RAMP: Jillian Peña - Performance Space New York

RAMP: Jillian Pena

RAMP: Jillian Pena

Jillian Peña
Dance, Multimedia

Residency dates: June 2 – 15
Public Showing: June 14, 6pm & 8pm
at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center
280 Broadway, Manhattan

Jillian Peña is a dance and video artist primarily concerned with confusion and desire between the self and other. Her work seeks to explore and expose the politics inherent in how bodies move and relate to one another. Inspired by Russian ballet, psychoanalysis, queer theory, pop media, and spirituality, Jillian believes in the power of dance to speak through history and reveal subtle dimensions of human character, in both the performers and the audience.
Panopticon is a duet that is simultaneously a solo and a work for 100 dancers. Utilizing virtuosic dancing within a set of mirrors and video projections, the performers will be multiplied to both highlight and objectify them. Inspired by the architectural concept of the panopticon – a structure in which everything is seen at all times – this performance aims to achieve omniscient visibility.

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Jillian Peña is a dance and video artist primarily concerned with confusion and desire between self and other. Her work is in dialogue with psychoanalysis, queer theory, pop media, and spirituality. Jillian was recently awarded the Prix Jardin d’Europe 2014 at ImpulsTanz Dance Festival in Vienna. She has been presented internationally, including at Danspace Project, the American Realness Festival, The Chocolate Factory, Dance Theater Workshop and The Kitchen in New York, and Akademie der Kunste Berlin, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Modern Art Oxford, and the International Festival of Contemporary Art Slovenia. She was a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar during which she was awarded an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was a fellowship recipient, and a Practice-based MPhil in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center (LMCC), Performance Space 122, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Movement Research, the National Dance Center of Bucharest, Romania, Archauz in Århus, Denmark, and a DanceWEB Fellow at ImPulsTanz in Vienna. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Dance and in the College of Art, Media, and Design at University of the Arts, Philadelphia. jillianpena.com
Alexandra Albrecht is a freelance performer who has worked with many different artists in various mediums in NYC, nationally and internationally since the fall of 2007. She curated Dance at The Tank from 2009-12. She currently collaborates with Hilary Easton, Ryan McNamara, Jillian Peña and Ani Taj/The Dance Cartel. She holds a BFA in Dance and BA in Journalism from NYU and moonlights as a personal chef.
Andrew Champlin is a dancer and performer based in New York City. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Mr. Champlin graduated from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts with a BA in sociology and dance. Mr. Champlin has had the pleasure of working with a wide range of artists from various disciplines with whom he’s performed in the US, Europe and Asia; most recently, Jillian Peña, Ryan McNamara, Pam Tanowitz, Macklin Kowal, and Xavier le Roy. Andrew teaches ballet technique under the mentorship of Janet Panetta.
Sam Roeck is a visual artist and performer. His work has been shown at White Columns, 356 Mission, Josée Bienvenu Gallery, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Recess Project Space, Envoy Gallery, The Times Square Arts Center, The Peoples Improv Theatre, and the Queens Comedy Center. As a performer he has appeared in work by Rebecca Patek, Kim Brandt, Liz Santoro, and Ryan McNamara. In 2012, he curated “Making Friends” a performance and dance series at Josée Bienvenu Gallery, NY. He is currently an MFA candidate at Hunter College in New York. He lives and works in New York.
Born in Ohio, Chris Sellers brings the Midwestern sensibility of attentiveness and honestly to her work and her life. There is a photo from before Chris was a year old where she is holding a book called “Little Photographer.” Even as a child, Chris has been seeing the world in images, always seeking to create beauty in any situation. Chris has been a Director of Photography since 2004, working in reality/format television (CNBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, MTV, VH1, Travel Channel, History Channel, TLC). Leaving television to attend the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, it didn’t take long for her to realize that her true passion was in dissecting a story. It is storytelling that drives her, and she works like a psychologist to find those stories, even in small quiet moments.

“This work takes inspiration from the architectural concept of the Panopticon conceived of in the late 1700’s. English architect Jeremy Bentham designed this structure for use originally in prisons. It is a circular layout in which everybody can be seen at all times (pan = all, optic = seeing). Michel Foucault talks about the panopticon in his “Discipline and Punish,” and how it stands as a metaphor for the division and distribution of modern disciplinary power. Foucault predicted that the structure of the panopticon would be evidenced in social relations through bodies. ‘We are neither in the amphitheater, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine.’ He continues, ‘we are part of its mechanism.’
I want to investigate how we relate to this proposal today – as dancing bodies and as viewing bodies. What are performers showing, and what are we capable of seeing? I know this is not a new question, but rather one that is always changing and capable of reflecting contemporary culture. How is the panopticon an allegory for the politics of the self today? I want to approach these questions in relationship to technology. What is on view online, and who has the power? As we become more entrenched in social media, we become less in control of what we show.
Working with set + video designers, I will create a performance in which we see more of the dancers than we usually do – through reflections and multiplications using mirrors and videos. Creating a kaleidoscopic arena of these two bodies, they will simultaneously be seen as individuals and as objects. Through this uncanny gaze, Panopticon hopes to reveal subtle nuances of the dancers that are at once intimate and impersonal. When we see very personal pictures and stories of people online, they are immediately disconnected from an individual, and become a simulacrum, or substitute, of the experience. If we see a close-up photo of someone’s armpit, for instance, that is a very intimate part of the body – but in a photograph online, it is an impersonal symbol.” – Jillian Peña

About Gibney Dance
Gibney Dance brings the possibility of movement where it otherwise would not exist. Through three interrelated fields of action—Center, Company, and Community Action—Gibney Dance is “Making Space for Dance” in studios, on stages, and in underserved shelters and schools.
Gibney Dance Centers are a powerhouse of cultural support for the performing arts community and the City itself. In 1991, Gibney Dance began leasing a studio in the historic 890 Broadway building to house Company rehearsals, and by 2011 the organization’s presence at that location had expanded to comprise an expansive eight-studio creative center. Today, with the addition of 280 Broadway, the organization directs a performing arts complex with two facilities: the Choreographic Center at 890 Broadway and Performing Arts Center at 280 Broadway. These remarkable spaces enable a robust roster of events designed to meet the needs of the dance field by fostering the creative process, encouraging dialogue, and providing professional development opportunities.
Gibney Dance Company is the Centers’ acclaimed resident dance ensemble, led by choreographer Gina Gibney. Since its founding in 1991, the Company has developed a repertory of over thirty works that have been performed throughout the US and abroad. Gibney is known for using weighted, spiraling phrases to craft interpersonal dynamics between the dancers. These carefully calibrated relationships reflect the dancers’ experiences as community activists. As observed by writer Deborah Jowitt: “(t)hat Gibney’s troupe has long worked for the empowerment of battered women is reflected in the dancers’ struggles, their uncommon resilience, the support one readily offers another.” Highly sought-after by a wide range of performing arts institutions, the Company has been featured in recent years at Danspace Project (New York), White Bird (Oregon) the Yale Repertory Theater (Connecticut), L’Agora de la Danse (Montreal, Canada), and Internationale Tanzmesse (Dusseldorf, Germany).
Community Action
Gibney Dance Community Action provides New York City domestic violence shelters with over 500 free movement workshops each year. At these workshops Company members share activities that draw from artistic practices to address issues of choice and self-expression. Community Action was initiated in 2000 in collaboration with Sanctuary for Families and Safe Horizon, two of the country’s most prominent domestic violence organizations. Widely regarded as a model in the field, Community Action’s methods for integrating arts and social action are distributed nationally—via our Institute for Community Action intensive that annually hosts dancers from across the US—and internationally—through Global Community Action Residencies, most recently in Cape Town, South Africa.


RAMP artists are commissioned by Performance Space 122 with support from the Jerome Foundation. Dance programming support provided by Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance and Jerome Robbins Foundation. RAMP 2015 is supported by Gibney Dance.

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