Walker Art Center presents
Choreographers’ Evening 2021
Curated by Valerie Oliveiro
Saturday, November 27, 2021, 4 pm & 7 pm (CST)
Choreographers' Evening 2021
Wattanak Dance Troupe
José A. Luis
Sachiko “La Chayí”
Jessika Enoh Akpaka
(this work is unable to be performed this evening)
Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān
Tonight’s program runs approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.
Some works contain mature content and nudity.
The 4pm performance includes ASL interpretation by Jamillah Hollman.
The 7pm live stream includes automatic closed captioning.
Note from the Curator
Did you ever imagine that for a time in your life, you would be without the experience of witnessing or performing live dance in the ways that you might have taken for granted, for more than 18 months? While we continue to metabolize our lived experiences, as witnesses, makers and dancers, we know that our relationship to our bodies and the people we engage with in performance must shift.
This is not a return because we are still in the waves of the pandemic, because there is still no justice, because there was no departure, because dances in the kitchen, the attic, the basement, the park, at work are still dances, because we don’t want to return.
These makers propose their own unique ways forward—from holding complexity, grounding with the ancient, taking a stand, making a dent, conflating realities, reaching into depths, personal undoings and as with Wattanak Dance Troupe—by continuing a dance that was nearly decimated by war and genocide. Nearly 9 out of 10 of the Cambodian classical dancers did not survive the Khmer Rouge regime.
Curating in these times brings about special responsibilities. There is no better time to consider an evening of (mostly) solos as a cumulative signifier of what we have gone through together as a community. Having been a part of this evening—as crew, as stage manager, as performer and choreographer—I am warmed by what this evening has been for us, and excited and proud by the artists and their voices tonight.
Wattanak Dance Troupe
Robam Tep Monorom (Dance of Heavenly Bliss)
Performed by Saro Nob, Melanie Tit, Garrett Sour, and Gabriella Sour
Music by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia
Robam Tep Monorom (Dance of Heavenly Bliss) is often considered the most beautiful dance in the classical repertory. It embodies the friendship, prosperity, and well-being of the Cambodian people. Male and female deities move in and out of formation around and across the stage, expressing heavenly bliss.
Wattanak Dance Troupe was founded in 2000 by Sodanny Eir and Yousedy Peov who both studied at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Wattanak Dance Troupe is a non-profit organization who strive to preserve and cultivate the Cambodian culture through the art of dance. Through the arts, Wattanak Dance Troupe hopes to advance and propel the Cambodian culture for generations to come throughout the state of Minnesota. Wattanak Dance Troupe performs at a number of annual cultural festivals such as The Festival of Nations in Saint Paul, Minnesota, The Khmer New Year celebration at Watt Munisotaram, the International Festival of Burnsville, Minnesota, the Pan Asian Arts Festival and much more.
Performed by Kealoha Ferreira
Gurgling seed. Swelling sprout. Possess, disturb, inspire. E noho ʻoe i ka wai. Agitate, probe, rouse our remembrance of life; of living healed existence. Indeed you stir the upper air, probe the buried spring, cause the opposite currents to meet. Indeed, a surf of fresh water rises. A grove of koa spreads. Ride, flow, run, go, as water swiftly enacted.
This piece takes inspiration from the chant E Lono E found in Nathaniel B. Emerson’s Pele and Hiʻiaka: A Myth from Hawaii. I was given access to it by hula and nā mea hawaii kumu, Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaole, who introduced her learners to Lono as, “Water processed by the Earth to have a particular charged, healing quality, like ionized water.” This mele came in the midst of the Covid pandemic and the Uprising and Stop Line 3 movements which for me broke open an aquifer of potent and unprocessed hulihia that shifted my understanding of solidarity and relationality as a kanaka maoli to its core. This chant taught me to recognize the frequency of that upheaval as the same frequency water undergoes to transform itself. It gave me a way to practice holding and creating that frequency in my body, encouraging hulili to grow from within.
Kealoha Ferreira is a Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and Chinese dance artist from Nuʻuanu, Oʻahu, now residing in Mni Sota Makoce, land of the Dakota Oyate. She is a performing and teaching artist of Ananya Dance Theatre, the company’s Artistic Associate and a Co-Leader of its St Paul space, the Shawngram Institute for Performance & Social Justice. As a practitioner of Yorchhā, ADTʻs contemporary technique, and an emerging student of Oli and Hula, Kealoha interweaves these transnational feminist and Aloha ʻĀina embodied practices to create work that explores reclamation, ritual, relationality, and continuum while remaining rooted in cultural and kinesthetic specificity. Kealoha is part of the first online cohort of Hālau ʻŌhiʻa, a land and water stewardship training program, and is in her third term with the Iākea cohort. In 2020, she created two dance films at the Mississippi that premiered in festivals by Red Eye Theater and Theater Mu.
Performed by Marcela Michelle and Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān
Original Song by Marcela Michelle
Costumes by Marcela Michelle
Present Stars is an ode to the complex celestial power of transness, femininity, body, earth. A celebration of what is tenable.
Marcela Michelle is a TransDisciplinary artist/educator/facilitator/administrator. She is the Artistic Director of 20% Theatre Company and the Artistic Co-Director of Lightning Rod - a Trans-led arts organism focused on legacy, development, and opportunity for QTGNC artists. As an educator/facilitator, Marcela has worked with Walker Art Center, Uprising Theatre, U of MN Twin Cities, Macalester College, Augsburg University, Hamline University, and the University of Houston. She has presented work with Red Eye, Pangea World Theater, Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio, Queertopia, History Theatre, Mixed Blood Theater, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Rough Magic Performance Company, Mission Theatre Company, Pioneer Place Theater Company, Patrick’s Cabaret, Umbrella Collective, and more. Marcela is a teaching artist in residency with the Hennepin Theatre Trust, and a mentee of Pangea World Theater and Art2Action’s National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation. She is a 2018 Q-STAGE: New Works Series artist and now produces the program with Lightning Rod - insta @lightningrodpresents & @themarcelamichelle
Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān is an interdisciplinary choreographer, improviser and sound artist whose work centers the experience of QTIPOC, and stands in allyship with other marginalized identities. She has presented works at Fresh Oysters Performance Research, Public Functionary, Tek Box, Intermedia Arts, Frey Theatre (Twin Cities, MN) and 9 Herkimer Place (Brooklyn, NY). Collaborators include Dua Saleh, HIJACK, Leila Awadallah, Judith Howard, Rosy Simas, Chris Schlichting, Shayna Allen, Pramila Vasudevan, Megan Mayer, and more.
José A. Luis
What Will Remain
Performed by José A. Luis
Music by Warren Entström
What Will Remain: Rushing blood, stacked bones, activated muscles – these physical attributes connects us. The energy awakened by our shifting environment allows the passive and activated voice within to be heard unapologetically. Once a duet, What Will Remain was recreated as a solo in 2020. Aware of its evolving place in community, this piece embraces the shifts needed to continue communicating the spectrum of anger, tension, healing, and breath.
I perform, I choreograph, I fail, I get-up, I reach, I mistake. Who I am on stage is the same person off stage; still with much to lose, but with some good lighting. My biography continues to unravel as I continue to experience and understand who I am.
José A. Luis was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. Having lived in Milwaukee, Chicago, and now Minneapolis, moving has been part of José’s identity. Considered a “late-dancer,” he began his formal training at UW-Milwaukee where he graduated with a BFA in dance. He performed and created works locally before moving to dance professionally in Chicago. Collaborative pieces as an undergraduate and post-undergraduate saw their way into festivals, residencies, and progress showings during this time. Minneapolis now presents him as an empowered independent solo choreographer - often performing in his own pieces. Merging art and life informs his introspective works, allowing deeper connections with his audiences. New ventures in teaching and dancing for companies again (after a six-year hiatus) renews his energy and commitment to community. His nine-year dream in self-producing an evening length show became reality on September 17th and 18th, 2021. Further details available at www.jose.dance.
recipe for something
Performed by Kayla Schiltgen
Sound Design by Kayla Schiltgen
Music: Climbing by Reed Mathis
recipe for something began with an image that came to me in a daydream. The work is ever evolving as it experiments with intuition and using what is on hand to create. With each rehearsal and performance, the work unfolds itself continuously revealing new discoveries and meaning.
Kayla Schiltgen, a multidisciplinary artist based in Two Harbors, Minnesota, creates emotive experiences through the use of dance, film, visual art, design, and construction. Her live performance work has been presented at the Walker Art Center, the Southern Theater, and the Tek Box, among others, and her screendance films have been shown at festivals both locally and internationally. She also owns a sustainable farm and lodging retreat on Minnesota’s North Shore, where much of her design and construction work can be seen. Recently, Kayla has turned her attention to practicing her craft in the outdoors looking to the natural world as teacher, healer, and collaborator. Playing with improvisation, pace, subtlety, and simplicity, Kayla’s work employs the visceral attunement she experiences as a Highly Sensitive Person and the fervor of compassionate embodiment. Feeling and sensing are the uniting forces for Kayla’s work becoming tools to explore imagination and intuition. Follow her work @kaylaschiltgen.
Performed by Yuki Tokuda
Music by the Imperial Court Ensemble
This is Japanese traditional music which is usually played at a temple or shrine on a holy event. I wanted to explore using this music to choreograph on with a ballet vocabulary to showcase my country of origin and training and experience in international arts.
Yuki Tokuda, originally from Japan, moved to the United States in 2000. Ms. Tokuda has danced professionally with USA Ballet, Peoria Ballet, and the Metropolitan Ballet, and was the principal dancer at Continental Ballet for seven years. She is an international guest dancer and choreographer. She trained at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, the Boston Ballet, Connecticut Ballet, and at Steps on Broadway as one of the first International Visa Program students. She is on faculty at Minnesota Dance Theatre, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and a certified STOTT Pilates teacher. She is recipient of Minnesota State Arts Board and St. Louis Park Arts & Culture Grant. Her choreography was chosen for Choreographer’s Evening at The Walker Arts Center, Wayzata Symphony Orchestra, Wooddale Church, Japan America Society of Minnesota and Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. She is the designer and owner of Yukitard, a custom leotard company. www.yukitokuda.com
Performed by Khary Jackson
Music by Fiona Apple
This song is composed of intersecting layers of voices. For me, each layer represents a need or demand of some sort, often for things happening in the larger world, or with people I hold close personally. These different things can overlap and intersect, and the work of navigating all of it at once can be exhausting. So the journey here is about navigating all of that while centering what I need for myself, simultaneously.
Khary Jackson is a writer, dancer and musician. Khary has written several plays, one of which (Water) was produced in 2009 at Ink and Pulp Theatre in Chicago. In 2020/21 Khary co-composed a MNiatures commission with MN Opera. As a previous artist in the 2018 Choreographers’ Evening, Khary is excited to be back. Khary has been a recipient of several generous grants including the 2019 Jerome Artist Fellowship, the 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship in Writing, the Minnesota State Arts Board’s 2012 Cultural Community Partnership Grant and 2010 Artist Initiative Grant for Poetry, the Many Voices Fellowship from The Playwrights’ Center in 2005 and 2007, as well as the 2009 VERVE Spoken Word Grant from Intermedia Arts. Khary is an alumnus of Cave Canem, the esteemed writing fellowship for Black writers. Khary's poetry book, Any Psalm You Want, was published with Write Bloody Publishing in the spring of 2013.
Sachiko “La Chayí”
American Paradox and I
Performed by Sachiko “La Chayí”
Music by Javier Heredia
Projection and Sound Designer: Miko Simmons
This piece is about the choreographer’s awakening as an immigrant in the U.S. sparked by the death of George Floyd and the following events. It traces her internal journey to discover who she is and where she is at through the repeated history of racial injustice of the U.S. society. She does not consider the piece as Flamenco but rather uses movement and vocabulary to best serve the purpose of the piece.
A native of Osaka, Japan, Sachiko “La Chayí” is a Flamenco dancer, teacher, choreographer and organizer. Her artistic focus is to express the human power and beauty sharing the raw and authentic emotions through Flamenco dance embedded in its music and singing and to communicate with the audience beyond cultural barriers. She identifies herself as an immigrant woman of color in the U.S. context. Sachiko is the recipient of a 2017 McKnight Dancer Fellowship, administered by the Cowles Center and funded by the McKnight Foundation. www.sachikolachayi.com
Miko Simmons is an international, award-winning Multimedia Artist, Theatrical Projection Designer who has been transforming the worlds of theater, opera, dance, museums and fine art installations around the world. His expression blurs the lines between art and technology, theater and cinema, music and art.
Jessika Enoh Akpaka
To the Stars and Back
Performed by Jessika Enoh Akpaka
To the Stars and Back ascends from a space of self-reflection and tragedy to a space of light and infinity.
Jessika Enoh Akpaka is a freelance interdisciplinary artist and entrepreneur born in Memphis, Tennessee, and based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Her first performance was singing a solo to “Heal the World by Michael Jackson” at her preschool graduation ceremony. At a young age she would choreograph and perform for her mom. She, her sisters, and cousin would also choreograph and perform for themselves and for their family. Jessika participated in cheer and was her elementary school’s mascot while living in Memphis. The first place she formally trained was North Minneapolis’ Lundstrum Performing Arts in 2012. Jessika attended Perpich Center for Arts Education and trained at TU Dance while attending Perpich. After graduating from Perpich in 2015, she studied dance at the University of Minnesota for three years. Jessika has received scholarships to study at ARENA DANCES and Garth Fagan’s Summer Intensives. She has trained in Krump with Ololade Gbadamosi-Alashe and Popping with Nebiy Esayas Tesfaldet. Jessika has performed at The Kennedy Center (twice), Lincoln Center, The Minnesota Science Museum, Intermedia Arts, The Cowles Center, The Ordway, Northrop, The O'Shaughnessy, XCel Energy Center, The Frey Theatre, All My Relations Gallery, The Lab Theatre, First Avenue, The Wellstone Center, and Orchestra Hall. She has performed with and in Rosy Simas Danse, Rooted: Hip Hop Choreographer’s Evening produced by Maia Maiden, Atlantis13, MIXTAPE 3 and 4, SHAPESHIFT, Drop The Mic with Curio Dance, and STRONGmovement. She co-produced Listen, which debuted and sold out at The Lab Theatre, and has taught choreography and improvisation in residency at Ballet Co. and Brooklyn Park Center High School.
Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān
(excerpt from) a Dent
Performed by Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān
Sound by Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān
a Dent is a hollow in a hard, even surface made by a blow or an exertion of pressure. a Dent can mean an adverse or diminishing effect; a reduction. a Dent can be found in the walls of a valley where you spend time looking for one. a Dent is the name of this dance I have performed before and am continuing work on. a Dent serving as a place to sit and lay; listen to the earth or process your internal sphere; learn if there's a need to refill said dent or dig deeper into it.
Judith Holo Shuǐ Xiān is an interdisciplinary choreographer, improviser and sound artist. Her work prioritizes and centers the experiences of QTIPOC, and stands an allyship to those of other marginalized identities. She has presented works at venues including Fresh Oysters Performance Research, Walker Art Center, Bryant Lake Bowl, Tek Box, The Southern Theater, Intermedia Arts (Minneapolis, MN), Rochester Art Center, and 9 Herkimer Place (Brooklyn, NY) and has recently enjoyed collaborating with others including Dua Saleh, Emily Gastineau, Rosy Simas, HIJACK/Galia Eibenschutz, Valerie Oliveiro, Leila Awadallah, Judith Howard, Pramila Vasudevan, Megan Meyer, and Erin Drummond. She is a 2017 Q-Stage: New Works and 2019 Momentum: New Dance Works recipient. She’s excited to be on the McGuire stage again in May '22 for Heather Kravas’ solid objects.
Performed by Doña Pepa (Pedro Pablo)
Text by Pedro
Sound: Quimbara by Johnny Pacheco, interpreted by Celia Cruz
Costume by Samantha Fromm Haddow
Feathers by Keke Boudreaux
Pasties by Siren and Ice
Genital cover by Manuge et Toi
I wrote the text in reaction to current capitalistic pride. Bringing attention to hypocrisy: of straight folks extracting from us, of cis people’s hunger for our skin. The real violence in hand of these behaviors. And the continuity of the queer body beyond these conditions across time and space. Marica Tropical is the phoenix rising from the ashes. It is my body transcending physical form. Slowly burning in flames for new life to emerge. Magenta bird, colorful Caribbean animal, dancing before this body, through my veins, and after I am ashes.
Doña Pepa creates children and family programing with their co-directors Emily Zimmer and Siddeeqah Shabazz for Drag Story Hour. Tonight she switches to her draglesque prowess of fierce fiery tease invoking her queer/trans ancestry across bloodlines. vivalapepa.org/dona-pepa
Pedro Pablo (they/them) is a Venezuelan-raised, Minneapolis-based queer dancer / performance maker. Founder/director of Viva la Pepa (vivalapepa.org). VLP’s works are fueled by the overlapping values of Latinx and Queer cultures: melodrama, passion, decadence, and sensuality. An inaugural Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, Pedro continues a transnational collaboration with Argentinian choreographer Celia Argüello, spending time in natural landscapes researching the nature of the encounter. Pedro developed their recent work Contained, Alive as a U of MN Cowles visiting artist, in the Berkshires (MA), with Red Eye Theater, and through Candybox festival. Their previous work, Holy Doña, re-imagines the crucifixion as a queer performance ritual; they performed a preliminary iteration of this work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Pedro co-directs a children and family theater program Drag Story Hour, and entertains the adults at night as their draglesque persona Doña Pepa. Pedro is currently a teaching artist with Upstream Arts and with the Pillsbury House Theater.
Sending Out The Smoke For Future Fires: across the ether, 2021
This project includes an object and a letter —> 70 unique hand-made pieces + letters to the recipients
Additional Materials, optional: https://mnartists.walkerart.org/re-writing-for-the-walker-mn-artists
Julie Tolentino (Filipino-Salvadorean, she/they interchangeably) is an interdisciplinary artist invested in durational performance, installation, object-making, and texts. Her work has been shown at The New Museum, Aspen Art Museum, Nevada Art Museum, Thessaloniki Biennial, Performance Space New York, The Kitchen, Participant, Inc. (NY); Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions-LACE, Commonwealth and Council (Los Angeles); The Lab (San Francisco) amongst others.
She is the senior editor for the Provocations in The Drama Review (TDR) since 2012. Past collaborations include Visual AIDS Duets Book series with Kia LaBeija; Movements in Blue with the What Would An HIV Doula Do? Collective; and Safer Sex Handbook with Cynthia Madansky. Tolentino initiated and ran the Clit Club from 1990-2002.
Recent awards: Anonymous was a Woman and the Herb Alpert/UCROSS Residency Prize (2021); Queer|Art Sustained Artist Recognition (2020); Herb Alpert/MacDowell Fellowship, Foundation for Contemporary Art - Performance Grant (2019). Tolentino received her MFA as the University of California at Riverside’s Dean’s Distinguished Fellow in Experimental Choreography in 2020. Tolentino is the current 2021-2022 Scholar-in-Residence at NYU Steinhardt; the Alma Hawkins Chair in the World Arts & Cultures Department at UCLA, Winter 2022, and a 2022-2023 Queer|Art Mentor. Tolentino is an artist/maker/contributor with Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles.
Click here to read a series of articles in conjunction with Choreographers’ Evening 2021, curated by Valerie Oliveiro and edited by Emily Gastineau for MnArtists.
WALKER ART CENTER STAFF
Director and Senior Curator, Performing Arts – Philip Bither
Senior Program Officer, Performing Arts – Julie Voigt
Associate Curator, Performing Arts - Doug Benidt
Administrator & Curatorial Assistant, Performing Arts - Molly Hanse
Development Associate, Special Projects – Megan Dunn
Visitor Experience Specialist, Performing Arts – Rosa Raarup
Visitor Experience Specialist, Moving Image – Makenzie Flom
Visitor Experience Associates – Jazz Castañeda, Preston Dorsett, Michael C.F. Hansen, Lilly Knopf, and Deborah Meyer
Production Manager – Wyatt Heatherington Tilka
Lighting Designer/Supervisor – Jon Kirchhofer
Audio Supervisor – Douglas Livesay
Stage Supervisor – Aaron Robinson
Stage Manager – Garvin Jellison
Deckhand/Video Technician – Katie Deutsch
Deckhand/Artist Assistant – Ryan Ellingson
Deckhand/Assistant Stage Manager – Alexandra Whitman
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Thank you, Walker members, for your generous support.