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Still of the Production Speak Boldly: The Julius Eastman Dance Project

in collaboration with the Zafraan Ensemble

2018, 7 Dancers

Taking the history of minimal music and contemporary dance into due account, Christoph Winkler translates three of Eastman’s pieces – "Gay Guerilla", "The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc" und "Femenine" – together with international guests into a choreography that concentrates on the rhythmic qualities and political objectives of Eastman’s music. What inspirations could dance have drawn from Eastman’s work if it had become part of the musical canon?

About the Piece

The project is a musical-choreographic exploration of the works of Afro-American composer Julius Eastman, who passed away in 1990. The project takes into special account the broader history of minimal music and contemporary dance. It expands the spectrum of the established canon of minimal art dance pieces inspired by music and adds to it a new, previously little-heard voice.

In the process, it brings together more than 20 artists from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.

J. Eastman, born 1940 in Ithaca, New York, was one of those multi-talents rarely found in music history. He was a musician, composer, singer and dancer. He began piano lessons as a young child and soon later also started dance training. He had a remarkably deep singing voice. Very soon, his talents began to cause a stir and consequently he worked with acclaimed artists such as Morton Feldman, Piere Boulez, Meredith Monk and Arthur Russel. His compositions were enthusiastically performed and received in the USA and Europe. However, as an openly gay Afro-American in an art form dominated by whites, he never quite managed to really become part of the minimal music community. In the end, he died lonely and homeless, after a long bout of substance abuse. Most of his compositions were also lost in the process. Thanks to various reconstructions in recent years, his work has been rediscovered and is finally receiving due international recognition.

This project attempts to render three of Eastman’s pieces – Gay Guerilla, The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc and Femenine – with international guests into choreography that concentrates on the rhythmic qualities and political objectives of Eastman’s music. The starting point is the hypothetical question: What if Eastman’s music had become part of the musical canon? What inspirations could dance have drawn from his work?

All pieces are performed live by the renowned Zafraan Ensemble.

Credits

Artistic Direction: Christoph Winkler | By and with: Aloaii Tapu, Jahra 'Rager' Wasasala, Karima Amrani, Lois Alexander, Lisa Rykena, Zen Jefferson, Christofer Medina  | Co-Choreography for Feminine: Zen Jefferson | Music: Zafraan Ensemble & Guests | Arrangement: Clemens Hund-Göschel | Production Management: Laura Biagioni | Light Design, Technical Direction: Claes Schwennen | Stage Design: Valentina Primavera | Costume Design: Raki Fernandez

A production by Company Christoph Winkler. Funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds, the Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa und the Augstein-Stiftung. Media partner: taz. die tageszeitung

 

Dates