World Series Dance

Edisa Weeks. Photo by Rebecca Fitton.

Year: 2018-2019
DanceForce Member: Paz Tanjuaquio
Artists: Guanglei Hui, Mina Nishimura, Nicky Paraiso, Edisa Weeks
Community Partners: LaMaMa Theater, NYC; NYU Skirball Center; Queens Museum of Art
Audience: 1,000
County: Queens

In FY2019, TOPAZ ARTS supported the creation of new works by diverse artists in “World Series Dance”. Four choreographers were invited for to participate in a residency at Topaz Arts, each receiving 50 hours of free rehearsal space to support the creative process & foster cultural exchange, allowing for experimentation, visibility & access to diverse audiences.

Guanglei Hui from Guangzhou, China, completed his dance residency time at TOPAZ ARTS during Aug-Sept 2019, with a final showing at Queens Museum. Hui in collaboration with Yahui Lu / HUI Dance House & Cross Move presented their new work “Star Tracks and Collapsar” developed during their residency at TOPAZ ARTS, presented at Queens Museum on Sept. 16, 2018.

Nicky Paraiso created a new collaborative dance-theatre work, “Now My Hand Is Ready for My Heart: Intimate Histories”, an evening-length production exploring how a generation of artists deal with aging, individually and collectively, with a cast of esteemed choreographer/performers, directed by MacArthur Genius Fellow John Jesurun. Nicky and his cast were in residence at TOPAZ ARTS in Jan-Feb 2019 to develop material towards the premiere of the work at LaMaMa Experimental Theater, Mar 22 – Apr 7, 2019.

Mina Nishimura, from Japan, had a month long residency with 50 hours of studio space at Topaz Arts in April 2019. Nishimura developed a new 40-minute solo work entitled “Hi, Merce! I Have a Question.” Commissioned by and presented at NYU Skirball Theater, May 3 – 4, 2019, as part of Merce Cunningham’s centennial celebration program – In Conversation with Merce. Mina shared, “I was very happy about my artistic achievement in the work. I believe the warm, intimate, supportive and creative atmosphere at Topaz Arts greatly contributed to the solo work, in which I deeply shared my personal experiences and feelings.”

Edisa Weeks, raised in Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Brooklyn, NY, is a choreographer, educator, and director of DELIRIOUS DANCES, which merges theater with dance to explore the beauty and complexity of life. TOPAZ ARTS presented a showing by DELIRIOUS Dances/Edisa Weeks on June 29, 2019, who shared the culmination of her month-long residency during June 2019. Working on a trilogy, THREE RITES: Liberty and THREE RITES: Happiness, the TOPAZ residency allowed Edisa to develop THREE RITES: Life – “which has been a concept stewing and percolating in my mind for four years,” Edisa shared. “LIFE is a durational work with subtle shifts in energy and actions, and I needed to know if it was a compelling and relevant concept for a viewing audience. I’m grateful for the Topaz residency as I got a lot accomplished, and was able to work with four dancers (Devin Oshiro, EmmaGrace Skove-Epes, J’nae Simmons, Noni Byrd-Gibbs) on developing the movement for Life. Being able to ‘beta-test’ Life with an audience and have a conversation afterwards was incredibly helpful! I received good and productive responses which will help me expand upon the work before it premieres in June 2020.”