Billy Clark, a member of La MaMa's Great
Jones Rep and leading dancer with Tamar Rogoff and Min Tanaka, has formed
his own company, Dusara Dance. The troupe will debut with PLACE POEMS,
a postmodern work inspired by Sufi love and devotional poetry by Hafiz
and Rumi. In it, a variety of dances are interwoven beneath a towering
tree framed by a giant projection screen. The dancers, accompanied by
live musicians and a haunting sound score, search for their place in a
disappearing natural world.
PLACE POEMS was developed as a work in progress this past summer during
a residence at La MaMa Umbria, in Spoleto, Italy. It will be performed
by Clark and four other dancers: Abby Rasminsky, Rob Laqui, Matt Lillis
and Lizzy Tyler.
Music will be primarily a collaboration of two live musicians. Composer
Neel Murgai, who is Indian by heritage, contributes throat singing and
plays sitar, daf (an Iranian rim drum) and ocarina. A percussionist will
play tabla (a classical Indian instrument comprised of two drums, one
of wood and one metal) and other hand percussion instruments. The live
music will be integrated with sound design by Grant Gregory which employs
natural sounds and samples and which will be triggered live so as to interact
spontaneously with the action.
The set by Andrew Christman is an abstract representation of a very tall
tree, with a circle of stones and earthen area at its base. These are
framed by a large projection screen behind and one or two TV monitors
on wheeling boxes. Projections include images from nature and excerpts
from solos the dancers performed in Italy in specific natural settings,
which are interwoven with the live performances. Video design is by Rob
Hall. The dancers will be painted and costumed as ghostly white spirits.
Excerpts from poets by Hafiz and Rumi are occasionally used in English
Clark, who lived in India for two and a half years, conceived this piece
there and formed his company for it. He named the troupe Dusara Dance
after "Dusara Duniya," meaning "another world" in
The piece began as a duet between Clark and Abby Rasminsky called "Poem,"
which was performed at RED Lab in Dumbo. It used dance, text, video and
an original score to paint a picture of an individual's struggle to find
and hold on to strength of love in a world where the existence of nature
is rapidly disappearing. Inspired by that experience, Clark decided to
develop the piece further and invited the other current dancers to join
him. Last summer, during the residence at La MaMa Umbria, the work-in-progress
was presented in the courtyard of an old church (the location being provided
by the city government of Spoleto).
Billy Clark graduated with honors from the Experimental Theater Wing at
New York University. He has been a member of the Great Jones Repertory
Company since 1996. His work with that company includes Ellen Stewart's
"Oedipus" and "Seven Against Thebes"; "The Trojan
Women," directed by Andrei Serban with music by Elizabeth Swados;
and "Geranos" by Andrea Paciotto and Mia Yoo. He has toured
with the Company to Italy, Turkey, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Austria,
Japan and Korea.
Clark has been a dancer in Tamar Rogoff's Dance Company since 1997. His
appearances with Rogoff include "Demeter's Daughter," a site
specific work which was performed in community gardens, rooftops and the
streets of Manhattan's lower east side, "The Dying Swan Convention,"
which was performed at Dance space, and "Daughter of a Pacifist Soldier,"
which debuted at La MaMa and toured to The Painted Bride and Middlebury
College. Clark has also assisted Tamar Rogoff by teaching dance classes
and leading training sessions for her Company.
He has danced in two of Min Tanaka's world premieres, "Romance"
and "Fire Story," and has trained and worked with Tanaka at
his farm in Japan.
Clark is a founding member of the Brooklyn-based performance ensemble
Morgon Kara, which since 1994 has performed in theaters, gardens, museums,
and public spaces throughout New York. He has directed the two latest
works of this troupe: "The Journey of the Mummy," commissioned
by the Brooklyn Museum Of Art and performed to record breaking numbers
in the museum's Egyptian gallery, and "Bird Man," a site specific
piece funded by Dancing in the Streets and performed on a Brooklyn pier
over looking the Manhattan skyline.
by Eva Yaa Asantewaa
February 4 - 10, 2004
The Mysterious East Frames the Debut of Clark's
Billy Clark's Place Poems, the debut of his troupe Dusara Dance, looks
and sounds like a magnet for possibly too many Eastern artistic elements—Japanese,
Chinese, Indian, Iranian. Inspired by Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, the
hour-long work begins as masked, white-clad Clark stands outside a
curtain that conceals the dance space. It ends similarly, the curtain
once again veiling the path to the Beloved. Between these margins—through
limpid or violent music, video images of rustling branches, drifting
clouds and rushing streams, flawless solo and ensemble dancing—we
witness the passion of wind and water, suggesting the otherwise unfathomable
nature of the divine. The dancers, when not moving butoh-slow or synchronizing
yoga stretches, become overwhelmed by unseen forces or seized by a
compulsion to arch and strain skyward. Some moments have curious radiance—like
Rob Laqui balancing a bucket atop an outstretched palm while maintaining
his own serene equilibrium.