Works & Process at the Guggenheim Dance Commission Preview: Les Ballet Afrik and Ephrat Asherie Dance
Where: Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Ave. (at 89th St.)
212-423-3500 Price: Tickets: $45, $40 members
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In 2020, Works & Process will commission and premiere two works, one each by Les Ballet Afrik and Ephrat Asherie Dance. At this Works & Process, excerpts are performed from both commissions and legendary dancer Archie Burnett will moderate the discussion with choreographers Ephrat Asherie and Omari Wiles.
Having received the honorary status of Legend after ten years of competing in the Vogue Ballroom scene and performing across the globe, choreographer Omari Wiles brings the ballroom to the Peter B. Lewis Theater at the Guggenheim with excerpts of New York is Burning (March 2020 premiere), performed by Les Ballet Afrik and guest artists.
In 1990, the documentary Paris is Burning was released to critical acclaim. The film chronicled New York City Drag Balls, Ball culture, and Voguing in the 1980s, capturing the elaborately structured Ball competitions and showcasing rival houses. Beyond the Ballroom, each house served as surrogate families for young Ball-walkers who faced rejection from their biological families for their gender expression and sexual orientation. The Voguing that took place at these Balls has entered mainstream culture in the years since, serving as a touch point for a multi-leveled exploration of a queer African-American and Latino subculture.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary and to pay homage to Paris is Burning, Omari Wiles, founding father of the House of Oricci, in March 29 and 30 will premiere New York is Burning, a Works & Process commission made in and for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed theater at the Guggenheim. Performed by his company, Les Ballet Afrik, New York is Burning will bring the Ballroom to the Guggenheim and feature Wiles’s AfrikFusion, a style that fuses traditional African dances and Afrobeat styles with House dance and Vogue.
Excerpts from Ephrat Asherie’s UnderScored (fall 2020 premiere) are performed by EAD company members with guest artists from New York City’s underground dance community. Blurring the lines between performance and living archive and beginning with the legendary parties at The Loft and the Paradise Garage, UnderScored is inspired by intergenerational club-life memories and explores the ever-changing physical and musical landscape of New York City’s underground dance scene.
OMARI WILES was born in Senegal, West Africa. His passion for dance and the arts grew over many years of watching his mother and father Olukośe Wiles and Marie Basse Wiles dance and play the drums. His parents are the founders of the Maimouna Keita School of African Dance in New York City. Omari has trained with Ron K Brown, Assane Konte, Ephrat Asherie, The House of Mizrahi and Marie Basse-Wiles. Over the years he has trained in Contemporary, Vogue, Hip-Hop, West African, and House dance. Omari has performed with Rashaad Newsome, John Legend, Gargon City, Wunmi, Gala, The Maimouna Keita Dance company, Ephrat Asherie Dance, Forces and most recently choreographed and performed with recording artist Jidenna at the MTV Video Music Awards. Omari loves to cook, act, and travel during his free time, and feels deeply committed to his role as a teacher in the community. Constantly looking to expand his knowledge of African-rooted dance forms, he has found his-own voice by creating “AfrikFusion” a style that fuses traditional African dances and Afrobeat styles with House dance and Vogue. Omari Wiles received the status of Legend after 10 years of competing in the Vogue Ballroom scene in NYC.
EPHRAT “BOUNCE” ASHERIE (Artistic Director/Choreographer/Dancer) is a New York City-based b-girl, dancer, and choreographer and a 2016 Bessie Award Winner for Innovative Achievement in Dance. Asherie has received numerous awards to support her work including Dance Magazine‘s Inaugural Harkness Promise Award, a Jacob’s Pillow Fellowship at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, and a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study grant. In 2017, she received a National Dance Project award to support the development and touring of her most recent work, Odeon. Asherie is a 2019 NYFA Fellow and a 2018-2019 City Center Choreography Fellow. Her new work UnderScored was awarded a 2019 Creation and Development Award from the National Performance Network and will premiere at Works & Process at the Guggenheim in the fall of 2020 with residency support from the Lumberyard and the Pocantico Center. She is honored to have been mentored by Richard Santiago (aka Break Easy) and to have worked and collaborated with Dorrance Dance, Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, David Parsons, Gus Solomons Jr., and Buddha Stretch, among others. Asherie has created work for various University dance programs, including Lehman College, Smith College, SUNY Brockport and the University of California Santa Barbara. She earned her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Italian and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she researched the vernacular jazz dance roots of contemporary street and club dances. Asherie is a co-founding member of the all-female house dance collective MAWU and is forever grateful to NYC’s underground dance community for inspiring her to pursue a life as an artist. For more information, please visit ephratasheriedance.com or follow EAD on Instagram @ephratasheriedance.
Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD) is a dance company rooted in street and social dance. Dedicated to revealing the inherent complexities of these forms, EAD explores the expansive narrative qualities of various street and club styles including breaking, hip hop, house and vogue, as a means to tell stories, develop innovative imagery, and find new modes of expression. EAD’s first evening-length work, A Single Ride, earned two Bessie nominations in 2013 for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer and Outstanding Sound Design by Marty Beller. The company has presented work at The Apollo Theater, Columbia College, Dixon Place, FiraTarrega, Guggenheim Works & Process, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, La MaMa, River to River Festival, New York Live Arts, Summerstage, and The Yard, among others.
Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Described by The New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process,” for 35 years, New Yorkers have been able to see, hear, and meet the most acclaimed artists in the world, in an intimate setting unlike any other. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers. Most performances take place in the Guggenheim’s intimate Frank Lloyd Wright-designed 273-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater. In 2017, Works & Process established a new residency and commissioning program, inviting artists to create new works, made in and for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. worksandprocess.org.