The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University presents the 2022 Princeton Dance Festival. Princeton students in the program will perform new and repertory works by Ronald K. Brown, Davalois Fearon, Sun Kim, Michael J. Love, Susan Marshall, Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, and Caili Quan. The works to be performed include popping, tap, ballet, dance theater, West African/modern, and post-modern genres. Performances are December 2 at 8:00 p.m., December 3 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and December 4 at 2:00 p.m. All performances will be at the Berlind Theatre in the McCarter Theatre Center.
The Berlind Theatre is an accessible venue with wheelchair and companion seating. An assistive listening system is available, and headphones can be requested from ushers. The December 2 performance will be open-captioned. The December 4 show will be a relaxed performance; these performances ease typical theater requirements and welcome audience members to be comfortable andbrown to move or vocalize freely, without judgment or inhibition. Guests in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least one week in advance at LewisCenter@princeton.edu.
Four works in the festival were staged or created during fall semester courses in the Program in Dance.
Students will perform an excerpt from Four Corners by Ronald K. Brown. The work has been restaged by Brown and Evidence Associate Artistic Director Arcell Cabuag, with assistance from Evidence Rehearsal Directors Demetrius Burns and Joyce Edwards. Four Corners was originally commissioned for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2014. Dancers depict spiritual seekers amid four angels standing on the corners of the earth, holding the four winds. Brown is recipient of the AUDELCO Award for his choreography in Regina Taylor’s award-winning play, Crowns, and a Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Tony Award-winning Broadway and national touring production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Brown is a 2022-23 Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence at Princeton.
In I.D.G.A., a new work by Davalois Fearon, she explains that she used the tension between structure and chaos, mundane everyday movement, and physical virtuosity as tools to create the piece, the title of which stands for “I Don’t Give A,” as a commentary on aspects of toxic corporate culture. She dedicates I.D.G.A. to her sister and all others “who have experienced such abuse and are now survivors and thrivers, living their best life, and an anthem for those who dare to seek internal well-being and genuine happiness, otherwise known as liberation.” A former dancer with the Stephen Petronio Company, Fearon founded the Davalois Fearon Dance Company in 2016 to push artistic and social boundaries and cultivate the next generation of dance artists, while highlighting structures of inequities that affect people of African descent.
Dangerous Rooms, a new work by Professor of Dance and Director of the Program in Dance Susan Marshall, is loosely based on excerpts of the first act of her The Most Dangerous Room in the House, a work that was performed in New York at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1998. The original work explored our fears, both real and imagined, as well as the desire to control the uncontrollable and protect ourselves and those closest to us from forces and events we actively seek to avoid. Marshall notes that in the anxiety-driven atmosphere of today, she felt it would be a good time to return to this work and to reimagine it with creative contributions from her cast. The five dancers in this fast-paced dance hurtle through a set comprised of two small walls to which they cling and press themselves and from which they push and propel themselves into new configurations. The piece asks: To what extent do the worlds that we create for ourselves serve us well? To what extent do they restrict or even entrap us? What are we afraid of, and is it outside of us or inside of us? The music is by renowned composer David Lang. Marshall is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards. Her dance group, Susan Marshall & Company, has performed extensively in theaters throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan with performances in New York City at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and nationally at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, and Peak Performances at Montclair State University.
An excerpt of Tesseract by the team of Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener will also be performed. Tesseract is an adaptation of a collaboration between the team and Charles Atlas. Tesseract premiered at the Walker Art Center in 2017 as an evening-length presentation in two parts separated by an intermission: a 3D dance film featuring seven dancers and a live proscenium performance with six dancers. In this excerpted adaptation, images obscure and reveal moving bodies behind a translucent scrim. Through collective action, the dance forges a link between human ritual conjuring and new technological magic and between the past and the future. Mitchell and Riener are former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and since 2010 have created more than 25 multidisciplinary dance works including site-responsive installations, concert dances in venues such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Barbican Centre, gallery performances, and dances for film. Riener is a 2006 alumnus of the Program in Dance. The Mitchell + Riener team are 2022-23 Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence at Princeton.
The remaining three works on the program were created and staged by guest choreographers outside of a course.
Why Dance is a new work created by choreographer Sun Kim, based on popping and other street dance styles; it explores the ongoing challenges that dancers face in their pursuit of dance and a reminder to them to stay true to their own beliefs and continue dancing for the sake of their own happiness. Kim is a founder/artistic director of Sun Kim Dance Theatre and a dance educator at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Center. Her work has been presented at New York Public Library for Performing Arts, Works and Process/Guggenheim, LayeRhythm, Jacob’s Pillow, Burning Man at Sotheby’s, New Victory Theater, San Francisco International Hip Hop Dance Festival, and Breakin’ Convention. She recently received The Emerging Artist Award from Harlem Stage Gala 2022 and was nominated for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer at the 2022 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards.
The present is a sustained attempt at finding one’s own pleasure. is a new tap dance work by 2021-23 Princeton Arts Fellow Michael J. Love. In response to The future is a constant wake., his 2019 video collaboration with film-based artist Aryel René Jackson, Love’s piece oscillates between two seminal mid-1960s Nina Simone recordings, words by Black feminist writer and performance artist Ra/Malika Imhotep (as performed by voice artist Deja Morgan), and a cappella tap rhythms. In its aural and visual complexity, The present… offers space for recognizing the labor necessary to eke joy and pleasure out of circumstances and systems designed against such experiences. Love is an interdisciplinary tap dance artist—a choreographer, scholar, and educator. His embodied research intermixes Black queer feminist theory and aesthetics with a rigorous practice that critically engages the Black cultural past as it imagines Black futurity. His performance credits include the Broadway laboratory for Savion Glover and George C. Wolfe’s Shuffle Along and roles in works by Baakari Wilder, as well as Andrew Nemr’s New York-based company Cats Paying Dues.
Pop, choreographed by Caili Quan, was originally created for DanceWorks Chicago’s 2019 ChoreoLab. Inspired by people-watching on the New York City subway, the piece provides a glimpse of what people could be daydreaming about on their daily commute to work. Set to music by Barbatuques, Armenian Navy Band, and Arto Tunçboyaciyan, Pop is a peek into how the mind could wander when the body is still. Quan is a New York City-based choreographer and former dancer with BalletX. She has created new works for BalletX, New York Choreographic Institute, American Repertory Ballet, Asbury Park Dance Festival, and Stars of American Ballet. She was one of the 2022 Artists-in-Residence at the Vail Dance Festival and is a Creative Associate at The Juilliard School.
Currently under the direction of Marshall, Princeton’s Program in Dance is now in its 52nd year and has grown to include five full-time and nine adjunct faculty and offers 23 different courses and a curriculum that includes introductory courses, courses suited for dancers at the pre-professional level, as well as courses in dance studies and interdisciplinary contemporary practices.
Tickets for Princeton Dance Festival are $12 in advance of show dates, $17 purchased the day of performances at the box office, and $10 for students. Purchase tickets online through McCarter Box Office.
All guests must either be fully vaccinated, or have recently tested negative (via PCR within 72 hours or via rapid antigen test within 8 hours of the scheduled visit) and be prepared to show proof if asked, or wear a face covering when indoors and around others.
Visit the Lewis Center website to learn more about the Princeton Dance Festival, the Program in Dance, and the more than 100 performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts and lectures presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts.