Two Residency Weeks at Mount Tremper Arts and Danspace Project Premiere

Souleymane Badolo Photo by Ian Douglas
Souleymane Badolo
Photo by Ian Douglas

Year: 2013-2014
DanceForce Member: Judy Hussie-Taylor
Artists: Souleymane Badolo, Rebecca Brooks
Community Partner: Mount Tremper Arts
Audience: 586
Counties: New York, Ulster

Danspace Project (DSP)’s Choreographic Center Without Walls was launched in 2010 to investigate and implement fresh ideas in commissioning, curation, and presentation, including the active development of partnerships for residencies and other exchange activities. As part of our Choreographic Center Without Walls (CW²) activities over the 2013-2014 season, DSP partnered with fellow DanceForce member Mount Tremper Arts (MTA) to provide artists Souleymane Badolo and Rebecca Brooks with creative residency time in advance of commissioned presentations at DSP.
DSP began a residency partnership with MTA in 2012, which has supported a variety of emerging and mid-career dance artists with crucial developmental time over the past several performance seasons. Mt. Tremper is a multi-arts, artist-run organization based in Ulster County, within the Catskill Park, which supports contemporary artists in the creation and presentation of new work through year-round residency opportunities and its Summer Festival presentations.

Continuing our previous partnership, DSP arranged a weeklong residency for Souleymane Badolo over July 30-August 4 as part of MTA’s 2013 summer festival. Badolo was the recipient of the Bessies Juried Award in 2012 for his wide investigations of dance traditions, including West African dance, in a spirit of improvisation and experimentation. As part of this residency, Badolo showed his works Buudou, BADOO, BADOLO and Barack on Saturday, August 3rd (2013) to an audience of 85. Both pieces draw heavily from Badolo’s family history and personal experience: Buudou, BADOO, BADOLO explored his family’s historic migration, while Barack is meant as a celebration and giving of thanks to the many individuals who have supported him in his time in the United States. A local audience from the Catskill Park area benefited from these performances, including a visiting group of teens from Hudson, NY.

While in residence at MTA, Badolo began work on his latest piece, Benon, which premiered at DSP in a three-night performance run over February 13-15, 2014. Translated roughly as “harvest,” Benon was inspired by the Burkinabé tradition of dancing to celebrate the harvest, and included solo and duet work with dancer/choreographer Charmaine Warren. The piece is particularly concerned with how our culture uses and abuses plastic. Badolo writes: “Plastic affects everything. It affects life, nature, the climate and our ability to harvest, but at the same time, it is important to us because we use it to make clothes or cover things, for example. I want to bring attention to our actions.” An audience of 226 attended over the performance’s three evenings.

A second residency week was offered to emerging artist Rebecca Brooks in fall 2013, in advance of a shared evening presentation of her work Still Left on This Rock in DSP’s spring 2014 season. The intensive residency time provided crucial late-stage time and space to culminate a long working process between Brooks and her collaborators, dancer/choreographers Emily Wexler and Ursula Eagly. Brooks and her collaborators cited the limestone caverns of Virginia and the cathedral-like caves of Myanmar as landscapes which inspired their formal explorations of loss and timelessness. Their residency at MTA continued a working process focused on sensory integration exercises, giving weight and deep presence to their performances at DSP. An audience of 275 attended Brooks’ premiere over April 10-12th, 2014.

Our project reached a wide-ranging and diverse audience across seven presentations, including the local Catskill Park community and DSP’s audience of NYC-based dance practitioners, artists, and art followers. DSP’s work with Badolo coincided with several other DanceForce projects in partnership with the Bessie Awards, extending the reach through our shared support across several New York State communities. Similarly, by providing a residency as well as a commission, DSP’s work with Rebecca Brooks continued our decades-long commitment to supporting emerging artists, which has offered an important milestone in the careers of many young choreographers.