need to challenge yourself in many ways," according to Yoshiko Chuma, doyenne
of The School of Hard Knocks. One way is to collaborate with younger dancers,
whose more academic training inclines them toward a facility with props you didn't
find in the earlier generation of dancers. When you have a collection of props
in storage since the early 1980s, there is a treasure trove for experimentation,
and this was the impetus behind "AGITPROPS: the Recycling Project,"
a new work to be presented December 5 to 15 by The Club at La MaMa.
The piece is a new collaborative
performance,conceived and directed by Chuma, featuring four stellar collaborating
artists from the younger generation of the dance and performance scene: Taryn
Griggs, Karinne Keithley, Jeff Larson and Chris Yon. Chuma remembers, if she
thinks hard, what the props were used for originally; the ensemble members don't,
and this gives birth to a series of surprises. An Object Elyseum is born with
beach chairs, piles of The New York Post, hardhats, metronomes, a giant bananna
and eight, count 'em eight, megaphones. It's all set in a maze of shelves created
by Tom Lee.
The objects are re-objectified
in dances that sometimes don't have much movement and often make a lot of noise.
Sound poetry was and is a key component of Yoshiko Chuma's work and what
the heck, there were eight bullhorns to work with. (Those bullhorns weren't
cheap, she remembers. Too bad they haven't been used since "The Housing Project"
in 1986.) Metronomes, on the other hand, have been a staple of Chuma's devices
for almost 15 years.
The four "anchor artists"
have been working to develop their segments both individually and in collaboration,
under the direction of Yoshiko Chuma. Taryn Griggs, Karinne Keithley, Jeff
Larson and Chris Yon transforn the NY Post into high coture, tremble in
suitcases, elicit industrial sounds from a soccer ball, emit light from
megaphones and muse on oranges.
Since 1984, the School
of Hard Knocks has also had a reputation for introducing a fresh new
generation of performers and collaborating with mature seasoned artists. "AGITPROPS."
continues this tradition by also bringing in a series of guests familiar to
the School of Hard Knocks, including Anthony Phillips, Meg Wolfe and Maggie
O'Brien. The troupe is a collaborative effort of choreographers, dancers, actors,
singers, musicians, designers, and visual artists working under the Artistic
Direction of Yoshiko Chuma. It has created and performed original works in the
US, Europe and in Asia, continuing to expand The School of Hard Knocks "pipeline."
Over the course of the company's history, more than 1,000 people have performed
under Chuma's direction in situations ranging from theatrical dance concerts
to street performances, parades, and large-scale spectacles.
Yoshiko Chuma was born in Osaka, Japan and
has lived and worked in the United States since 1978. Chuma has created more
than 45 full-length company works, and as commissions and site-specific events
for venues across the world. Her work has been presented in New York in venues
ranging from the Joyce Theater to the legendary annual Halloween Parade;
and abroad in such varied locations as the formal National Theater of Sarajevo,
to the perimeter of the Hong Kong harbor to an ancient ruin in Macedonia.
She is comfortable creating work in nearly any environment that challenges
perceptions of performance to both audience and participant. Ms. Chuma is
the recipient of several fellowships and awards for choreography and career
work from: John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, NEA, NYFA, Japan Foundation,
Meet the Composer Choreographer/Composer Commission, Philip Morris New Works,
and received a 1984 BESSIE award for choreography and creation. She has led
workshops and master classes in East and West Europe, Asia, Russia and the
U.S. In 1992 at La MaMa, she choreographed "Jo Ha Ku," a work performed
to a score by Tan Dun. In 1997, she was choreographer of "Golem" by
Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater, which had music composed, aranged
and directed by Frank London (The Klezmatics) and following its La MaMa debut,
was subsequently featured in the 1998 Jim Henson International Festival of Puppet
Theater. Her last production was "PI=3.14" at The Club at La MaMa.
a sometimes independent creator/performer, is more often associated with Justin
Jones and their Chris & Justin Medicine Show.
Karinne Keithley is a choreographer, writer and sound designer
currently living in Brooklyn. Her work has been seen in downtown NYC/Brooklyn
since 1995 at venues including DTW, Danspace Project, Dixon Place, Dancenow,
Joyce SoHo, and Galapagos. She currently performs with David Neumann, Yoshiko
Chuma and Paul Matteson. She is the founder of the Fancy Stitch Machine, a
production company dedicated to the proliferation of low-cost joy.
a grad of North Carolina School of the Arts, has worked with Mary Cochran,
Sara Hook, Ivy Baldwin, Anna Sperber and Alexander Gish. In 2002 she performed
in Susan Rethorst's, Behold Bold Sam Dog at St. Marks Church. Taryn recently
returned from the Bessie Schonberg residency at the Yard where she worked
with Johannes Wieland and Chris Yon.
an NYU/Tisch grad, is a director, performer, designer and technician,who co-founded
PHILIFOR & PHILIMOR with fellow NYU alum Annie Campbell. It has produced
Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" (directed by Larson) and "Rough Draft,"
an original multimedia concert conceived by Adam Weiner (staged and technically
directed by Larson). He has collaborated with Chris Yon and Justin Jones and
appeared widely around town in both theater and dance productions.
This production is supported
by the Dance Program of New York State Council on the Arts and private donations.