The Encounter

Year: 2021-2022
DanceForce Member: Margaret Kaiser
Artist: Kimberly Bartosik
Community Partners: Niagara Falls Central School District; Torn Space Theatre
Audience: 375
Counties: Erie, Niagara

“The Encounter” by prolific choreographer and artistic developer Kimberly Bartosik will be presented as a featured work for the Torn Space Theater (TST) RESPONSE FESTIVAL in the spring of 2022.

A former Merce Cunningham dancer and awardee of significant international residencies and choreography commissions, Kimberly will create a new work which will include young, aspiring dancers from Lafayette High School (LHS), Buffalo City School District’s international school. This new piece, supported through the partnership of TST and the NYS DanceForce, will be the culmination of a two-week residency project with LHS students, many of whom comprise Buffalo’s recently settled refugee population. The students selected to perform with Kimberly are from self-selected dance groups in the school who have maintained the movement traditions of their homelands (i.e. the Congo, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Puerto Rico).

Kimberly will spend the first week (five days in the fall 2021) engaging students in physical and imagistic exercises to explore “an encounter with and connection to one’s body, history, memories, each other, the palpability of time passing, and the immediacy of being alive.” The intention of the movement engagement experiences is to give young people agency in decision-making as they are living in and adapting to a new culture and to the lived experience of moving from childhood into adolescence. The first week will end with an audition from which the cast of dancers for “The Encounter” will be selected.

In addition, theater students from Niagara Falls High School (NFHS) will participate in a movement engagement master class with Kimberly sometime that same week, which will be videotaped along with an interview following the class. An edited version of the master class and interview will be produced by NFHS media students and broadcast on the district’s cable TV station OSC (Our School’s Channel) for the entire Niagara Falls community. This production will also be shared with LHS dancers as an introduction to their peers who will be attending the open rehearsal at TST in the spring.

The second week (five days, Spring 2022) will be focused on rehearsals, which will occur at LHS the first 3 days and then at TST the last 2 days. The TST rehearsals will include support from directors Dan Shanahan and Melissa Meola and TST designers. An open rehearsal at TST will be provided for NFHS theater student workshop participants and the families of the LHS dancers prior to the public performance at TST.

It is estimated that the audience could reach an estimated 375, with an additional outreach of hundreds from the NF community tuned into the OSC cable broadcast. Marketing will be provided by TST flyers and website postings, as well as by the NFSCD website, which will enhance our ability to analyze audience reactions and viewing metrics. OSC will rerun the workshop/interview video with performance information included. “The Encounter” represents the third collaboration between TST and the NYSDF as a featured offering of the highly regarded RESPONSE FESTIVAL.