Season Preview: Chocolate Factory, Abrons Arts Center & The Kitchen

The Chocolate Factory: The Chocolate Factory, in my mind, occupies a special place on the arts landscape. It’s situated comfortably between spaces that exist “to give artists a chance to present their work” and ones that are “choosy–so audiences don’t have to be.” In other words, it’s a middle-ground–the programming is thoughtful and choice, but always leaning toward risk-taking artists, giving them new chances to expand and, yes, fail. Sometimes. But that’s important work, and that’s why their season is always worth looking at carefully.

Choreographer Heather Olson kicks off the season with Shy Showoff (Sept. 21-24), a work that promises to explore the tension between the internal emotional state and the external appearance. Interestingly, along with dancers Levi Gonzales and Erin Gerken, it’s performed by Olson herself six months pregnant, adding a nice little extra element to the piece. Next comes Chocolate Factory artistic director Brian Rogers, with a work-in-progress (and invitation only) showing of Hot Box (Oct. 4-5), the follow up to his successful performance-installation Selective Memory last year. The piece will officially debut in the winter.

Other highlights include Lyndsay Karr’s multimedia interactive work all the way (Oct. 19-22), which implicates the audience in the processes it explores; the official debut of Marýa Wethers and Daria Faïn’s TARGET::furnace (Nov. 2-5), a movement piece borrowing from the martial arts tradition to develop a distinctive movement vocabulary; and Peter Jacobs/the Assistant Theater with SAND (Nov. 30-Dec. 10). Also, the Chocolate Factory is co-presenting Chase Granoff’s new work with Abrons, and as always plays host to Sarah Maxfield’s THROW series.

Fitzgerald & Stapleton's "The Smell of Want"Abrons Arts Center: First up this season, the Lower East Side performance space will play host to our pals Fitzgerald & Stapleton, the often challenging, sometimes bewildering Irish anti-performance dance company responsible for The Work The Work last year at the Chocolate Factory. This year, dancer-choreographers Aine Stapleton and Emma Fitzgerald are generating a new piece called The Smell of Want (Oct. 3-8). We’ll have more on it later.

Additionally, Abrons will be host again to a new production from the New York City Players, Dreamless Land (Nov. 1-20), written and directed by Julia Jarcho, which does seem to be stepping rather far beyond what I always assumed the company was (namely, a vehicle for Richard Maxwell’s work, but I suppose I was wrong). In November, Abrons will also play host to three commissions as part of Performa 11, which we’ll have more on shortly. Otherwise, Abrons is hosting its usual yearly shows, including the immensely popular Steampunk Haunted House in October. See their website for more details.

The Kitchen: The Kitchen is 40 this year, and the season this fall has a bunch of great stuff in it. The amazing Maria Hassabi will be presenting Show (Nov. 3-5), a new installation-performance work. Hassabi’s work is painstakingly patient and demanding, and this will be one not to miss. Kyle Abraham will be presenting his new piece, Live! The Realest MC (Dec. 8-10), which he’s workshopping while on tour in Portland this month. In terms of theatrical presentations, the Kitchen will play host to LA performance group A.Bandit, comprised of conceptual artist Glen Kaino and magician Derek DelGaudio, for the mixed-media work Experiments from the [Space] Between (Oct. 5-6). And the performance season kicks off with Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey’s TOOL IS LOOT (Sept. 22-Oct. 1). The piece looks really good–Cardona and Lacey spent a year working on the piece apart (US and France, respectively), each week presenting their work to a non-dance person for scrutiny. The resulting duet bears witness to what they loose by opening themselves, as artists, up to the world, and then what they gain. I really like this concept.

Otherwise, the Kitchen offers a cool line-up of other sorts of events. Technically the season kicks off with a retrospective of 40 years of downtown avant-garde music (Sept. 9-10). The International Contemporary Ensemble also have an appearance (Oct. 20-21)–don’t forget BAC’s presentations of the ICElabs if you’re interested in ICE. And the really cool thing is, the entire season kicks off with a free block party on Saturday, Sept. 17!

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