Program – Dec. 5, led by Silas Riener + Olivier Tarpaga

Princeton Dance Festival Reimagined

Presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance on

December 5, 2020, at 8:00 PM (EST)


OUT OF SYNC (premiere)

Choreographer: Olivier Tarpaga in collaboration with the dancers
Music: Tim Motzer, guitar; Daniel John T. Johnson, tabla; Olivier Tarpaga, vocals
Video Editor: Derrick Belcham
Costumes: Mary Jo Mecca
Dancers: Mei Geller ’24, Laura Haubold ’24, Daniel Tajes ’24



Led by: Silas Riener
Video Editor: Daniel Madoff
Music: Jenny Beck, PhD Candidate
Dancers: Sophie Blue ’21*, Jane Brown ’21*, Sam Grayson ’21*, Vivian Li ’24, Ethan Luk ’24, Ally Wonski ’22*, Thea Zalabak ’21*, Julia Zhou ’24


REMOTE MinEvent FOR VIDEO (2020)

Choreographer: Merce Cunningham
Arranger and Stager: Silas Riener
Choreography by Merce Cunningham ⓒ Merce Cunningham Trust. All rights reserved.
Video Editor: Daniel Madoff
Music: Jenny Beck, PhD Candidate
Animation Mentor: Tim Szetela
Dancers: Sophie Blue ’21*, Jane Brown ’21*, Sam Grayson ’21*, Vivian Li ’24, Ethan Luk ’24, Ally Wonski ’22*, Thea Zalabak ’21*, Julia Zhou ’24
Animators: Justin Chae ’23, Donovan Coronado ’21, Alex Deland ’21 ***, Jamie Guo ’21, Yazan Mimi ’22, Naomi Oke ’23, Alejandro Roig ’21 **, Bob Schofner ’22, Titi Sodimu ’23, Brian Tieu ’23, Miles Wilson ’22***

A MinEvent is an uninterrupted sequence of excerpts drawn from the work of Merce Cunningham. Each MinEvent is unique and is designed to suit the particular space in which it is presented. This MinEvent was arranged and staged by Mr. Riener for the dancers of Princeton University.


*denotes a certificate student in the Program in Dance
** denotes certificate student in the Program in Visual Arts
*** denotes Practice of Art student in the Program in Visual Arts



JENNY BECK (Composer) composes chamber, orchestral, electronic, vocal, and found-sound music, as well as music for dance. She grew up in rural Pennsylvania where the sounds of the woods stirred her imagination at a young age, and she has gone on to write music that invites listeners into alternative modes of awareness. Working in an intensely distilled musical language, the goal of which is to forge significance for each sound, her music reflects her interests in nature, meditation, ambience, and ambiguity. Jenny has participated in numerous US-based and international festivals, workshops, and residencies including the Tanglewood Music Center and the Copland House CULTIVATE Institute. Most recently, she was selected as a finalist for the 2020 Gaudeamus Prize. Jenny has worked with a wide range of chamber ensembles and orchestras, and she also performs her own vocal work.


DERRICK BELCHAM (Video Consultant and Editor) is a Canadian filmmaker based out of Brooklyn, New York, whose internationally-recognized work in documentary and music video has led him to work with such artists as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, Paul Simon and hundreds of others in music, dance, theater and architecture. He has created works and lectured at such institutions as MoMA PS1, MoCA, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum Of American Art, Musee D’Art Contemporain, The Philip Johnson Glass House, Brooklyn Academy of Music and The Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati. His work regularly appears in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue, Pitchfork, NPR and Rolling Stone as well as being screened at short, dance and experimental festivals and retrospectives around the world.


MERCE CUNNINGHAM (Choreographer) [April 16, 1919 – July 26, 2009] is widely considered to be one of the most important choreographers of all time. His approach to performance was groundbreaking in its ideological simplicity and physical complexity: he applied the idea that “a thing is just that thing” to choreography, embracing the notion that “if the dancer dances, everything is there.” Cunningham was born in Centralia, Washington, and attended the Cornish School in Seattle. There, he was introduced to the work of Martha Graham (he would later have a six-year tenure as a soloist with her company) and met John Cage, who would become the greatest influence on his practice, his closest collaborator, and his life partner until Cage’s death in 1992. In 1948, Cunningham and Cage began a relationship with the famed experimental institution Black Mountain College, where Cunningham first formed a dance company to explore his convention-breaking ideas. The Merce Cunningham Dance Company (originally called Merce Cunningham and Dance Company) would remain in continuous operation until 2011, with Cunningham as Artistic Director until his death in 2009. Over the course of his career, Cunningham choreographed 180 dances and over 700 Events. Across his 70-year career, Cunningham proposed a number of radical innovations to how movement and choreography are understood, and he sought to find new ways to integrate technology and dance. With long-term collaborations with artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Charles Atlas, and Elliot Caplan, Cunningham’s sphere of influence also extended deep into the visual arts world. Cunningham earned some of the highest honors bestowed in the arts, and his dances have been performed by groups including the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, White Oak Dance Project, the Lyon Opera Ballet, Ballett am Rhein, and London’s Rambert.


DANIEL JOHNSON’s (Tabla-Percussion-Vox) path in music has been a journey from the pounding percussive energy of performing with Philadelphia’s 20 member Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra, to the freedom and vibe of performing with Miles Davis alum’s Badal Roy’s Dharma Jazz to the intense depth of Tabla player to North Indian classical sitar legend Ustad Shafaat Khan. These and many more projects, including being a percussionist at Princeton University for the Program in Dance, have kept him moving further into subtle pulsation.


DANIEL MADOFF (Video Consultant and Editor) was a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 2007 to its conclusion in 2012. He then became a film director, cinematographer, editor, and producer. He has created several award-winning films which have screened worldwide, as well as TV commercials airing on national television. He has produced or edited content for The New York Times, BBC America, Grey Goose Vodka, BMW, Dewar’s Whiskey, Michelob Ultra, Dermalogica, People Magazine, Andrew Cuomo, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Trisha Brown Dance Company, among others. Daniel was Director of Media for the Merce Cunningham Trust during Cunningham’s Centennial celebration where he created hundreds of videos about Cunningham’s dances and philosophies which were viewed millions of times. View Madoff’s work


TIM MOTZER (Guitar) After two decades of world touring, seven solo albums, and stunning collaborations including over 90 albums of credits, Tim Motzer continues to “traverse manifold territories in music” (Guitar Player magazine). Tim is widely known for his distinct textural acoustic-electro guitar voice utilizing looping, bowing, electronics, and prepared techniques. He has collaborated with numerous musical luminaries including David Sylvian, Burnt Friedman, Jaki Liebezeit, poet Ursula Rucker, Kurt Rosenwinkel, King Britt, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Vernon Reid, David Torn, and Pat Mastelotto, among others. His film/TV credits include the hit HBO series True Blood as well as Miami Vice, a major motion picture directed by Michael Mann. As an in-demand, solo live composer/improviser in the world of modern dance, Tim co-creates alongside master choreographers at Princeton University and the University of the Arts. For the past 20 years, Tim has brought his dynamic, eclectic array of musical projects together under his own 1k Recordings imprint, which has over 40 releases and counting. He composes, records, and produces his own solo and collaborative work, along with projects for other artists.


TIM SZETELA (Faculty) is a Brooklyn-based designer and artist who works with a varying toolset of analog and digital media, software, and code. He makes animation, maps, archives, games, and other interfaces that visualize patterns of motion, data, and technology. His films have screened at international animation festivals, including Anima Mundi, Annecy, Holland, Ottawa, Stuttgart, and Zagreb. He has shown work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Museum of the Moving Image, Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), and digital art and technology exhibitions around the world. Rewordable, the game he co-designed using computational linguistics, was published by Penguin Random House in 2017. He currently is a Lecturer in Visual Arts at Princeton University and has taught at Harvard, NYU (in New York and Shanghai), School of Visual Arts, and the Monterrey Institute of Technology (in Querétaro, Mexico).


silas rienerSILAS RIENER (Faculty) graduated from Princeton University in 2006. As a dancer he has worked with Chantal Yzermans, Takehiro Ueyama, Christopher Williams, Joanna Kotze, Jonah Bokaer, Rebecca Lazier, Kota Yamazaki, Tere O’Connor, Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey. He was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) from November 2007 until its closure at the end of 2011, and he received a 2012 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for his solo performance in Cunningham’s Split Sides. While performing with MCDC, Silas completed his MFA in Dance at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (2008). Since 2010 he has collaborated with Rashaun Mitchell. In 2013 along with Rashaun Mitchell he was named one of Dance Magazine‘s “25 to Watch.” He is a licensed stager for the Merce Cunningham Trust.


olivier smiling in tan hat and red shirt

Photo by Margo Tamize

OLIVIER TARPAGA (Faculty) is a Lester Horton Award-winning choreographer and musician, a guest dance lecturer and the director of the African music ensemble for Princeton University’s Department of Music. Olivier’s dance and music work — described as “unforgettable” by the Los Angeles Times, “extraordinary” by The New York Times and “Exceptionally smart work” by Broad Street Review – Philadelphia — is hybrid contemporary dance theater with an emphasis on live music. Olivier is the founder and artistic director of Dafra Drum and Dafra Kura Band and co-founder of the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. He danced with David Rousseve/REALITY from 2006 to 2010, when he was also a State Department Art Envoy in South Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, and Sri Lanka. Commissions: Wind of Nomads for Malaysia’s HANDS percussion; RESIST, RESURGE: Traces of Hope for MAYA dance theater of Singapore; The way of sands for the Temple of Fine Arts in Perth, Australia; and Visage for Zig Zag Ballet in Connecticut.





View the Main Dance Festival Program information »

View the Program for November 23 performance choreographed by Peter Chu »

View the Program for December 3 performance led by Francesca Harper »

View the Program for December 4 performances led by Rebecca Lazier + Dean Moss »