for immediate release
list under dance/performance
contact: Mary Armentrout
510 845 8604
Mary Armentrout Dance Theater presents
WHAT: reveries and elegies
WHO: Mary Armentrout Dance Theater
WHERE: the Milkbar at the Sunshine Biscuit Factory, 851 81st Ave, Oakland
WHEN: this show happens all the weekend days of January 2014:
Saturday and Sunday, January 4th and 5th, starting at 4:15pm
Saturday and Sunday, January 11th and 12th, starting at 4:30pm
Saturday and Sunday, January 18th and 19th, starting at 4:30pm
Saturday and Sunday, January 25th and 26th, starting at 4:45pm
NOTE: since this show happens in conjunction with sundown, show times are a
little wacky and very specific, all shows start promptly at their start times, and
the space will be open a half hour before the show start time
HOW MUCH: $20, through Brown Paper Tickets only – VERY LIMITED SEATING –
no tickets at the door
INFORMATION: 510 845 8604, maryarmentroutdancetheater.com, milkbar.org
PHOTOS: available on request
SPECIAL EVENT: Ian Winters’ video installations on view in the Milkbar Friday Gallery:
Fridays, January 10th, 17th, and 24th, from 4 to 7 pm
Opening Reception January 10ththe show will be different every night
reveries and elegies is Mary Armentrout’s new site specific performance project – a shifting, wandering installation that is trying to deal
with a shifting, ungraspable subject: change, loss, dislocation
life is so strange, life is so strange – it’s always changing and always staying the same
I promise the show will be different every night
I promise the show will be special every night
I promise that you won’t see ALL the shows (even if you come to each and every one)
(life is so strange, life is so strange)
-you WANT to be in control
-you WANT to have it all
(you secretly yearn to run into the fact that you’re not in control at all)
(you secretly yearn to be released into the knowledge that life is ungraspable – not only by
everyone else, but also by you)
Mary Armentrout, a dance artist who creates hybrid dance theater experiments she calls performance installations, is pleased to continue presenting her newest full length project for her company, the Mary Armentrout Dance Theater. “reveries and elegies” is an on-going site specific performance installation project about change and dislocation that travelled through five different sites nationally over the course of Winter 2012/2013, and is returning home to the Bay Area for the month of January 2014, before setting off for Europe in February. Since the original eight performances of “reveries and elegies” here in the Bay Area last winter all sold out, Armentrout decided to remount it here, waiting for the wintery setting to roll around again. This time, “reveries and elegies” will play all four weekends of January 2014, at Armentrout’s home dance/performance space, the Milkbar at the Biscuit Factory in East Oakland. Although the original version of this piece wandered through four different spaces in the Bay Area, this time we will stay put at the Milkbar – it is a very strong version of the piece, and allows for an audience of 25 – larger than some of the other spaces! Although we will miss some of the beauties of those versions – a site specific piece that happened in the rain in Temescal Alley, with the audience watching from under the eaves, a finale at Baker Beach at sunset with a live vocal chorus composed by Pamela Z, a video mapping of the neighborhood around CounterPULSE projected onto their risers covered in white paper – that is the nature of this project. “reveries and elegies” is a piece of fragments – a piece consciously created out of fragments and the fragmenting of material. A piece that attempts to embody the experience we have of life (as well as of performance) as a fragmentary thing, ungraspable, only partially here at any given time, ephemeral, always vanishing even as it is presenting itself as “the present.” A piece that aims to present its audience with a new embodied experience of the sense of loss and wonder we humans have at this basic fact of life.
Following on the success of her last site specific project “the woman invisible to herself,” for which she received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award nomination for choreography, “reveries and elegies” extends Armentrout’s interest in the site specific, pushing it in new riskier directions. “reveries and elegies” is an on-going looping cumulative piece, always repeating as it moves to a new space, always changing and creating new components caused by the specific attributes of its new home, and so always remaining constant in its attempt to capture the flux of the present situation. “reveries and elegies” thus creates a structure that mimics and writes large the peculiar nature of live performance: even as it attempts to repeat and remain the same, it is always new and different, a unique incarnation – made special to those watching it by their own assistance in its creation and their awareness of its uniqueness.
Change is built into the structure of this piece. “reveries and elegies” has already happened at five very different spaces over the course of last winter: the Milkbar at the Biscuit Factory in East Oakland, Interface, a tiny Temescal Oakland art gallery, CounterPULSE, a large dance theater in San Francisco, senseofplace LAB : Baker Beach, a small gallery space in San Francisco near Baker Beach, and the Hopkins Black Box Theater at LSU. And, after this current incarnation back at the Milkbar, it will travel to Roehampton University in London and on to further spots around the globe as well. As the piece travels, the playing space of the piece morphs and mutates - getting bigger and smaller, more and less proscenium, more and less urban. The material of the piece is also in flux in several different ways. First, the material is transformed by the spaces it is mapped onto; the spaces themselves do cause the material to change. Second, the material of this piece has changed and will continue to change in the different venues that host it because Armentrout purposefully drops pieces out and adds new ones in for each new space the piece travels to. This willful reconfiguring of the piece, essentially a not allowing the piece to remain the same, and a not allowing the audiences to see the same piece, structures and embodies the sense of change and dislocation the piece is about. Eventually, after enough material has been accumulated, Armentrout will create an on-line version of this piece, that will again offer viewers only partial access to all the material, creating a unique version of the piece each time it is viewed, and so continuing its fragmentary nature in a different embodiment.
core image that “reveries and elegies” uses to explore this shifting meditation
on change and dislocation is a solo figure in extreme landscapes. This exploration happens in several nested
layers, all of which morph and mutate, and thereby embody the larger content of
the constant changeableness of here-ness and now-ness that is the hallmark of
presence, performance, and “the present.” There are four different nested
layers: the landscape/the season, the “solo” figure, the simple sound
score, and the technology component.
The landscape/the season: “reveries and elegies” is an exploration of the place of the human within the landscape, but it is most definitely a wintery landscape that this exploration takes place in. Winter is admittedly a mild affair here in the bay area, but does have a specific feel to it – a pastel quiet chill. This is the right time for the mood this piece will be exploring: an awareness of loss and wonder at the movement of time ever moving forward. At each site there is always one section that happens during the twilight hour – highlighting this special time of day during this specific time of the year. The Milkbar version of this section involves ghostly presences standing/”floating” on ladders in a large stairwell, with a subtle interplay between fading sunlight, candle light and fluorescent light.
The “solo” figure: as Armentrout does often, she will be using extra bodies, or body doubles, in some sections, both as metaphorical layers of self, and as tricky confusing figures in the landscape that make the audience look again and look closely at the whole extended field of vision to discern what is part of the show and what is not. She uses an extended range of ages and bodies, tied together by shared costuming, to fulfill this idea. Performers for this version include Natalie Greene, Frances Rosario, and Nol Simonse.
The simple sound score: many of the sections of this piece have sounds scores built up from the simple sentence: “life is so strange.” Armentrout often works with text, and has two gifted composers who have composed for her on many of her projects: Pamela Z and Evelyn Ficarra. They are both adept at working with recorded text as a component of sonic compositions, and she has commissioned them to make very different scores from the same basic material – a third way the same material keeps changing.
The technology component: each performance evening is a mix of live dance performance sections, projected video sections, sections that have both live and video elements, and some sections that use sensor technology to create interactive situations that highlight presence. Additionally, at each venue, for one section, the audience will have to choose between three viewing options, and will only get to see one of the three – another way in which they will be prevented from seeing the “whole” show/and or will have different experiences of the same show. Armentrout is collaborating with video and light designer Ian Winters on this aspect of the work, also an artist she has worked closely with on many past projects.
In conclusion, “reveries and elegies” continues Armentrout’s trajectory of creating a new model for experiencing live dance theater work – one that involves the audience in an intimate, embodied way. As with her earlier project “the woman invisible to herself,” the audience size is limited to 25 per show, because we move them around the spaces in different ways during the show. The small size and active role of the audience gives them a sense of ownership and participation in the performance without resorting to confrontational means of engagement. This is a rich new structure for exploring the interface of performers and audience and together experiencing the ever wondrous moment of the now.
In addition, for this version of the show only, we will be concurrently running a show of Ian Winters’ video installations that have been created during the process of making this project so far, on three Friday afternoons. The “reveries and elegies” Friday Gallery showcases four 2-channel time lapse films from the “perambulations” series, aka the “reverie of dislocation” created for each installment of “reveries and elegies,” along with the interactive time-lapse installation, “the bed.” The “reverie of dislocation / perambulations” are a series of time-lapse films that use the same filmic and performance score to explore each site “reveries and elegies” has been performed at. Conceived originally as a many channel installation film, the Friday Gallery hours will be the first time the individual film pieces from each show will be seen together. “The bed” is a time-lapse meditation on color, light, and the coming of winter to the bay area that explores our malleable sense of the rhythm of time and passing seasons. Included as part of “the bed” installation will be a work in progress showing of a book version of the same project.
more about Mary Armentrout Dance Theater
Mary Armentrout is a dance artist who works primarily with repetition and duration to uncover aspects of intentionality and presence. Influenced by contemporary philosophical concerns as well as the ongoing critical investigations started by the Judson Church dance deconstructions, she makes works that embody the contradictions of contemporary life, both our conflicted, fractured sense of self, and our discontinuous, collage sense of being-in-the-world. She grounds her work in her ongoing investigations of the Feldenkrais mind-body practice, drawing on the rich ways its awareness practice embodies and problematizes issues of intentionality and presence. From the conflictions and dislocations she finds there, her work spills out to build odd and compelling structures exhibiting contradictory aspects of our self-awareness and being-in-the-world. Her choreography consists of small fragments of everyday movement, words, and environments that are distilled, distorted, polished, and stripped down to reveal the layers of ambiguity, pathos, and absurdity underneath the surface. Repetitive and deconstructed gestures, utterances, and objects/pieces of the outside world are layered and allowed to build and morph, crumble and change, creating compelling, unstable environments which allow deeper truths covered over in the everyday to surface, come into focus, and, paradoxically, display their contradictions. Her works are puzzles, designed to imperfectly capture fragments of presence-in-performance and human intentionality.
Armentrout calls her works performance installations. Drawing both raves and interested puzzlement from the critics - "a performance artist of tremendous range" (Christopher Correa, Dance View Times), "a quirky idiosyncratic choreographer who assembles works that appear illogical on the surface, but somehow her twisted humor, comic timing, and odd use of furniture and bodies coalesce into meaningful dance" (Rita Felciano, The East Bay Monthly) - she is engaged in "inventing a new kind of dance theater right before our eyes" (Dance View Times).
She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, concentrating particularly on dance and philosophy. After many years of making and performing work on the East and West Coasts and in Europe, she formed the Mary Armentrout Dance Theater in the Bay Area in 2000. The company currently consists of herself, Merlin Coleman, Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Natalie Greene, April Taylor, Frances Rosario, and Nol Simonse, and is, as it has been for the last ten years, a fluid blend of dancers, actors, and sound and media artists. Armentrout also maintains on-going collaborative relationships with sound artists Pamela Z, Evelyn Ficcara, and Merlin Coleman, and media artists Ian Winters and Bulkfoodveyor (Phil Bonner).
She installs work in both conventional and site-specific venues, and the Mary Armentrout Dance Theater has been presented at numerous venues all over the San Francisco Bay Area, including ODC Theater, The LAB, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, as well as in less proscenium-oriented spaces including a bathroom, the beach, and a car. Her work has also been presented at such venues as Movement Research at the Judson Church and Danspace Project in New York City, Highways in Los Angeles, the Dance Place in Washington D.C., le Centre Americain in Paris, and Tanzfabrik in Berlin, as well as in festivals including Dadafest, the Tenderloin "Festival In The Street," the Retail Dance Festival, the DUMBO (NY) Dance Festival, the SF Fringe Festival, the "Women on the Edge" Series, and the Hunter Mountain (NY) Performing Series. She recently co-curated a Movement Research (NY) Studies Project on new work from the Bay Area with Trajal Harrel, and assisted Jonah Bokaer in a “Food for Thought” project on contemporary Bay Area dance at Danspace Project.
She has received support from the Zellerbach Family Foundation, the CA$H Grant program, the Clorox Company Foundation, the Lighting Artists in Dance Award, and the New Stages for Dance Award, and has had residencies at Djerassi, The LAB, The Garage, and CounterPULSE. She teaches on-going technique, composition, and Feldenkrais classes at Danspace and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and has also taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Cal State East Bay (Hayward), USF, LSU, and the University of Sussex. She is the organizer of the Dance Discourse Project, an on-going series of artist-curated discussions of the Bay Area dance scene, co-presented by Dancers’ Group and CounterPULSE, and co-curates the mixed performance salon "The Milk Bar" at The Biscuit Factory in Oakland, along with Merlin Coleman and Ian Winters. She is proud to be the president of the board of Dancers' Group, considered the most important dance service organization in the Bay Area, and happy to have recently obtained her Feldenkrais certification. See more at maryarmentroutdancetheater.com
more about the space
The Milkbar is an artist-run, cross-disciplinary cooperative studio based in East Oakland. Our mission is to show great new work at the intersection of music, film, and performance in an intimate, artist friendly setting that promotes feedback and dialogue between audience and artists. We are run by 3 experienced co-curators: Mary Armentrout (choreographer, performer, president of Dancer’s Group), Ian Winters (installation filmmaker, photographer, and director of the Northern California Land Trust), and Merlin Coleman (composer, vocalist, cellist) in an intimate space that is both our research studio, and a vibrant small performance venue/series seating ~40.
Located in East Oakland, CA in the Sunshine Biscuit Factory complex, the MilkBar has presented 10 years of artist’s salons, new performance, and debuted a wide variety of new experimental and improvisational contemporary performances/works in progress. Over that time we have curated and produced 33 salons featuring contemporary live performance, 4 ‘live’ film festivals featuring work at the intersection of live music, film/video and performance, and been host to a wide array of guest musicians and performers. Our salon evenings are curated to bring diverse artists/audiences together—to see great work at an early stage, to talk and discuss, —and to help them discover new audience/collaborators /community that they wouldn’t otherwise find.
In addition to the salon series at the studio we also produce our International “Live Film” festival. It has grown from a working group of musicians, filmmakers, and performers experimenting with new forms to an on-going multi-evening event partnering with artists from the around the world. Our last festival was produced off-site at the Noodle Factory in Oakland, with five commissioned works and films from over 9 countries.
We have been fortunate to host a large number of SF Bay area’s experimental performance community. A few of the artists that have performed work at the MilkBar include: Sara Kraft, Bob Ernst, Dan Carbone, Abby Crain,The Degenerate Art Ensemble, Dinah Emerson, Matt Ingalls, Jessica Ivry, Weasel Walter and the Satellites, Myra Melford, Laurie Amat, Dan Plonsey, Suki O’Kane, Gino Robair, Lisa Mezzacappa, Matt Volla, Michael Ferriell Zbyszynski, Pamela Z, Lisa Wymore and Sheldon Smith, MGM, Lucy HG/League of Imaginary Scientists, Sarah Klein, Andrew Lyndon, Minako Seki, and Dance Monks. www.milkbar.org
Collaborating Artists’ Biographies
A dual citizen (UK/USA), Evelyn Ficarra studied composition at the University of Sussex, the National Film and Television School, and the University of California, Berkeley, and has several years’ experience as a freelance composer, teacher and sound editor. She has a strong focus on electro-acoustic and collaborative work and has written music for dance, film, theatre, radio, installation and the concert hall. She has received support from the Arts Council of England, the London Arts Board, the Sonic Arts Network, the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, the Hinrichsen Foundation, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Meet the Composer and Poems on the Underground. Her music has been heard variously in concert halls, theaters, music festivals, film festivals, on television and in radio broadcasts in the UK, Europe, the Americas and the Far East. Her solo CD Frantic Mid-Atlantic is available on the Sargasso Label www.sargasso.com, and other recent music can be downloaded from www.criticalnotice.com. Recent projects include vagues / fenêtres, a string trio with electronics, supported by a Fellowship from the French American Cultural Exchange and premiered in Nice, France during the 2009 MANCA Festival, and ‘in. apt.’, an improvisation research project in collaboration with paige starling sorvillo / blindsight.
Ian Winters is a San Francisco Bay Area based photographer, video artist and performer working at the intersection of architectural form, frozen image and time-based media in solo work and collaborations with composers, directors, and choreographers to create open-ended environments through performance, photographic/video/film media, and sonic environments. Winters trained in photography, film and performance at SMFA-Boston and Tufts University, and post-graduate training in architecture and live performance. He also co-curates the Milkbar salon series in Oakland. Recent collaborators and media projects include projects with Francis Ford Coppola (designing the custom Isadora playback system for his new film), Robert Moses Kin, elaine buckholtz, ODC Dance, Alice Arts, Pamela Z, Evelyn Ficarra, paige starling sorvillo,/blindsight, Sara Kraft, Mary Armentrout Dance Theater, and others. Recent work screenings, performances and video / media design projects include venues such as London City University, the Port of Oakland, The Luggage Store, Sergei Kuryokhin Modern Art Center, Moscow Conservatory Electro-acoustic Center, I-Park Artist’s Enclave, Journées de l'électroacoustique, Paris, YBCA, ODC, Z-Space/Theater Artaud, The Asian Art Museum SF, The Kitchen, POTO Arts Festival, EMPAC, MIT New Media Center, Mass art, London Cutting Edge Festival, Oxford & Corsham music festivals, Moving Baltic Sea Festival and OPEN Cinema Festival in St. Petersburg, CounterPULSE, CNMAT, Highways, The Parkway Theaters, Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley, LA Freewaves Festival, 21 Grand, Dance Mission and more. www.ianwinters.com
Pamela Z is a San Francisco-based composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampling technology, and video. A pioneer of live digital looping techniques, she creates solo works combining experimental extended vocal techniques, operatic bel canto, found objects, text, digital processing, and MIDI controllers that allow her to manipulate sound with physical gestures. In addition to her solo work, she has composed and recorded scores for dance, theatre, film, and new music chamber ensembles. Her large-scale multi-media works have been presented at venues including Theater Artaud and ODC in SanFrancisco, and The Kitchen in New York, and her media works have been presented in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum (NY), the Diözesanmuseum (Cologne), and the Krannert Art Museum (IL). Her multi-media opera Wunderkabinet – inspired by the Museum of Jurassic Technology (co-composed with Matthew Brubeck) has been presented at The LAB Gallery (San Francisco), REDCAT (Disney Hall, Los Angeles), and Open Ears Festival, Toronto. Pamela Z has toured extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. She has performed in numerous festivals including Bang on a Can at Lincoln Center (New York), Interlink (Japan), Other Minds (San Francisco), La Biennale di Venezia (Italy), and Pina Bausch Tanztheater Festival (Wuppertal, Germany). She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Creative Capital Fund, the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, The MAP Fund, the ASCAP Music Award, an Ars Electronica honorable mention, and the NEA and Japan/US Friendship Commission Fellowship. She holds a music degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. www.pamelaz.com.