Season Preview: Danspace Project, PS122 & FIAF’s Crossing the Line Fest

Brazilian artist Michel Groisman, part of PS 122's fall line-up.

FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival: In September, the French Institute Alliance Française‘s Cross the Line Festival kicks off, featuring literary, music, art, and performance from nos amis across the pond. The entire line-up is online, so I’m going to concentrate on the big performance events. First up is polymath choreographer Xavier Le Roy, with two pieces two days in a row. On Monday, Sept. 19 brings us More Mouvements für Lachenmann, Le Roy’s deconstruction of a chamber opera, by choreographing movement onto the musicians. As odd as it does sound, I’ve seen artists work wonders by taking musicians out of their comfort zones–Heiner Goebbels’s Songs of Wars I Have Seen is one of my top 10 performances, and I expect Le Roy could be just as compelling. Then on Tuesday, Sept. 20, he follows it up with Product of Circumstances, a lecture-performance on his transition from molecular biologist to choreographer. The lecture-performance is, likewise, a promising if odd and under-utilized form. But hey–it’s Xavier Le Roy. The guy can apparently do, like, anything.

Performance-lecture is, in fact, one of the curatorial programs FIAF built into Crossing the Line, and Le Roy finds himself in good company. Similarly diverse choreographer/performer Ralph Lemon offers up A Paradance: The inherent protest and émigré nature of performance (and how it could belong nowhere) (Oct. 6), the title being pretty much all we have to go on; Gérald Kurdian brings us 1999 (Oct. 12), an installation/musical composition based on the British sci-fi series 1999; and Jos Houben gives us the Art of Laughter (Sept. 27), an explanation of what’s funny. That last one I’ve heard tons of praise of, so be sure to check it out.

Performance Space 122: Poor PS 122 has begun its homeless period while the actual PS 122 is being renovated, so this fall they’re only presenting two shows, one of which–choreographer Cuqui Jerez’s The Rehearsal (Oct. 12-15, at the Performing Garage)–is co-presented with Crossing the Line. There’s an old Polish expression that roughly translated is, “The lights go down, and the world disappears,” referring to the experience of being in a theater. The Rehearsal, it appears, is roughly working the opposite way. Jerez uses your average studio rehearsal process to re-engage the audience with the experience of a dance performance. And before that, Brazilian artist Michel Groisman is bringing a variety of pieces to the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn (Sept. 21-25). Groisman’s work, often featuring body-based sculptural elements, is all about exploring the limits of the human body. Just check out the pic–how can you miss this?

Anyway, if that feels a wee bit sparse, don’t worry–the line-up for the 2012 COIL Festival in January is already up, and it’s amazing: Young Jean Lee‘s Untitled Feminist Multimedia Technology Show, The TEAM‘s Mission Drift, which has been killing in Edinburgh, Temporary Distortion‘s Newyorkland, Every House Has a Door‘s long-delayed Let us think of these things always. Let us speak of them never, and a re-staging of Heather Kravas’s fantastic The Green Surround, which we reviewed last spring. So just hold tight. And head over to defile Gawker’s rooftop on Sept. 13 for their season launch party, where you can get epically debauched all up in Nick Denton’s shit with downtown’s finest performance folk.

Ruth Zaporah. Photo by Kate Russell.

Danspace Project: Much like the good folk at PS 122, Danspace Project is also co-producing a show that’s part of Crossing the Line, so let’s kick off from there. It’s Sept. 22-24, it’s by Kimberly Bartosik, and it’s called I Like Penises: A Little Something in 24 Acts. I assume the title alone is intriguing enough to sell tickets.

Other stand-outs in the season include new works by the aforementioned Heather Kravass (with Jeremy Wade; Oct. 6-8) , the marvelous Tere O’Conner (with Cover Boy, Dec. 8-15), and Culturebot’s own Maura Donahue (with Vanessa Anspaugh; Oct. 13-15). On top of that, Danspace is also co-presenting with Performa 11, with a series of duets from Jonathon Burrows and Matteo Fargion (Nov. 3-5).

And then there’s a pair of very special one-night-only pieces: Ruth Zaporah, one of the founders of Action Theater (Oct. 27), and Deborah Hay (Dec. 17), the both of them icons of presence-based performance.

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