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US V THEM: A Showcase of Young Improvisers

Public Programs

US V THEM: A Showcase of Young Improvisers

October 1 2010

Over the course of an extended rehearsal process at the New Museum, director/choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones revisited the seminal work THEM, an intensely visceral interdisciplinary collaboration with Dennis Cooper (text) and Chris Cochrane (music), originally presented at Performance Space 122 in 1986. Presented as part of RE:NEW RE:PLAY Performance Residency Series, the rehearsals at the New Museum culminated in a series of programs collectively titled THEM AND NOW, exploring the artistic impulses that propelled the creation of this “aggressive and vital” (Village Voice) performance work and its reconstruction twenty-five years later. Immediately following the New Museum residency, THEM received its 2010 premiere at Performance Space 122, October 21–30, 2010. The production was included on several “Best Of” lists in dance press, including The New York Times.

Part of THEM AND NOW, US V THEM presented an evening of performance from young improvisers of today. Curated by THEM director and choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones, US V THEM featured the work of those who keeping the practice of improvisation and improvised performance alive and well.

For US V THEM, Ishmael Houston Jones curated five male dance artists, Felix Cruz, Niall Noel, Brandin Steffensen, Arturo Vidich, and Enrico Wey, who in a variety of ways demonstrate how the diverse techniques of improvisation can be used to create work. The practices they employ include contact improvisation, street dancing, vogueing, dancing with visual art objects, an extension of more traditional modern dance, and several other avenues of approach.

“I’ve known them in different contexts: some have been students of mine, some have appeared in my work; some I’ve seen in performance; and some I’ve jammed with. They range in age from early twenties to early thirties. One has lived in New York all his life; another is newly arrived here. They make very different kinds of work, one from the other but in each of them I see a continuation of the kinds of movement experimentation and research I was exploring as a dance-maker thirty years ago.” —Ishmael Houston-Jones