Dance New Amsterdam (DNA), NYC's foremost progressive dance education and performance center, announces a one-of-a-kind opener to the organization's DNA PRESENTS 2011-2012 Season. Black Moon (La Lune Noir) Act I, presented by collaborating artists Monstah Black and Major Scurlock, fuses a score of Afrobeat and house music with spoken word from Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, and significant poems by Langston Hughes and Albert Giraud. The world premiere of this eclectic seven-scene African-American theatrical adventure dives into topics of what it means to be a black artist during a special time of American history with the nation's first black president. The two-night premiere takes place September 15-16, 8:00 p.m.
Three corresponding events provide patrons the opportunity to learn about and discuss the development and history behind the operetta. An interactive visual art installation The Anatomy of Black Moon, created by Monstah Black, will be on display in DNA's Gallery space starting September 8, 2011, with an opening reception at 7:00 p.m., sponsored by Jerry's Café, and panel discussion following. The panel America's Black Arts Movement will feature the following panelists: Matthew Morrison Ph.D., a music educator at Princeton University and Vassar College; Jason King Ph.D., Artistic Director of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University; Pamela Sneed, author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery; and Michael Dinwiddie, Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University. A post-performance talkback, moderated by Matthew Morrison, will take place on Friday, September 16, 2011, in DNA's 130-seat theater.
"Having the opportunity to work with DNA and Major to bring to pass the world premiere of this unique electro funk opera directly inspired by Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, which has its centennial celebration approaching in 2012, has been an out-of-this-world experience," says Monstah Black. "My work aims to evoke positive and negative feelings as well as humor and sensuality, while the movement requires muscular, emotional, spiritual and vocal exertion. Everything seemed to collide with the creation of this evening work and I hope audiences will experience a sense of sympathy and endearment for Pierrot's character while recognizing personal similarities to the choices we make."
Multidisciplinary artist Monstah Black has choreographed for nightclubs, art galleries, black boxes and warehouses throughout Washington D.C., New York City and Europe. Black also toured internationally with The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Maida Withers Dance Construction and Grisha Coleman's Echo::System. Receiving generous support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for his one-man show entitled The Acid Box Cabaret, Black toured along the East Coast. Following his one-man show he began to create ensembles incorporating musicians and exotic dancers, fusing rock and roll, funk and glam with dance and visual art, which lead to the funk apocalyptic spectacle Delicious Hunger, Hunger Delicious. His work has been seen at The National Theater, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center, Blackout Arts Collective, Muse Dance Theater, Rowan University Dancers, Edgeworks Dance Theater, Jane Franklin and Dancers, Topaz Arts, Dixon Place, Movement Research and Nicholas Leichter Dance. Monstah was a recipient of a Dance Theater Workshop Studio Residency, where he debuted his dance company Motion Sickness alongside his band The Sonic Leroy. He studied choreography/performance at Virginia Commonwealth University and holds an M.F.A. in New Media Art and Performance.
"Resident artists Monstah and Major are a perfect example of DNA's vision to commission and present artists who display artistic professionalism and intellectual exploration. The melding of these two artists shows how collaboration can result in art that is challenging and provocative," says Catherine Peila, Executive and Artistic Director at DNA. "By presenting Black Moon (La Lune Noir) as the first of many performances this season, DNA is proudly continuing to support innovative programming that include discussions, workshops and gallery exhibits which encourage the intersection of community and practice as well as free expression."
The original Pierrot Lunaire score utilizes German expressionism, using music to illustrate the emotional context of the score. In Black Moon (La Lune Noir) Act I, Major Scurlock uses elements of twelve-tone row, a system created later in Schoenberg's career, which utilizes arbitrary and abstract systems of notes to make clear motives. These elements give the listener a way to understand musically what may be absent melodically. Scurlock's mix of text, paraphrasing, and use of the tone row arrange the work into a one-of-a-kind jazz/afro-funk modern fusion.
"I feel a kinship with Schoenberg, whose work was informed by astrology. I seek to create music with a careful attention to composition - simple melodies, harmonic structures, proper idioms to tell a story and how the movement is identifiable to the audience," says Major Scurlock. "Working with artists like Monstah and organizations like DNA allow me to embody the work and create music compositions that can make an impact in the arts community and education sectors."
Major A. Scurlock is an artist of unique talent and drive. Classically trained and a Juilliard graduate, his piano playing is both powerful and commanding, with elements of true lyricism. Born in Washington D.C. and raised in New York City, Major has cultivated a personal sensibility as a pianist and composer that has set his work apart from others. Having been a member of Juilliard's Music Advancement Program Piano Faculty for the past ten years, his additional studies have included the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara and the International Piano Festival in Israel, as well as a variety of master classes around the world. As a composer, Major has had his works performed nationally with great acclaim and has worked with various choreographers including Hope Boykin and Desmond Richardson. He has appeared at The Blue Note, AlIce Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Aaron Davis Hall and The Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharpe Theater. As a producer/curator, he has produced a series of concerts with several artists including Living Colour, Vijay Iyer, Imani Uzuri and Barry Harris. Major has collaborated with various vocalists such as Marlon Saunders, Alvin Crawford, Monstah Black and The Sonic Leroy, and Martha Wash. Major has strong belief in giving back to the community and has been highly active in New York City's arts education scene. He was recently awarded a New York Congressional Honor for his services in Arts Education.
TICKETS and PERFORMANCE TIMES
Performances take place Thursday and Friday at 8:00 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in person at DNA's box office during regular business hours or by visiting www.dnadance.org. Ticket prices for performances are $17 for general audiences, $12 for DNA members and $14 for students/seniors unless stated otherwise. $12 advance sales are also available. To arrange discounted tickets for groups of six or more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. All sales are final.
BLACK MOON (La Lune Noir) Act I - World Premiere - September 15-16, 8:00 p.m.
Choreographer: Monstah Black
Performed by: Monstah Black and Motion Sickness dancers Kendra Ross, Adaku Utah, Sunder Ashni, DeeArah Wright, Sasha Van't Hul, with special guest Ashley Brockington
Composer and Music Director: Major Andres Scurlock
Music performed by: Major Scurlock, Monstah Black (vocalist), Karma Mayet Johnson and musicians from The Sonic Leroy
Video and Lighting Design: Holly Daggers
Costumes: Monstah Black in collaboration with Motion Sickness
Black Moon is an interdisciplinary/multimedia cabaret operetta based on Arnold Schoenberg's melodrama Pierrot Lunaire, rewritten from an African-American male perspective and musically re-imagined through popular genres such as Afrobeat and house. The work is an electric experience both visually and sonically.
Black Moon (La Lune Noir) was funded, in part, through Meet The Composer's MetLife Creative Connections Program.
Gallery Exhibit: The Anatomy of Black Moon - September 8 - October 2
Curator: Monstah Black
Submerged in Blue is an art installation in DNA's second floor gallery that takes viewers behind the scenes of the creation of Black Moon (La Lune Noir) Act I. The exhibit will highlight the history of black artists through images of black face and visual interpretations of race. Additionally, the exhibit will portray the inspiration and performance aesthetic of Monstah Black's movement vocabulary.
DNA's Gallery Hours are 9:00am - 10:00pm, Monday - Sunday. There is no charge for admission to the exhibit.
Panel: America's Black Arts Movement - September 8 - 7:30 p.m.
Panelists: Matthew Morrison, Ph.D. and music faculty at Princeton University and Vassar College, Jason King, Ph.D. and Artistic Director of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University, Pamela Sneed, author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, and Michael Dinwiddie, Professor of Cultural Studies at New York University.
This panel will explore elements of the arts community with an emphasis on the music industry. A short comparison between the arts community during the civil rights movement, the black arts movement of the 1960s and 70s and modern-day black arts as a result of a black president in office.
About Dance New Amsterdam
Founded in 1984, Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) celebrates 27 years of cultural leadership in contemporary dance. DNA supports the life, career and longevity of dance artists through ongoing high quality contemporary dance education, opportunities for choreographic exploration and innovative performance, and servIce To the Lower Manhattan community. DNA fosters the development of new and experimental artistic works through artist commissions, residencies and subsidized rehearsal space. We are committed to training healthy dancers, developing new audiences and bridging diverse communities by exploring the role of dance across a spectrum of contemporary dance styles and cultures.
DNA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and its 2011-2012 programming is made possible through the generosity of its supporters. As of August 2011, private funding provided by: Bloomberg Philanthropies; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; FJC, a Foundation of Philanthropic Funds; and Meet The Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program. In-kind support from: Arts & Business Council, Fox Rothschild LLP, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and Materials for the Arts. Additional support provided by our individual program sponsors, artistic partners, business partners, and DNA's community of individual donors. For a full list of DNA's partnerships, visit www.dnadance.org.