May 23, 2024
May 26, 2024

Shared Program: Chris Yon & Taryn Griggs and Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks

Yoggs Family Newsletter (NY Edition) by Chris Yon & Taryn Griggs

Extreme Classics in the School of Hard Knocks by Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks (Dennis O’Connor and Dane Terry)

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YOGGS FAMILY NEWSLETTER (2014–present) is a dance and sound collage created and performed by Taryn Griggs and Chris Yon, narrated by their daughter Bea Yon.

Taryn Griggs and Chris Yon create original dance works that are deadpan slapstick, understated melodrama, autobiographical science fiction, cubist vaudeville, asymmetrically consonant explorations of magic and virtuosity in everyday movement. For the last few years, their daughter Bea Yon has joined their practice and they work under the moniker, The Yoggs. The Yoggs are a family trio ensemble making autobiographical sound and dance collages. Their “Yoggs Family Newsletter” is about the ephemerality of parenthood and childhood. How they as a family create memories and how they perform memories inscribed on their bodies. Their newsletter is a growing collection of dances that addresses how they capture experiences and attach significance to when and where they dance together and who they meet along the way as part of their family story.

Chris and Taryn are School of Hard Knocks alums. They first performed at La MaMa in Yoshiko Chuma's show, "Agit Props" with a set by Tom Lee in the Club in 2002. They are excited to reunite and share a show with Yoshiko back in The Club at La MaMa 22 years later.

Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks' EXTREME CLASSICS — extreme avant-garde toward extreme classic. 

Four remarkable artists join forces in Extreme Classics in the School of Hard Knocks: choreographers/dancers Yoshiko Chuma and Dennis O’Connor, accompanied by Dane Terry on piano. Costumes by Gabriel Berry. This is extreme avant-garde for extreme classics by Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks.

Performers interact, but not directly—a parallel to incidents of our life experience and a metaphor for “endless, continuous circles of life and war.” Mountains of correspondence, a nightmare of miscommunications, frayed emotions, botched promises, excuses, and cultural challenges, pinpointing the most important experiences and emotions of how the audience perceives and understands the results of war and why.

Photos of Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs by Zoe Litaker
Photo of Yoshiko Chuma by Julie Lemberger

Concept and Composition by Yoshiko Chuma
Dancer: Dennis O’Connor  and Yoshiko Chuma
Accompanist Dane Terry on piano
Costume: Gabriel Berry
Artworks: Tim Clifford, Kelly Bugden & Van Wifvat
Assistant to Yoshiko Chuma: Santiago Molina

Yoshiko Chuma (conceptual artist, choreographer/artistic director of The School of Hard Knocks) has been a firebrand in the post-modern dance scene of New York City since the 1980s, has been consistently producing thought-provoking work that is neither dance nor theater nor film nor any other predetermined category. She is an artist on her own journey. A path that has taken her to over 40 “out of the way” countries and collected over 2000 artists, thinkers and collaborators of every genre since establishing her company The School of Hard Knocks in New York City in 1980. 

Statement: We refute the idea of an immigration travel ban - America is a nation of immigrants. We want the participants and our audience to see the other parts of the world in a new light. This is about sharing experiences – sharing experiences of other lives and other worlds. And through our sharing, explore what can and can’t be felt through our varied cultural and historical differences.

*Acknowledgement: Yoshiko’s experience in Palestine with dancer and activist Noora Baker (one of the leading dancers and directors of the El-Funoun Palestinian Popular Dance Troupe company in Ramallah, Palestine) has been a substantial inspiration for this project.  

Dennis O'Connor graduated from SUNY Purchase & joined the Merce Cunningham company. After leaving the company he worked with Irene Hultman, Joseph Lennon & Ann Papoulis. He presented work at the Gas Station, The World, Martha @ Mother, PS 122, St. Mark's Church and the Kitchen. He was choreographer in residence at Remote Control Productions Amsterdam/ Michel Laub from 1997 - 2002. He was honored to be on the creative team for Trisha Brown's final opera, Salvatore Sciarrino's DaGelo a Gelo produced at the Paris Opera. He later worked with Regine Chopinot/Ballet Atlantique for "Cornucopia" and with Jodi Melnick Dance.Currently, he is living in the beautiful Catskills, upstate New York and recently assisted Ann Papoulis on "Seine Musings" in Paris. This is his second project with Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks. 

Dane Terry is a multimedia storyteller, composer and visual artist. As a performer of his own work he has performed all over North America, Europe and Asia. Dane was the writer, composer and lead performer of the musical fiction podcast miniseries Dreamboy(Night Vale Presents 2018). Works for stage include: Jupiter's Lifeless Moons (PSNY 2018) and Bird In The House (La MaMa 2015, Under The Radar Festival 2016). Dane was the 2016 recipient of the Ethyl Eichelberger Award from PSNY. As a visual artist he has exhibited in galleries in NYC and Ohio and maintains a robust output online. 

Gabriel Berry designs costumes for theater, dance and opera. Specializing in the creation of new work, she has designed premieres of the works of artists including John Adams, Samuel Beckett, Charles Ludlam, Ann Bogart, Caryl Churchill, Lucinda Childs, Christopher Durang, Ethyl Eichelberger, Richard Foreman, The Five Lesbian Brothers, Mabou Mines, Naomi Wallace, Kia Corthran, Will Power, Marcus Gardley, Scott Z. Burns, Meredith Monk, Chuck Mee, Tony Kushner, Peter Sellars, Phillip Glass, Taylor Mac, Harold Pinter, Reinaldo Povod, Mabou Mines, Tennessee Williams, Brandon Jacob Jenkins and Yoshiko Chuma and The school of hard knocks. Notable honors include OBIE, Bessie andLucille Lortel awards and a silver medal from the Prague Quadrennial for her contribution to experimental Theater.

Tim Clifford is a visual artist whose sculptures, drawings, and paintings address how vernacular objects and images accrue meaning and shape history.  His most recent work combines elements of American carnival games with imagery drawn from mourning and funeral settings. Clifford’s work was seen this past summer in the exhibition “Gathering of the Bungalows” at Walter’s, Rockaway Beach, NY. Clifford’s public sculpture “Monument to a Missing Island”was seen in Randall’s Island Park, New York, in 2016 as park of the exhibition “FLOW.16.” His 2015 solo exhibition “Threat Assessment” was presented at Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project, New York. Other exhibitions include group shows at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Greenwood Cemetery, Socrates Sculpture Park, and High Desert Test Sites 5 in Joshua Tree, California.  Clifford participated in the Artist in the Marketplace program of the Bronx Museum of the Arts in 2015, and received an Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park in 2007 and a NYFA fellowship in sculpture in 2001.

Van Wifvat grew up with eight siblings and studied art at MCAD in Minneapolis. In 1979 he opened Rock-It, a storefront art gallery in Minneapolis, to promote the work of local artists. The space also featured printed materials: art books, periodicals, fanzines, and postcards. Wifvat moved to New York in 1983 to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons. In 1987, he cofounded the Van Gregory and Norton design studio, specializing in curtain hardware, convex mirrors, and decorative pieces to the trade. With studio-partner Kelly Bugden, he began an art collective to present work created both as a duo and individually. The collective has also collaborated with other artists in fabricating specific projects.  

Kelly Bugden obtained a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Georgia in 1976. He moved to New York in 1982 to pursue a career in art and commercial photography. His work appeared in books and magazines dealing with architecture and interiors, food and entertaining, and gardening. In 2005, Bugden joined forces with Van Wifvat at Van Gregory and Norton. Bugden’s interest in sculpture and materials, honed through observation and experimentation, led to the collaboration that evolved into their collective.

Santiago Molina is a Colombian multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. He was born and grew up in Pereira, Colombia, where he finished High School, and moved to New York City in 2023 to pursue the two-year conservatory Acting program at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He now holds an Associate degree in Occupational Studies from this institution. Santiago explores his culture, sexuality, and gender through his footage, self-portraits, and writing. His Latinidad deeply inspires his artistic creations. He joined the School of Hard Knocks in April 2024, a year after watching Yoshiko's show Shockwave Delay at La MaMa.

La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival


La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival continues to support La MaMa’s commitment to presenting diverse performance styles that challenge audience’s perception of dance by featuring performance/installations, experimental film screenings & public symposiums which address dance artists’ engagement with the current political climate, as well as honoring diasporic histories and legacy, ancestral inspirations and inter-generational dialogue.

Special Event