Bringing the Bessies Winner Upstate to the Capital Region

Passion Fruit Dance Company.

Year: 2023-2024
DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Partnering DanceForce Member: Toni Smith
Artist: Tatian Desardouin
Community Partners: The Egg, Albany; UAlbany Foundation & Auxiliary Services; UAlbany Office of Intercultural Student Engagement
Audience: 250
County: Albany

This project proudly serves the NYS DanceForce’s initiative to support the annual Juried Bessie Award winner. The UAlbany Performing Arts Center will host Passion Fruit Dance Company in a creative residency in the fall of 2023 which will include a public performance. Composed of Tatiana Desardouin (Haitian), Lauriane Ogay (Swiss) and Mai Lê Hô (French-Vietnamese), the company’s mission is to promote the authenticity of street dance and clubbing styles, Hip Hop and house cultures and their Black heritage, as well as its contribution to society. The company explores the human experience, addresses social issues and thrives to inspire young people to share their voices.

As part of The Egg and UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Dance in Albany series, the company will perform on the UAlbany stage on Saturday, November 4, 2023 to an estimated audience of 250-300 patrons. In a 65-minute program entitled Dance Within Your Dance, the artists will invite the audience to embrace the techniques, rhythms and essence of hip-hop and house dance. The work shows how, in these communities, artists develop, struggle, connect and create their own and collective signatures. A post-show Q&A will draw the audience in to have a conversation about race. Using “an introspective seed” – a tool designed by Tatiana Desardouin to start contemplative anti-racist work – the three artists will share their perspective as well as their motivation and process to do socially engaged art projects.

Following the performance, the artists will have four to five days of access to UAlbany’s stage for creative time. From conversation with the artists, it is understood that they have a deep desire for rehearsal time to develop a new work which will premiere in June 2024. Taking into consideration their needs, the UAlbany Performing Arts Center is happy to host the artists for this additional time.

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center staff is excited about these artists as they are a young and up-and-coming company. Their work is grounded in hip hop, street and club dance which is only occasionally presented on our stages with the most recent time being 2019. Its style also lends diversity to the Dance in Albany series which in the coming season will include modern and tap. The group’s work addresses racial and social issues which builds upon similar programming that has been presented recently in the venue but through other artistic disciplines. The artists are highly regarded as seen through recent accolades, one of which is Tatiana being named the 2022 Juried Bessie Award which “recognizes a choreographer who exhibits some of the most interesting and exciting ideas in dance in New York City today, and whose work deserves to be seen more outside the city.” In their short life, the company has already performed at prestigious venues including The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, Jacob’s Pillow, BAAD!, Lincoln Center and the Guggenheim Museum.