Bringing the Bessies Winner Upstate

Kyle Marshall Choreography.

Year: 2019-2020
DanceForce Member: Kim Engel
Artist: Kyle Marshall
Community Partners: The Egg, Albany; UAlbany Foundation & Auxiliary Services; UAlbany Office of Intercultural Student Engagement; UAlbany Performing Arts Center
Audience: 115
County: Albany

As part of the ongoing commitment of the NYS DanceForce to the annual Juried Bessie Award winner, DF member Kim Engel used a portion of her allocation to welcome Kyle Marshall and his company to Albany for a single performance as part of Dance in Albany, a joint series presented by The Egg and the UAlbany Performing Arts Center.
The engagement took place on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at UAlbany and was presented in that venue’s IN THE RAW format. Repertory for the performance was chosen by Kyle Marshall and included Colored (an established work) and Horizon (a developing work). IN THE RAW is a format for performance in a studio setting. It is intended to be more informal than a performance on a proscenium stage, giving the audience an up close and intimate experience with dance. Technical elements are purposefully and practically minimal; putting the focus of attention on the movement and choreography.

Kyle Marshall spoke to the audience before the performance began to give them context and background for the two works they were about to see. There was a post-performance reception in the theatre lounge and conversation between the artists and audience continued in an informal format.

This performance gave Capital Region audiences a close up look at an emerging choreographer whose work had yet to be presented in this area. It gave the choreographer and company a chance to expose their work to a new audience which hopefully proved helpful in giving them a sense of how it is received outside of New York City. The opportunities for dialogue during and after the performance again, hopefully, proved beneficial for both the artists and the audience.

Planning for the project took place directly between Kyle Marshall and Kim Engel. Promotion was jointly undertaken by the UAlbany Performing Arts Center and The Egg as they marketed the Dance in Albany series to Capital Region audiences.

About the performance opportunity, Kyle Marshall had this to say: “At UAlbany, we did a program of Colored and a new work in progress, Horizon. The audience was full and deeply engaged. I had many conversations with patrons after the show. Our discussions were rich and varied. They seemed to be moved by the ideas we are working with. I enjoyed being at University of Albany and would be happy to return in the future.”

Critical response to the performance was positive:

“Colored” explores expectations around black performers—how they will look, speak and move onstage. Marshall…deftly plays with these preconceptions and stereotypes to create something wholly unexpected and unpredictable. He takes movement vernacular from traditional Afro-Caribbean dance, dance hall and body percussion, and pushes it to someplace angular and edgy, self-referential and almost self-flagellating.” ~ Times Union

“While “Colored” is not the most damning work out there on the ills of racism, it shows that Marshall is moving the art of dance in an untried direction, adding depths and dimension to the style. And for that, he’s worth keeping an eye on.” ~ To the Pointe