Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow Benedict Nguyen curates revolutionary new moon in aquarius (rnma), featuring Ambika Raina, Katrina Reid, and lily bo shapiro. The evening is their first program in soft bodies in hard places, a series of trans-disciplinary events circling planetary events over the 2019 season.
Two days before the new moon on February 4th, rnma stages blurry collaborations among artists in a shared evening of live performance. With the sun also in Aquarius, this potent moment can galvanize a new lunar year inspired by rigorous innovation and the swirling in of new cycles. With each bringing their own unique practices for making solo works, the artists consider new ways of working alongside each other in evolving, intertwined orbits.
Astrologer Stephanie George provides dramaturgical support to the artists. She notes: “Astrology uniquely allows us to hold space for contradictions. It suggests poetic possibilities can coexist with real world-weariness.” Raina, Reid, and shapiro draw from readings with George to consider how the themes of this new moon overlay with their practices. Writer and dancer Tara Sheena develops a piece of writing around the cultivation of “rnma to be published on Culturebot, a publication devoted to critical thought about experimental performance.
soft bodies in hard places considers how the methodology of reading astrological charts and tracking celestial motion at multiple scales can deepen the connections that live performance can facilitate among artists, collaborators, and audiences. The platform meets the spiritual and the empirical, sourcing energetic impulses from astrology in an attempt to synchronicity with moving bodies of performers, planets, and cosmic forces eclipsing the imagination.
At ISSUE’s location specifically, Boerum Place takes it street name from Dutch colonizers occupying Canarsee and Lenape land. Within this frame, what can moving within the patterns of the stars themselves do and how can we break cycles of gentrification and displacement?
Ambika Raina is a dancer and performance maker/director in New York City. She makes fantasies that flirt with pop sensibility and are rooted in an experimental foundation. Viscerally influenced by her Indian classical dance foundation, Ambika has a keen sense for detailed movement and musicality, storytelling with layers of accessibility, and choreography as a frame for experience. In NYC, Ambika has presented work – alway specific to the space it lives in – at Movement Research at the Judson Church, Center for Performance Research, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, NYU Tisch Dance, Westbeth, Brooklyn Studios for Dance, Triskelion Arts, and more.
Katrina Reid is a performing artist based in Queens, NY. She collaborates with a range of artists who are exploring performance at the center and edges of dance, theater, and ritual.
Born, raised, and still living in Lenape territory, lily bo shapiro’s curiosities include archive, diasporic living and dying, adaptive hybridity, the strangely intimate (intimately strange), and the labors of playing and loving on this planet with others. bo works at an ethic of ongoingness, togethering and care, approaching circulation and dissolve as antidotes to the monumentals. [For more information: @bo_archive_scraps, https://vimeo.com/lilyboshapiro]
Stephanie George is thrilled to be the Astrological Dramaturg for Benedict Nguyen’s soft bodies in hard places. In her practice, Stephanie is invested in traversing between the real and the unreal: the unknown, ancestral, primordial, gut-level, and emotional realm as it clashes with oppressive structures that shape our everyday lives. Astrology uniquely allows us to hold space for contradictions. It suggests poetic possibilities can coexist with real world-weariness. In soft bodies in hard places, she is excited to map, track, and trace artistic possibilities according to celestial movements to bring us closer to the ambitiously vulnerable and transcendent. With astrology as a compass to articulate what already is and what is unraveling, we can honor, open, and activate hearts. We can penetrate pretenses and performances from a place of radical softness. Those of us in the margins can begin again, uncovering love in the midst of trauma and nurturing tenderness in the midst of violence.
Tara Sheena is a performer, dancer, writer, and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. As a performer, she is engaged on upcoming projects with choreographers Ivy Baldwin, Catherine Galasso, Ursula Eagly and Nadia Tykulsker. Recently, she has been involved in the work of Lindsey Dietz Marchant, Beth Graczyk, and in the feature film Shirley, choreographed by Faye Driscoll and directed by Josephine Decker. As an arts writer, she has been obsessed with the ways capitalism, race, and performance intersect in dance spaces, what she refers to as “Capital-D Dance.” Her writing has been published in Hyperallergic, the Brooklyn Rail, Fjord Review, DIY Dancer, the Huffington Post, and Critical Correspondence. Her series, Between Walled Rooms, can be found on Culturebot and posits messy, poetic responses– not easily contained inside form or cohesion– to live performances by female and gender nonconforming dance artists. Originally from Detroit, Michigan, she graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011 with a BFA in Dance and BA in English.
Benedict Nguyen is a writer, dancer, and arts advocate based in the South Bronx, NY. Benedict has written for the Brooklyn Rail, Shondaland, The Establishment, Dance Magazine, and Rest for Resistance, among others. In 2017-18, they were a member of the National Center for Choreography (Akron, OH)’s low-res laboratory on dance writing. In their feature writing, they highlight the labor behind of artists’ processes and address questions of power and equity in the dance field at large. Their fiction writing was supported by an AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship in 2017. They’re revising a novel and generating short stories. Benedict has recently performed with TIN, DapperQ Fashion Week, Nick Mauss’ exhibition “Transmissions” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Monstah Black. They’re collaborating on new performance projects with Sally Silvers, José Rivera Jr., and Johnnie Cruise Mercer. Their own movement practice researches astrological somatics within their own sound design.