Ishmael Houston-Jones & Miguel Gutierrez with Nick Hallett and Jennifer Monson
Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd
Co-Presented by Danspace Project and Gibney Dance
2017 NEW YORK DANCE AND PERFORMANCE “BESSIE” AWARD
Tuesday, January 9, 8:00pm
Thursday, January 11, 7:00pm
Friday, January 12, 7:00pm
Saturday, January 13, 3:00pm & 7:00pm
Run Time: 70 minutes
Danspace Project, 131 East 10th Street, Manhattan
Advance Tickets $22 / Danspace Project Members $15 / Door Tickets $25
Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes From a Life and Other Works by John Bernd is a re-construction and re-imagining of the work by choreographer John Bernd. Bernd was a pivotal figure in the 1980’s downtown NYC dance scene who made several semi-autobiographical solos and ensemble pieces. Bernd was one of the first artists in that community to be diagnosed with HIV (before the virus had even been named). Throughout his life he created a significant body of interdisciplinary work dealing with themes of mortality, spirituality and queer intimacy right up until his death at 35 in 1988 from AIDS complications. In this piece, conceived by Ishmael Houston-Jones, who danced in all three of Bernd’s series Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life, and co-directed by Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, excerpts from the last seven pieces that Bernd made are re-configured to create a new vision of his work that captures the vitality of his vision, demonstrates how his influence lives in work we see today, and serves a blueprint for what his work might have become. Bernd’s original music compositions are reimagined and enhanced by composer Nick Hallett. With consultation by Jennifer Monson.
Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes From a Life and Other Works by John Bernd premiered at Danspace Project in 2016 as part of Platform 2016: Lost & Found.
Performances of Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd for American Realness 2018 are made possible with support from Danspace Project and Gibney Dance.
The creation of Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd was made possible, in part, by the Danspace Project 2016-2017 Commissioning Initiative and a Production Residency, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and by Lambent Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the James E. Robison Foundation and an Emergency Grant from Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Additional residency support was provided by the New York State DanceForce in partnership with Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, with support from the New York State Council on the Arts.
Photo by Ian Douglas
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Conceived by Ishmael Houston-Jones
Co-directed by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez
Choreography by John Bernd
Text by John Bernd
Music Compositions by John Bernd, arranged and re-mixed by Nick Hallett
Consultation by Jennifer Monson
Lights by Carol Mullins
Drawings by John Bernd
Video Design by Alvaro Gonzalez
Performed by Tony Carlson, Talya Epstein, Alvaro Gonzalez, Charles Gowin, Madison Krekel, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and Alex Rodabaugh
John Bernd (1953-1988), one of the first persons with AIDS in the Downtown Dance scene, was a “Bessie” Award-winning choreographer, performer, and “ethical guiding light.” He performed his work at PS 122, Danspace Project and Dance Theater Workshop. He died in New York on August 28, 1988 of AIDS-related complications, at the age of 35.
Ishmael Houston-Jones is a curator, author, choreographer, and teacher. He was the curator for Platform 2012: Parallels and Platform 2016: Lost and Found, and curates the DraftWork series, both at Danspace Project. He has received three New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Awards, as well as Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Doris Duke, and Herb Alpert Awards.
Nick Hallett is a composer, vocalist, and cultural producer. His work has recently been presented by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, The Kitchen, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Public Theater / Joe’s Pub, among others.
Jennifer Monson met John Bernd in 1982 when he was taking part in an exhibit of performance artists at Sarah Lawrence College curated by Tony Whitfield. She danced with John until his death, performing in PS 122 Benefits, Be Good to Me (1985) and Two on The Loose (1988).
Miguel Gutierrez, a 2016 Doris Duke Artists, lives in Brooklyn and makes performances, music and poetry. His recently created a commission for Ballet de Lorraine in France. His next project, This Bridge Called My Ass, premieres in late 2018. He runs Gibney Dance Center’s LANDING, an educational and mentoring initiative. www.miguelgutierrez.org
“The dancers performing at Danspace Project over the weekend were too young to have known John Bernd, the choreographer whose work they were interpreting. Yet in “Variations on Themes From Lost and Found: Scenes From a Life and Other Works by John Bernd,” which opened on Thursday, they seemed to be communing with the spirit of an old friend, coaxing him into the room, so that everyone there could know him…. With the choreographer Miguel Gutierrez and the composer Nick Hallett, Mr. Houston-Jones, who danced with Mr. Bernd in the ’80s, has woven material from seven of Mr. Bernd’s pieces, created during the last six years of his life, into a fresh, funny and profoundly poignant new work for seven dancers. The collaborators, who also included the choreographer Jennifer Monson and the lighting designer Carol Mullins, treat Mr. Bernd’s legacy lovingly but not too preciously, imparting a roughness that suggests it could keep evolving forever.”
-Siobhan Burke, The New York Times