The Encounter

Year: 2020-2021
DanceForce Member: Margaret Kaiser
Artist: Kimberly Bartosik
Community Partner: Torn Space Theatre
Audience: 375
County: Erie

DanceForce member Margaret Kaiser, in collaboration with Torn Space Theater(TST), proposes a two week residency in Buffalo for choreographer Kimberly Bartosik to create a performance which uses high school students originally from the Congo, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Puerto Rico, among other places, to explore “an encounter with and connection to one’s body, history, memories, each other, the palpability of time passing, and immediacy of being alive.” The first week (five days in April) of the residency Kimberly will engage students in physical and imagistic exercises that encourage an authentic encounter with the world in which they presently live which is filled with moments of transitions from homelands left behind to real time decision-making as teenagers living in and adapting to a new culture, to the lived experience of moving from childhood into adolescence. The intention of the movement engagement experiences is to give young people agency in decision-making as manifested through their own bodies. The first week will end with auditions for a community performance. The second week (five days in May) Kimberly will be focused on rehearsals with the young dancers and on the technical design for the culminating performance with support from Dan Shanahan, Melissa Meola, and TST designers. An open rehearsal will be provided for the families of the student dancers the evening before the community performance.

“The Encounter” will be offered as part of TST’s Response Festival, this time including a new collaboration with teachers and administrators at Lafayette International High School, a school where 50% of the student population is Spanish speaking and 50% of student population speaks languages from countries around the globe as recently resettled refugees. The targeted population will be representative of dance groups at the school including, but not limited to, traditional Congolese and South African dance as well as a mixed group of K-poppers. This will be the first time a public performance at TST’s Response Festival will feature a diverse cast of young, aspiring dancers. It is estimated the performance could reach an estimated 300 audience members. As one student who recently attended a one day workshop with Kimberly, as initiated by Melissa Meola, Lafayette HS Language Arts teacher and TST Associate Director shared, “This is something that everyone should experience. It provided me a space where I could move freely and think.” This residency will break new ground in WNY by providing an opportunity for young dancers to work with an established New York choreographer, as well as being featured in TST’s international Response Festival.