Okwui Okpokwasili (USA)
Corner bodegas, Newport loosies, and Orchard Beach on fire mark the landscape of Okwui Okpokwasili’s Bronx Gothic. Clandestine notes are passed between two 11-year old girls in a sex-saturated, mid-80’s 6th grade. Memory threatens to break the body in this partially true chronicle of one woman’s past. Springing from an exploration of the West African griot storytelling tradition and the epistolary trope of letter-writing in Victorian Gothic novels,Bronx Gothic is a dark and intensely physical solo performance by Okpokwasili–best known for her work with Ralph Lemon, Nora Chipaumire, Young Jean Lee, and Dean Moss-along with direction and visual design by Bessie award-winner Peter Born.
Writer, Performer and Sound Designer Okwui Okpokwasili
Director, Visual and Sound Designer Peter Born
An “arresting artist…ruthlessly clean and clever…” – Time Out NY
January 14, 16-19 8pm
EXTENSION: January 28, 30-Feb 1 8pm
(Jan 30 canceled due to illness)
131 E. 10th Street, Manhattan
$20 / $15 Danspace Members
Okwui Okpokwasili is currently touring with Nora Chipaumire in Miriam, which had its New York premiere at BAM Fisher in the 2012 Next Wave Festival. She premiered the first iteration of Bronx Gothic in the Platform 2012: Parallels series at Danspace Project. She continued to develop the piece as a 2012 MANCC choreographic fellow, a Studio Series Artist at New York Live Arts, an artist in residence at the Park Avenue Armory’s Under Construction Series and a participant in LMCC’s Extended Life Program. Her previous piece, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance described as “ruthlessly clean and clever” by Helen Shaw of Time Out NY, premiered at PS122, was also directed by Peter Born and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award. The New York Times has described her as “incandescent”. Okpokwasili is a graduate of Yale University.
Her work in multidisciplinary performance is best exemplified by her ongoing artistic collaboration with Ralph Lemon, the Bessie Award winning Artistic Director of Cross Performance. After completing the 2010 tour of Lemon’s “How Can You Stay…”, she performed an extended duet with Lemon in the Atrium at MOMA in conjunction with the exhibit, On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century. Okpokwasili also received a Bessie Award for her performance in the final part of Ralph Lemon’s Geography Trilogy, “Come Home, Charley Patton”. In 2006 she was selected with Ralph Lemon as a FUSED- French US Exchange in Dance – artist, where she was given a three month residency to develop Pent-Up: a revenge dance through Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, Paris.
Okpokwasili worked with Dean Moss and Laylah Ali in their collaboration, Figures on a Field, which premiered at the Kitchen in the spring of 2005, and went on to MassMOCA in 2006. She was an early collaborator on Democracy in America, which premiered at PS 122 in 2007 under the direction of Annie Dorsen.
Acting roles in NYC include: “Leda” in SOUNDING directed by Kristin Marting at HERE Arts Center, “Goneril” in Young Jean Lee’s LEAR at Soho Rep, “Joan” in Joan Dark co-produced by The Goodman Theater and the Linz 2009 European Capital of Culture, “Long Legged Ballerina” in Richard Foreman’s Maria Del Bosco, “Madame Laramie” in Richard Maxwell’s Cowboys and Indians, “Hilde” in Nomad Theatrical Company’s The Master Builder under the direction of Victoria Pero and “Othello” in Donna Linderman’s Oth at Dixon Place. Film roles include “Kim” in Stephan Littger’s Malorie’s Final Score, “O” in Knut Asdam’s ABYSS, the “Nigerian Tour Guide” in Sydney Pollack’s The Interpreter , “Malika” in Lasse Hallstrom’s 2006 release The Hoax and CGI stuntwork as one of the infected in Will Smith’s I Am Legend.
Peter Born has shot, edited and produced various short films, promotional videos (clients include Moleskin and Sadie Nash Leadership Project) and video for use in theater. He is working toward completing his first feature length documentary “Das Federkleid/the Featherdress.” Peter is the Bessie award-wining director of “pent-up: a revenge dance,” a performance piece that premiered at PS 122. He currently works as an art director and prop stylist for fashion videos and photo shoots for clients such as Estee Lauder, Barney’s Co-op, Karl Lagerfeld and “25” magazine with collaborators including Barney Roper, Santiago and Mauricio Sierra, and Kanye West. He is a former NY public high school teacher and graduate of Yale University.
Now in its fourth decade, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States. Located in the historic St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Danspace Project presents new work in dance, supports a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work, encourages experimentation, and connects artists to audiences through its Choreographic Center Without Walls. Through its acclaimed programming, including the PLATFORM series, Danspace Project commissions (over 450 new works since its inception in 1994) and explores models for public discourse and residencies for dance and performance. www.danspaceproject.org
Info on how to plan your trip coming soon!
Bronx Gothic was co-commissioned by Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, LMCC and a 50th Anniversary Grant from the Jerome Foundation with residency support from Under Construction at the Armory, New York Live Arts, Baryshnikov Arts Center and as part of LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development program. Additional commissioning support was provided by Le Mallion in Strasbourg, Théâtre de Gennevilliers in Paris, Theatre Garonne in Toulouse and Zagrebačko Kazalište Mladih (ZMK), the Zagreb Youth Theatre in Zagreb, Croatia as part of the PS122 GLOBAL program.