenges and collaborates with these extraordinary musicians from around the globe," said director Damian Woetzel. "I love the excitement of mixing artistic voices, and in DEMO: Place we will explore how we can collaborate across cultures even while we celebrate the distinctive ways our art forms define us."

Central to the Kennedy Center's 2015-2016 season is its artist-curated programming initiative across many of the Kennedy Center's key genres. In addition to DEMO, other artist-curated projects include Jason+, featuring Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran collaborating with his friends in other genres; and KC Jukebox with composer Mason Bates, presenting the works of living composers, integrating traditional works with new music and performing them in atypical venues throughout the Kennedy Center.

New York City Ballet Principal Dancer turned director, choreographer, and producer Damian Woetzel curates and hosts DEMO. Woetzel is currently the Artistic Director of the Vail International Dance Festival and the Director of Arts Programs for the Aspen Institute. Dubbed "the matchmaker" by the New York Times in 2013, Woetzel has earned acclaim over the last years for creating unusual combinations of music, dance, and theater, often engaging with the world of ideas, in venues varying from China's National Performing Arts Center to New York's Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Lil Buck began jookin'-a street dance that originated in Memphis-at age 13. After receiving early hip-hop training from Terran Gary, and ballet training on scholarship at the New Ballet Ensemble, he performed and choreographed in Memphis until relocating to Los Angeles in 2009. In 2011, Damian Woetzel paired Lil Buck with world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma to perform a rendition of The Swan at an event in Los Angeles. The performance was captured in a video by Spike Jonze and went viral, garnering over 3 million views to date. That success opened the door to future collaborations with a broad range of renowned artists, from Janelle Monae to JR, to the New York City Ballet and Madonna. Lil Buck was the 2011 artist-in-residence at the Vail International Dance Festival and also served as an artistic ambassador alongside Yo-Yo Ma at the U.S.-China Forum on the Arts and Culture in Beijing that same year. In 2013, among other performances he starred in the award-winning show, Lil Buck @ (le) Poisson Rouge, which was directed by Woetzel and featured Ma and an assortment of international musicians. Lil Buck has performed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with Madonna during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show and on her MDNA and Rebel Heart tours, and in the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One. He was chosen as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" in 2012, is an Aspen Institute Harman-Eisner Artist-in-Residence, and was named the Wall Street Journal's 2014 Performing Arts Innovator.

Bessie Award winner, Ron "Prime Tyme" Myles was born in Memphis, TN and specializes in jookin', a type of freestyle dance developed on the streets of Memphis. A long-time headliner at the Vail International Dance Festival, he has appeared in feature films such as Footloose (2011), Frank and Cindy (2014), and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip (2015), and has also starred in several commercials including Beats by Dre, Diet Pepsi (with Sofia Vergara), Kohl's, and Adidas Originals. One of the premier interpreters of jookin', Myles currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and performs around the world.

Grammy-nominee Sandeep Das is considered one of the leading tabla players today. A favorite disciple of legendary tabla maestro Pandit Kishan Maharaj ji of the Benaras Gharana, Das has carved out a niche for himself throughout the musical world. Sandeep has composed for and performed internationally with the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma since the group's founding in 2000. With the Ensemble, he performed at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York, has played the BBC Proms, and is the only Indian artist to have performed for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Shanghai. His 2003 recording with Ghazal was nominated for a Grammy Award, as was the Silk Road Ensemble's 2009 album Off the Map, which included Sulvasutra, a piece Evan Ziporyn composed for him. Successful from a young age, he performed with Ravi Shankar when he was just 16, and was later awarded the Most Valuable Young Musician Award by the President of India in 2004. As a cultural and educational entrepreneur, Sandeep recently founded HUM (Harmony and Universality through Music), an ensemble of world-class artists who work to promote global understanding through musical performance and education.

Johnny Gandelsman's musical voice reflects the artistic collaborations he has been a part of since moving to the United States from Moscow in 1995. Through his work with such artists as Yo-Yo Ma, Bono, David Byrne of the Talking Heads, James Levine, and others, Gandelsman has been able to integrate a wide range of creative sensibilities into his own point of view. Combining his classical training with a desire to reach beyond the boundaries of the concert hall and a voracious interest in the music of our times, Johnny has developed a unique style amongst today's violinists. A passionate advocate for new music, he has premiered dozens of works written for Brooklyn Rider and Silk Road Ensemble. In 2012-2013, he premiered works by Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, Vijay Iyer, Bela Fleck, and a violin concerto by Gonzalo Grau, commissioned for Johnny by Community Music Works, among others.

Galician bagpiper, pianist, and educator Cristina Pato enjoys an active professional career devoted to Galician popular and classical music and jazz, performing on major stages throughout Europe, the U.S., India, Africa, and China. Pato was the first female gaita (Galician bagpipe) player to release a solo album (1999) and has since performed on stages around the world with Yo-Yo Ma, Arturo O'Farril and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, among others. Pato is a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble and a founding member of its Leadership Council, collaborating closely in tours and planning residencies. An active recording artist and performer, Pato has released six solo gaita recordings, two as a pianist, and has collaborated on more than 30 recordings as a guest artist, including the Grammy Award winner Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace (2008) and the Grammy-nominated Silk Road Ensemble album, Off the Map (2009). A passionate lecturer and educator, Pato collaborates in a variety of disciplines, from promoting gaita composition and performance with her groundbreaking Gaita and Orchestra Commissioning Project, to collaborating as a part of the Vail International Dance Festival.

Born into a musical family in Beijing, Wu Tong has become one of the most visible proponents of traditional Chinese music of his generation. As both vocalist and virtuoso of traditional wind instruments, he has achieved an unparalleled following for Chinese music on four continents. In 1991, Wu and four Central Conservatory classmates founded Lunhui, merging the energy of rock music with traditional Chinese form and aesthetics. After topping the charts with their 1993 hit "On the Way to Wartime Yangzhou," setting the words of Song Dynasty poet Xin Qiji to original music, Lunhai became China's premier rock band, often appearing in national broadcasts. Featured as both vocalist and instrumentalist on the Ensemble's first recording, When Strangers Meet (2001), he has appeared on their recordings ever since. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma on "Kuai Le," included in Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace, won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album. As a concerto soloist, Wu has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, among others. In November 2013, Wu joined Yo-Yo Ma in the world premiere of Duo, a double concerto written for them by the Chinese composer Zhao Lin. In 2008, Wu made his stage debut with the San Francisco Opera playing multiple roles in The Bonesetter's Daughter by Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan. That same year, he co-wrote the musical score for Ashes of Time Redux, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. His 2011 solo album was nominated for Taiwan's Golden Melody Award for Best Crossover Album, and he was named 2012 Musician of the Year by New York's China Institute.

David Teie is one of the third generation of musicians in his family. He grew up as a singer and began studying composition when he was 17, but dedicated most of his life to the cello. He studied the cello with Stephen Kates and Berl Senofsky at the Peabody Conservatory, where he received bachelor's and master's degrees and the Wertheimer award for cellists; he also studied with William Pleeth in London on a Fulbright scholarship. He joined the National Symphony in 1984 and played 15 concerto performances with Music Director Mstislav Rostropovich conducting the National Symphony, including performances on three U.S. tours. He spent the 1999-2000 season as acting principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony. He is presently the principal cello instructor at the University of Maryland. Mr. Teie returned to composition in his thirties, studying with John Corigliano. He wrote the string music for the CD by Echobrain founded by Jason Newsted, Metallica's former bassist, the NSO commissioned and premiered his Fuga Eroica, and Teie performed his Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra with the Anchorage Symphony. His flute concerto was premiered in 2010 with the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, of which he was recently named Music Director of that orchestra. His research involving music and cognition has led to a number of published articles in premier publications including Biology Letters of the Royal Society and a chapter in the Oxford University Press book Evolution of Emotional Communication that contains the only comprehensive theory of the origins and affective processes of music that has passed peer review. His research led to invitations to speak at the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition and the Washington Academy of Sciences. His species-specific music, the first and only music that has elicited appropriate responses from another species in a controlled study, was listed as the New York Times #1 idea of the year in 2009. In March, a study showing that cats prefer his music for cats to human music was published in Applied Animal Behavior Science.

The music of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kate Davis has been turning heads in New York's music scene since 2012. Whether she's crooning rootsy ballads or plucking bright riffs from her bass, the gutsy songstress from Portland, Oregon, puts a fresh spin on the standards and brings a canonical sensibility to her own lush tracks. Lauded by MTV as one of 2014's "15 Fresh Females Who Will Rule Pop," Kate has performed at illustrious venues including the Kennedy Center, The Bowery Ballroom, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall-as well as pretty much every noteworthy club in NYC. Recently, Kate has shared the stage with such diverse artists as Alison Krauss, Josh Groban, Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, and Renée Fleming. Her accolades include a Robert Allen Award from the ASCAP Foundation and her arts advocacy work includes a presentation at TEDx Portland and participation in the 2010 National Arts Policy Roundtable. Kate became a New York transplant in 2009, when she enrolled at Manhattan School of Music. Since then, she has had the opportunity to collaborate with many of NYC's finest musicians and artists.


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