OZ Arts Nashville again plays host to Banning Bouldin and her Music City-based dance company New Dialect this Friday and Saturday in the world premiere of Souvenirs, a triptych of original contemporary dance works accompanied by live, original music by highly-regarded guest composers Lev “LJOVA” Zhurbin and Mikael Karlsson.
The acclaimed troupe is certainly paired with prodigious musical creators – Zhurbin has had commissions from Brooklyn Rider, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, City of London Sinfonia, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic while Karlsson’s commissions include works for The Norwegian Opera and Ballet, NDT 2, Ailey II, the Royal Swedish Opera and Ballet, and Cedar Lake Contemporary. The performances mark a return to the contemporary arts center following New Dialect’s inaugural performance in 2014 as part of OZ Arts’ TNT (Thursday Night Things) local spotlight series.
The 70-minute Souvenirs starts nightly at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online by clicking here for the appropriate page on the OZ Arts website. OZ Arts is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle. (Update at 4:30 p.m. on 3/31: Tickets are now sold out for Friday’s show while limited seats remain for Saturday’s performance.)
Souvenirs explores how our concept of personal identity is shaped by our trial-and-error attempts at intimacy, the near-mythical influence of childhood memories upon our adult lives, and the cultural constraints that are imposed us by society, according to its creators. (For a rehearsal clip scroll to the bottom of this page.)
The opening duet, EMIN, features Ana Maria Lucaciu and Bouldin as they carry on a whimsical and intricate conversation that exhibits their mutual interest and suspicion of one another, not unlike a childlike interaction, filled with investigation and boundary-testing. At times the dancers break from “performing” and engage in a vocal and gestural meta-dialogue about their performance, as though the work is not yet finished and they are creating the latter half as they perform it. The duet concludes as the lights fade to black and LJOVA’s live, multi-channeled fadolin composition swells to an impassioned frenzy before subduing into a consistent, lingering pulse.
Bouldin’s newest creation, Atlas Kid – an ensemble work for eight – took its initial inspiration from the principle of cold combustion as described in the introduction to “Atlas of Novel Tectonics,” an architectural design book by Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto:“Cold combustion suggests the slowing down of the unfolding of geometry that previously was either held in exquisite or frozen suspense or was subject to the instantaneous and uncontrolled unfolding that we know as explosion. Anyone who discovers a middle ground, a rhythm of unfolding that delivers the geometries of matter to the senses in real time…endows the world with novelty. It is the duty of architecture to deliver sensation.”
Atlas Kid builds on this principle of unfolding geometry and novelty to conjure up a dream-like world sculpted from the temperatures, textures, shapes and feelings of childhood memory. The raw material for the 30-minute work was derived from the personal memories of New Dialect’s dancers, the physicality of which Bouldin crafted into a movement language that embodies a full range of modes and tones, from kinetic frenzy to reluctant shyness. Using the playful habits of shadow making, mimicry and exaggeration, the dancers reimagine the traumatic and triumphant experiences that formed their perception of the adult world around them, a place where they are, in there reimaging, at once natives and foreigners.
The original score for Atlas Kid was composed by LJOVA and Karlsson, who will both perform the composition live onstage, as part of the choreography. Costumes for the piece were designed through a digital printing collaboration between visual artist Emily Clayton and Nashville’s local clothier Jamie + The Jones.
The final duet, Two Yous, choreographed by Peter Chu (founder of chuthis, 2010 Capezio A.C.E. Award for Choreography, current Repetitor for NDT 2) was born out of the cultural phenomenon known as “smile masking,” a psychological disorder resulting from prolonged, unnatural smiling in the workplace. The syndrome is particularly prevalent in Asian countries, where many service sector jobs require workers to wear perpetual smiles. Having spent so much time faking their smiles, syndrome sufferers become emotionally detached from their own physical responses, often smiling at inappropriate times. Two Yous plays out the inner dilemma of an aging woman, portrayed by both Bouldin and Lucaciu in a mirrored role, as she struggles against the pressure to perform and the desire to honestly embody her own emotions. The original score for Two Yous was composed by Chu’s longtime collaborator Djeff Houle (former member of Cirque du Soleil’s creation team).
About Banning Bouldin and New Dialect
Bouldin, a Nashville native who earned her BFA in dance from Juilliard in 2002, formed New Dialect in 2012. She established the company in response to Nashville’s need for a contemporary dance company capable of allowing dancers, students, teaching artists, choreographers and audiences the opportunity to explore a broad range of 21st century movement vocabularies. New Dialect consists of a main performance company, a research lab for visiting choreographers and a faculty of master teachers and artists from around the world. The collective offers daily classes in a variety of movement languages and performs regularly in theaters, galleries and public spaces.
Following her graduation from Juilliard, Bouldin spent eight years working internationally with a litany of renowned companies, choreographers and dancers including The Cullberg Ballet of Sweden, Mats Ek, Johan Inger, Hubbard Street 2, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Alexander Ekman, Buglisi/Foreman Dance, Wen Wei Wang. She was a soloist, master teacher, and rehearsal assistant during her tenure with Aszure Barton and Artists 2003-2010. In the past five years she has been commissioned to create work for the Nashville Ballet, Visceral Dance Chicago, Intersection, Springboard Danse Montreal and Northwest Dance Project.
After New Dialect’s debut at OZ Arts in 2014, the Nashville Scene named New Dialect Nashville’s Best New Dance Company, and Bouldin herself was named Best Dancer in 2015. Bouldin won the Tennessee Dance Association’s Margaret Martin Award for her outstanding contributions to dance in Tennessee. She has recently been nominated for a 2016 United States Artist Fellowship Award.
For more information about New Dialect, please visit NewDialect.org.
About OZ Arts Nashville
Since opening in 2014, OZ Arts Nashville, a 501(c)(3) contemporary arts center, has changed the cultural landscape of the city. Housed in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family, OZ Arts brings world-class performances and art installations to the city, and gives ambitious local artists opportunities to work on a grand scale. The flexible 10,000 square-foot, column-free venue, nestled amidst five acres of artfully landscaped grounds, is continually reconfigured to serve artists’ imaginations, and to challenge and inspire a diverse range of curious audiences.
OZ Arts, under the artistic leadership of Lauren Snelling, has presented luminaries such as Philip Glass and Tim Fain, Tim Robbins’ The Actors’ Gang, Kyle Abraham and Abraham.In.Motion, Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, the Trisha Brown Company, Vijay Iyer and Laurie Anderson. OZ Arts serves as a catalyst for local creativity through its TNT (Thursday Night Things) program, which fosters collaborations between Nashville-based artists from varying creative disciplines; and its newest series the Artists’ Lounge, which gives artists opportunities to develop work before a live audience, including fellow artists, in the venue’s intimate lounge space.
For more information, please visit OzArtsNashville.org.
*Photos featuring members of New Dialect by Hunter Armistead courtesy Oz Arts Nashville.