A Collaboration Between the Art Museum and Performing Arts Center at UAlbany

Kris Seto. Photo by Joseph Imhauser

Year: 2021-2022
DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Artists: Michelle Y. Lee (visual artist) , Kris Seto (choreographer/dancer), Jayson P. Smith (dramaturg)
Community Partners: UAlbany Art Museum; UAlbany Performing Arts Center
Audience: 5,200
County: Albany

In 2015-16, the UAlbany Performing Arts Center and the University Art Museum, both located on the main campus of the University at Albany, jointly hosted visual artists/choreographers Gerard & Kelly in a NYS DanceForce sponsored residency that spanned two months and included lectures, workshops, performances and an exhibition. Based on its overwhelming success, the two hosts have been looking for an opportunity to collaborate again in a similar way.

The UAlbany entities are currently in discussion with choreographer/dancer Kris Seto of [VESSELS] and artist Michelle Y. Lee. Seto’s movement background includes traditional Thai & Chinese folk dances and hip-hop/street jazz with influences from contemporary forms including Gaga, Nadine Bommer’s Kinetica, Butoh and wiggling. Lee is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn. Her commissioned works for the University Art Museum are a memorial to the six Asian women killed in Atlanta in March and a protest against white supremacist violence and sexual fetishization. These works will be on display in the University Art Museum’s Well/Being: An Exhibition on Healing and Repair which explores topics of kinship, reparations, disability justice, chronic illness, convalescence, sleep deprivation, the emotional costs of caregiving and various incarnations of love and community. The group exhibit will run throughout the fall 2021 semester.

In connection to the exhibit, Seto and Lee are collaborating to create a series of workshops for college-age students and will focus on belonging, discovery and curiosity. Through various studies of movement, including Parcon Resilience, Cultural Somatics and Animato Dance Art, the duo’s aim will be to cultivate tools and spaces for approximately 100 participants to interrogate and shift their relationship to their own bodies as well as the collective.

In addition, Seto and Lee will work together to create a formal performance work around the question: “What does the weight of the model minority myth and our intersecting systems feel like on the body?” A solo for Seto created in the Museum over several months, the work will explore the interiority of survival, adaptability, susceptibility and resilience. The piece will follow a suited businessman set against the staircase of the gallery and bring together percussive body rhythms, sound, spoken text, movement and an imagined narrative. Audiences will witness unseen forces play up, down, and out — interrogating traditional notions of progress, success, value and power. The free performance will take place on a tbd date in November in front of an audience of approximately 100 people in the University Art Museum.

This project will be of significance to the artists as it will provide them the time and space in which to collaborate on a joint work whose themes are present in both of their individual works. Capital Region audiences will benefit by being afforded the opportunity to glimpse their collaborative process and its results.