Dance Heginbotham (Photo Credit Jamie Kraus)
Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America performing arts season of free, live performances continues with their Contemporary Dance series, four nights of New York City-based dance companies showcasing their work on the Bryant Park stage, curated by Tiffany Rea-Fisher. The series begins on June 8 with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with Robin Dunn and Friends and The Lite. On June 9, Dance Heginbotham presents work including Iversongs, which will feature a live accompaniment from jazz pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer Vincent Sperrazza, as well as Jennifer Muller/The Works paying tribute to their late founding Artistic Director, Jennifer Muller, who passed away earlier this year, and impressive student dance company Joffrey Ballet Concert Group. The June 15 performance features two rising stars in contemporary dance, Terk Lewis and Kayla Farrish. The series closes on June 16 with two extraordinary local percussive dance performers, with tap and more from Soles of Duende and Josh Johnson. Series curator Tiffany Rea-Fisher is the Executive Artistic Director of EMERGE125, a Black female-led hub for dance performance, creation, and education.
Attendees may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At all performances, attendees can discover new dishes and celebrate classics from the five boroughs with a rotating line-up of local artisanal vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. Stout NYC offers giant pretzels, gourmet popcorn and other light bites as well as a selection of beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages for purchase.
Robin Dunn and Friends + The Lite
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip hop
Robin Dunn describes Hip Hop dance as “the visual language of the streets, the movement response to rap music. It’s no nonsense, it’s in your face and makes you want to say WHAT!” Creative Director, Choreographer and F.A.C.E. Coach Robin Dunn brings to you a memorable celebration of Hip Hop dance in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. Dunn has worked with celebrity clients like Teen Vogue featuring Chris Brown, The Braxtons featuring Jay Z, Missy Elliot, U2 and Saturday Night Live. Robin is the former Director of Amateur Night at the world famous Apollo Theater. She and long-time friends Buddha Stretch and Mr. Wiggles made history in 1989 by being the first to introduce the art form of Hip Hop dance at New York’s Broadway Dance Center. What they have in common is their passion for Hip Hop dance and commitment to showcasing it with excellence. Their performance will include the creative contributions and choreography of Buddha Stretch, and Mr. Wiggles with special appearances by MOPTOP UNIVERSAL, Noahlot Gotit, Genex Crew of Brickhouse NYC under the direction of Kelly Peters, Angel Kaba/Afro’ Dance New York and dancer, teacher and choreographer Caleb Smith.
The Lite celebrates the movement, music, and heart of Harlem’s Litefeet movement. Originating from dance moves popularized via social media in the early 2000’s – including The Chicken Noodle Soup, The Tone Wop, and The Harlem Shake – Litefeet has since evolved into a regionally unique series of steps, styles, sounds, and vernacular language representing the real in uptown contemporary hip hop art. Today, the influence of Litefeet can be seen and heard in dance, rap and fashion on a worldwide scale. The Lite will showcase some of the culture’s top crews, DJs, emcees and dancers as they educate the Bryant Park audience on what it really means to “get lite.”
Dance Heginbotham + Jennifer Muller/The Works + Joffrey Ballet Concert Group
For their Bryant Park performance, Dance Heginbotham will be performing Iversongs (2023) and Closing Bell (2012). Iversongs (created especially for this performance) is a combination of two prior pieces, Easy Win and Dance Sonata, made in collaboration with jazz pianist and composer Ethan Iverson (founding member of The Bad Plus). For this performance, Iverson will be on hand to perform the pieces, alongside drummer Vincent Sperrazza. Closing Bell is performed to music by Tyondai Braxton, and it is the first piece that John Heginbotham created for Dance Heginbotham when he founded the company in 2012; the piece was recently revivied for the company’s 10th anniversary season. Dance Heginbotham (DH) is a New York-based contemporary dance company committed to supporting, producing, and sustaining the work of choreographer John Heginbotham. With an emphasis on collaboration, DH enriches national and international communities with its unique blend of inventive, thoughtful, and rigorous dance theater works. Founded in 2011, DH has shared the stage with artists such as Maira Kalman, Ethan Iverson, Colin Jacobsen, Joshua Bell, the National Symphony Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Brooklyn Rider, and The Knights. DH had its world premiere in 2012 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and has since been presented by Arts Brookfield, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carolina Performing Arts, Duke Performances, Harkness Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, The Joyce Theater, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Vail International Dance Festival, among others. In 2016, DH toured to Indonesia, Laos, and the Philippines as cultural ambassadors of the United States with DanceMotion USA.
Jennifer Muller/The Works (JMTW) has electrified world audiences with its passionate work and superb dancers across the world and produced 28 NYC Seasons at City Center, the Joyce, Cedar Lake, and New York Live Arts, among others. A byword for diversity since its inception in 1974, JMTW performs work that celebrates the human spirit with the belief that dance can promote cross-cultural understanding and act as a catalyst for positive change. JMTW presents exhilarating dances that showcase emotional authenticity and social consciousness. Devoted to mentoring creativity in all its forms, educating youth, and serving the community with vital outreach, JMTW’s education programs – Faces of Wonder, Imagine That! and HATCHPresenting Series – have reached thousands of New York City youth and have mentored 50 emerging choreographers annually. JMTW has developed numerous dance artists who have gone on to become directors and choreographers in their own right, including Ronald K. Brown, Young Soon Kim, Pascal Rekoert, Michael Jahoda, Maria Naidu, Leda Meredith, Lana Carroll, Mario Bermudez Gil, Ed Burgess, and Christopher Pilafian. Jennifer Muller / The Works is honored to return to the stage at Bryant Park. We dance in honor of our late founding Artistic Director, Jennifer Muller, who sadly passed away in late March. More information about a Celebration of Life – honoring Jennifer’s brilliance, artistry, spirit, and life’s achievements – will be released later this summer. For this performance, the company will perform excerpts from Attic (1993, choreographed by Jennifer Muller, set to music by Tracy Chapman) and Aria (2008, also choreographed by Muller, set to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).
Located in the heart of New York City, the Joffrey Ballet Center serves as a platform for some of the nation’s best young dancers to launch their professional careers. The Center is home to the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, founded by Robert Joffrey in 1981, as a pre-professional performing ensemble for young artists selected from the Joffrey Ballet School’s year-round Trainee Program. In the years since its inception, selected Trainees studied and performed some of the most celebrated classical and contemporary repertoire. This included the works of Gerald Arpino (Birthday Variations, Light Rain), Robert Battle (Battlefield), George Balanchine (Serenade), August Bournonville (La Ventana), Dwight Rohden (New Work), Africa Guzman (The Stolen Path), Omar Ramon DeJesus (Tip Toe..) and Lindsay Grymes (Falter Upward). The Joffrey Ballet Concert Group has toured domestically and internationally, providing dancers the experience necessary to confidently transition from student to professional. For this performance, Joffrey Ballet Concert Group will perform Random People With Beautiful Parts (2023, choreographed by Bradley Shelver) and Babel (2018, also choreographed by Shelver).
Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
Two rising stars in contemporary dance
Terk Lewis began his formal ballet training at the age of 17 with Tony Calucci at The Dance Extension in Columbus, OH. He then went on to earn his BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University. He then went on to join Eisenhower Dance Detroit where he performed in works by Laurie Eisenhower, Stephanie Pizzo, Eddy Ocampo, and Joel Hall. Lewis went on to join Complexions Contemporary Ballet under Artistic Directors Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson. While with the company for seven years he had the opportunity to perform works by both directors, as well as Jae Man Joo, William Forsyth and Marcelo Gomes. Lewis became an artist in residence with the company in 2017. Lewis went on to dance in Jesus Christ Superstar Live on NBC (Choreographed by Camille Brown) and perform in Peter Pan and Rock of Ages at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. Most recently, Lewis danced in the Lin-Manuel Miranda Feature Film In The Heights, at the Met Gala (Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler), and in the Musical Series Up Here on Hulu (Choreographed by Sonya Tayeh). As a choreographer, Lewis assisted Jae Man Joo while creating Circular for Ailey II and also assisted Jill Johnson on choreographing the opera Crossing that premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He has choreographed his own commissioned works for The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, The Steps Conservatory, The Joffrey Ballet School, Black Boys Dance Too (Presented by Bryant Park NYC), and Western Michigan University.
Kayla Farrish is a Black American Director merging dance-theater, filmmaking, narrative, and sound score. She captures ranging identity, the mythical dualities of history and present survival, and powerful dreaming lending to liberation. Her commissions include Gibney, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Danspace, Pepatian, Little Island, Harlem Stage, Blacklight Summit and beyond. Some works formed: Black Bodies Sonata, The New Frontier: My dear America, Sunny Side/Inside the Laughing Barrel, December 8th, Martyr’s Fiction, and others. She creates live works, films, site-specific/immersive, and collaborations. She recently shared Choir (Carrie Mae Weems Exhibition), To Dream A Lifetime (BlackLight), Roster with Melanie Charles, MIXTAPES with Alex MacKinnon and site-specific Broken Record (Little Island) with Brandon Coleman, and Rinsing and Harbor films. Presenting spaces include Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, Symphony Space, and National Sawdust, among receiving support from Watermill Center for the Arts, Armstrong Now, Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, Baryshnikov Arts Center, La Mama Theater, and others. She received the Sundance Uprise Grant for Emerging BIPOC Directors, Bessie Awards for NYLA’s Motherboard Suite and December 8th-Gibney, NY Times Top 2021 Dance Performances – Roster and Breakout Star. She is a recipient of the Harkness Promise Award for 2022. During 2022, she was a Rehearsal Director for Punchdrunk Sleep No More, and adjunct faculty for NYU Tisch Dance.
Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
A night featuring two of New York’s extraordinary percussive dance artists
A Brooklyn-born Puerto-Rican from New Haven, a Mexican Puerto-Rican Jew from the Lower East Side, and a Bengali Indian from Jersey walked on to the wooden floor and the rest? History. Bonded by their deep love of music, their crafts, and true connection, Soles of Duende is on a lifelong mission to elevate the joy and music of true collaboration across disciplines and the celebration of the forms they practice. Based in the sounds of Tap (Amanda Castro), Flamenco (Arielle Rosales) and Kathak (Brinda Guha), Soles of Duende’s fire is the spirit that lives within each of these women to celebrate their connection given their beautiful differences and to uplift the forms that made them.
Josh Johnson is a Harlem native, who tap-danced on the trains of New York City to pay for college at Penn State University. The New York Times and Reader’s Digest have covered his amazing story of hard work, persistence and positivity. Since Spring of 2012, Johnson has appeared in many Jazz Clubs of New York City, keeping in the tradition of the African American tap masters such as The Nicholas brothers, The Berry Brothers, the Original Hoofers and The Copasetics; and performing for audiences big and small. Johnson plays gigs anywhere from The Cotton Club to The Blue Note. From the Village Vanguard to the New Victory Theater and the world-famous Box Theater of Varieties in lower Manhattan. Johnson has been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and has made multiple appearances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He’s been a Red Carpet Correspondent on the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, and has been featured on Dancing with the Stars in an AT&T spotlight Performance. Johnson is a young man on a mission to inspire and delight audiences – both young and old. His story of persistence, hard work and positivity brings smiles, tears of happiness and encouragement to audiences all over the world.
Complete Line Listings
June 01 – New York City Opera: La Bohème
June 02 – Jazzmobile: The Steven Oquendo Latin Jazz Orchestra
June 08 – Contemporary Dance: Robin Dunn + The Lite
June 09 – Contemporary Dance: Dance Heginbotham + Jennifer Muller/The Works + Joffrey Concert Ballet Group
June 15 – Contemporary Dance: Terk Lewis + Kayla Farrish
June 16 – Contemporary Dance: Soles of Duende + Josh Johnson
June 23 – Emerging Music Festival: THUS LOVE, Psymon Spine, Katy Kirby
June 24 – Emerging Music Festival: Ky Vöss, Seramic, Miss Grit, Dead Tooth
June 30 – Jalopy Theatre: Michael Daves Quartet Ft. Tony Trischka, Yacouba Sissoko, Terrell King
July 07 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
July 14 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Tessa Lark + Michael Thurber
July 21 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Magos Herrera Ft. The Knights
July 28 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Champe-Soukous Collective
August 03 – Ailey Moves NYC: Ailey II
August 04 – Carnegie Hall Citywide: Ndlovu Youth Choir
August 11 – Joe’s Pub: Shaina Taub
August 18 – New York City Opera: The Barber of Seville
August 19 – New York City Opera: Alessandro Lora in Concert
August 25 – Accordions Around the World: Diana Burco, Suistamon Sähkö, Ragini Ensemble
August 26 – Roulette Intermedium: Immanuel Wilkins, 75 Dollar Bill, Ka Baird
September 01 – The Classical Theatre of Harlem: Langston in Harlem
September 07 – American Symphony Orchestra: American Expressions
September 08 – New York City Opera: Romeo and Juliet
September 09 – Drom: Gaye Su Akyol (U.S. Debut)
September 14 – Harlem Stage: 40th Anniversary Celebration
Follow Bryant Park
Location and Subway Directions:
Bryant Park is situated behind the New York Public Library in midtown Manhattan, between 40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Take the B, D, F, or M train to 42nd Street/Bryant Park; or, take the 7 train to 5th Avenue.
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