Apr 25, 2015

Coffeehouse #125: Yoshiko Chuma & The School of Hard Knocks

Curator: Michal Gamily | Moderator: Gayle Tufts

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Spend an intimate afternoon celebrating the work of Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks. Chuma will present three panels, each panel dedicated to a different period of her work. There will be 3 1⁄2 generations of witnesses, from 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2015, including four artists from the original 1982 School of Hard Knocks (SOHK) Gayle Tufts, Brian Moran, Nelson Zayas and Chuma, plus those who joined projects within the last year. Founding member and singer / songwriter / performer Gayle Tufts, will emcee the event.

Panelists: Elise Bernhardt | Yoshiko Chuma | Ursula Eagly | Robert Flynt | Allyson Green | Deborah Jowitt | Jodi Melnick | Brian Moran | Mizuo Peck | Lori E. Seid | Bonnie Sue Stein | Gabriel Berry | Nicky Paraiso

Performance: Robert Black | Jacob Burckhardt | Ursula Eagly | Megumi Eda | Robert Flynt | Brian Moran | Nicky Paraiso | Miriam Parker | Dane Terry

Screenings: Archival footage of the works of Yoshiko Chuma

About Yoshiko Chuma

Yoshiko Chuma, 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 pre-determined 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 1982. She is a force to be reckoned with on stage and off, and for this event, in her signature way, she gathers an eclectic group of collaborators spanning the years of her career, from 1982-now. Photo credit: Faisal (2015)

About the Panel & Performers

Elise Bernhardt is a nationally acclaimed arts executive and longtime resident of Brooklyn. She brings a vast knowledge of our community, a deep understanding of the performing arts field, fresh and creative ideas for partnerships, and a tireless hunger to grow this dynamic institution. A nationally acclaimed curator, producer, and advisor of arts programming, Ms. Bernhardt was most recently President and CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Culture. During her eight-year tenure, she initiated the New Jewish Culture Network, a commissioning and touring program that focused on new Jewish music. Ms. Bernhardt also created numerous grant programs, including a documentary film fund, a fund for scholars, and she was instrumental in the creation of the American Academy in Jerusalem for which she remain­s an advisor.

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, David Adjmi, Samuel Beckett, Charles Ludlam, Caryl Churchill, Christopher Durang, Ethyl Eichelberger, Richard Foreman, The Five Lesbian Brothers, Maria Irene Fornes, John Guare, Lameece Isaaq, Nick Jones, Craig Lukas, Mabou Mines, Naomi Wallace, Kia Corthran, Will Power, Marcus Gardley, Scott Z. Burns, Meredith Monk, Chuck Mee, Tony Kushner, Peter Sellars, Phillip Glass, Harold Pinter, Reinaldo Povod, Mabou Mines, Tennessee Williams, and Brandon Jacob Jenkins. Notable honors include OBIE, Bessie and Lucille Lortel awards and a silver medal from the Prague Quadrennial for her contribution to experimental Theater. Upcoming projects include John Adam’s and Peter Sellars’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary for the English National Opera Public Theater.

Robert Black tours the world creating unheard of music for the solo double bass. He collaborates with the most adventurous composers, musicians, dancers, artists, actors, and technophiles from all walks of life. He is a founding and current member of the Bang On A Can All Stars. His current project, titledPossessed, is a series of solo improvisatory outdoor performances in Utah’s rugged canyon/desert landscape which will be released in DVD and CD format on Cantaloupe Records in 2015. He has also recorded solo CD’s for Mode Records (The Complete Bass Music of Christian Wolff and The Bass Music of Giacinto Scelsi), New World Records (Modern American Bass), O.O. Discs (State of the Bass), and his All Stars recordings on Cantaloupe Records.  Robert teaches at the Hartt School/University of Hartford, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Festival Eleazar de Carvalho in Brazil. www.robertblack.org

Jacob Burckhardt, all the while making underground movies, worked at a variety of jobs: Blueberry picker, Steel Mill laborer, grape harvester, Fuller Brush man, Truck driver, Taxi driver, camera repairman. He did sound recording and mixing from North Africa to the porn industry. In 1980 THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, a music-dance-film collaboration between Alvin Curran, Yoshiko Chuma and him was presented at the Venice Film Festival. Since then he has worked on many SOHK projects. In 1984 he directed and produced his first feature, IT DON’T PAY TO BE AN HONEST CITIZEN, with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Vincent D’Onofrio and a cameo by Rudy Burckhardt, which screened at the Berlin Film Festival and others.   After he made his second one, LANDLORD BLUES, he eschewed the money raising ratrace, and prefers shorts, in film and video, where it is possible to preserve a direct relationship between the film and the film makers.

Ursula Eagly was a core performer in Yoshiko Chuma’s “A Page Out of Order” series from 2006-2011. This project was created in Albania, Macedonia, Japan, and Romania in collaboration with incredible local artists, many of whom Ursula remains friends with to this day. Ursula is a New York City-based dance artist, and her creations have been commissioned and presented by The Chocolate Factory, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, Dance New Amsterdam, and Mount Tremper Arts, among others.

Megumi Eda is from Nagano, Japan. Megumi has danced with the Matsuyama ballet (Tokyo), the Hamburg Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and the Rambert Dance Company in London and worked with many choreographers, including John Neumeier, Mats Ek, Christopher Bruce, Jiri Kylian, Lindsey Kemp, William Forsythe, and Hans van Manen. In 2004 she moved to NY to join Armitage Gone! Dance and the same year received a Bessie Award for her performance in the company’s inaugural piece and has continued a close collaboration with Karole Armitage to this day. Now, as a freelance artist, she has begun to incorporate other art forms including sculpture, video and graphics into her installations and performances.

Robert Flynt has had his work widely exhibited in the United States and abroad since 1980. It has been shown in major museums, galleries,  and alternative spaces, as well as in collaborative performance and dance projects. In 1992 he was included in “New Photography 8”  at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where his work is in the permanent collection, as well as in the Metropolitan Museum, The International Center of Photography (NY), and L.A. County Museum, among many others. Flynt’s collaborative projects include commissions from Brooklyn Academy of Music with choreographer Bebe Miller in 1989, and the L.A. International Arts Festival with Ishmael Houston-Jones and Dennis Cooper in 1990, and with Yoshiko Chuma on The Yellow Room,  Daghdha Dance Company (Ireland) in 2003. Body-Scan, a image/performance project with choreographers Benoit Lachambre and Su-Feh Lee,  premiered at Le Quartz in France in March, 2008 and toured internationally in 2009. In March 2009 he collaborated with Pavel Zustiak/Palissimo on Weddings and Beheadings, premiering in New York at the Ailey Center Theater. The pair received a Baryshnikov Arts Center residency in 2010 and premiered their collaboration, Amidst, there in June, 2011. This continues as Part 2 of Palissimo’s The Painted Bird trilogy, which premiered at the Wexner Center for the Arts in September 2012.  Flynt’s collaboration with choreographer Yoshiko Chuma, “Love Story, Palestine” was presented at La Mama ETC in New York in May of 2012. His most recent projects were Octavio Campos’ “Triple Quince”, at Miami Light Project and Baryshnikov Arts Center in NYC in January of 2014, and “Exit Strategies” with ChrisMastersDance at Triskelion Arts in December.

Allyson Green is a choreographer, visual artist, curator and arts educator. Currently she is the Dean of Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Integrating artistic creative development and education, advocacy for the arts, and service to the local and international community has been the mission of her multi-faceted career. Her creative research has been particularly influenced by two decades of residencies in East and Central Europe, South America, and Mexico; community projects for arts engagement; and ongoing site-specific collaborations with visual artist Peter Terezakis, exploring the intersection of art and technology to highlight environmental issues. She was inspired by her work with Yoshiko Chuma and SOHK in Macedonia and in the Living Room Projects in 1997-98.

Deborah Jowitt began to perform professionally in 1953, to choreograph in 1961, and to write about dance for The Village Voice in 1967. She has published two collections: Dance Beat (1977) and The Dance in Mind (1985) in addition to Time and the Dancing Image (1988) and Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance (2004). She edited and contributed to Meredith Monk (1997). Her essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and her criticism is now published at artsjournal.com. She lectures and conducts workshops worldwide, as well as teaching in the Dance Department of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Jodi Melnick is a New York City based choreographer, dancer, and teacher. Melnick is a 2014 Doris Duke Impact Award recipient,  a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, a Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Grant (2010-2011), a Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2011 Grants to Artists Award, and has been honored with two New York Dance and Performance (Bessies) Awards for sustained achievement in dance (2001 and 2008). Her work has been presented at The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), City Center, The Joyce Theater, New York Live Arts (NYLA), The Kitchen,  La Mama., Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, Martha’s Vineyard, OtherShore Dance Company,  Barnard College, Sarah Lawrence College, George Washington University,  for Taryn Griggs  (2014 Mcknight awardee), and internationally, with Yoshiko Chuma in Japan, Ireland, and Estonia. In 2012, Melnick collaborated with Trisha Brown, creating and performing the solo One of Sixty Five Thousand Gestures.  She performed in a trio with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Hristoula Harakas and danced with the Twyla Tharp Dance Company from 1991-94 and again in 2009. Currently, Melnick teaches technique and composition/choreography at Barnard College, NYU (  Experimental Theater Wing), as a guest teacher at Sarah Lawrence College, and The Trevor Day School.

Brian Moran was a founding and original member of the School of Hard Knocks.

Miriam Parker is a New York City born and bred dancer/performance artist and arts organizer. She feels very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the School of Hard Knocksfor the past three years. She lived in Europe and Israel from 2002-2007 at which time she worked and studied with Choreographers Amanda Miller, William Forsythe, and The Saarbruken ballet. In recent years she has been building her reputation in collaborative performance art, working with the artist Jo Wood Brown on a interdisciplinary project “InnerCity Projects”. She has collaborated with, Katy Martin, Alain Kirili and Anita Glesta. Miriam Parker’s work has been presented in numerous Vision Events in New York and Paris as well as at Under the Bridge Festival etc. In this past years she has danced with choreographer Sally Silvers and Andrea Miller. Miriam Parker is part of the team that is reshaping Arts for Art into a center of collaborative innovative art in New York.

Mizuo Peck is an actress born and raised in NYC. She is best known for her role as Sacajawea in all three of the 20th Century Fox Night at the Museum movies. Other Film and TV credits include A Case of You, Almost in Love, Scenes of the Crime, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and All My Children. In Theater, Mizuo has been part of the NY International Fringe Festival, the Samuel French Play Festival, and the New Performance Series at the Incubator Arts Project. At the Public Theater, she performed Suzan-Lori Park’s 365 Days/365 Plays and All’s Well That Ends Well as a company member of their exclusive Shakespeare Lab Program. For more visit Mizuopeck.com

Lori E. Seid started in the downtown theater community in 1984 while working in a Xerox shop in Greenwich Village. In 1987 she quit that job to work and tour with Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks. Seid is a stage manager, production manager, and lighting designer who also produces theatre; film; and television. She is the recipient of The Obie, A Bessie, and The Theatre Craft International Award all for sustained achievement in theatre and several Daytime Emmy’s for producing tv. Presently, she works with Rosie O’Donnell and was the consulting producer for the HBO documentary, A Heartfelt Standup, as well as producing live shows with Cyndi Lauper for her True Colors Fund.

Bonnie Sue Stein is the executive director and founder of GOH Productions, a New York City-based arts services organization that creates, develops and produces performing and visual arts projects. From 1982 to 1988, Bonnie worked in performing arts at Asia Society and as an independent director in New York.  With GOH, she has produced arts projects in New York City, East/Central Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and the Middle East. As a writer, she has contributed articles on the performing arts to Dance Magazine, The Village Voice, BAM Next Wave Journal, Kennedy Center, and other publications. With Yoshiko Chuma and The School of Hard Knocks, she has collaborated and produced numerous international projects since 1992. Since 1988, with GOH Productions she has produced and collaborated on numerous projects at La MaMa.

Gayle Tufts was born in Brockton, Massachusetts in 1960. She attended NYU where she studied at the Experimental Theater Wing. She was a member of The School of Hard Knocks from 1983-89, performing and teaching with Yoshiko throughout the US and Europe. In addition she worked with Anne Bogart, David Gordon/Pick Up Co, Dancenoise, and Ain Gordon, among others. In 1990, Tufts relocated to Berlin, where she has established herself as one of Germany’s most critically acclaimed and prolific entertainers. She writes and produces her own hit shows, appearing on nationwide television and radio as well as extensively touring in theaters and festivals. On stage Tufts revitalizes the classic cabaret format combining music, comedy, and choreography to create intelligent, heartfelt shows that celebrate her American roots, her German Wahlheimat and the ongoing transatlantic adventure that is her life. She has published four books, released six albums and appeared in works from Tanzfabrik, the Rotterdam Dans Groep and the Komische Oper Berlin. This is her first performance in New York in 25 years.

Nelson Zayas was an original member of The School of Hard Knocks. In the 1980s and 1990s he danced in the works of Pooh Kaye, Susan Rethorst and Steven Petronio. He retired from the peformance world in 1993. He and his husband Nick Bewsey own Blue Raccoon Home Furnishings in Lambertville, NJ.

Nicky Paraiso is Director of Programming at The Club at La MaMa and is also Curator for the annual La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival, now celebrating its 10thAnniversary.  He has been an actor/performer in the NY downtown theater, dance and performance scene since 1979, working with Jeff Weiss and Carlos Ricardo Martinez, Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, Yoshiko Chuma & The School of Hard Knocks, Anne Bogart, John Jesurun, Dan Hurlin, Dan Froot, Jessica Hagedorn, Robbie McCauley, Laurie Carlos, Richard Elovich, Fred Holland, Mary Shultz, Mark Bennett, among many others. Nicky’s one-man shows (including Asian Boys, Houses and Jewels and House/Boy) have been presented at La MaMa, Dixon Place, BACA Downtown, PS 122, Dance Theater Workshop, Pillsbury House Theater (Minneapolis), the 4th Int’l Festival of Cabaret (Mexico City), the KO Festival (Amherst College), Dublin Theatre Festival and the Initiation Performance Festival in Singapore (both in 2007). Paraiso’s awards include a 1987 BESSIE Award, a 2004 Spencer Cherashore Fund grant for mid-career actors, a 2005 NY Innovative Theater Award, and the 2012 BAX Arts and Artists in Progress Arts Manager Award.  He has served on various theater, dance and music panels, and has also been a member of the BESSIES Selection Committee since 2006.

Dane Terry is a composer, performer and songwriter.  Terry’s songs are often surreal theatrical vignettes and draw on a wide range of musical styles and are usually woven between short monologues.  His solo shows include Bird In The House (La MaMa), A Chimebox Sermon (Dixon Place) and The Future Lies West (Bowery Poetry Club).  Apart from his solo work he has collaborated with many artists including writer, monologist, and songwriter David Cale in Hello, Cowboy(Dixon Place) and he music-directed and accompanied for Dan Fishback’s The Material World (Dixon Place) and Justin Sayre’s In My Girlish Days (Joe’s Pub).  He will appear as pianist and composer with Yoshiko Chuma inπ= 3.14…NOTHINg, or EVERYTHINg” at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater in early June, and again with Tova Shoshana in Take The Candy But Don’t Get In The Car at The Duplex, June 26.

Coffeehouse Chronicles


Coffeehouse Chronicles is an educational performance series exploring the history of Off-Off-Broadway. Part artist-portrait, part history lesson, and part community forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles take an intimate look at the development of downtown theatre, from the 1960s’ “Coffeehouse Theatres” through today.

Special Event