American Realness

Juliana F. May

Folk Incest

Presented by Abrons Arts Center

Wednesday, January 9, 6:00pm
Thursday, January 10, 6:00pm
Friday, January 11, 6:00pm
Saturday, January 12, 6:00pm

42 minutes

Abrons Arts Center, Studio G05
466 Grand Street

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Folk Incest is an evening length work. Five women sit, stand, walk, and speak—interrogating the relevance of abstraction via seemingly unpresentable content including the holocaust, sexual trauma, and fetishization of young girls. They are simultaneously creating a rape colony in the woods with tiny gnome men made in petri dishes, listening to Joan Baez, watching John Waters’ film Cry Baby, and performing an anti-rape chant from a highway upstate. As various pop cultural references, genres, and bodily traumas compress into each other the work’s biting humor offers catharsis, simultaneously taking down and making a case for abstraction.

Juliana May researched, developed and honed Folk Incest with financial, administrative and residency support from the Dance in Process program at Gibney Dance with funds provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as a space grant from BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additionally, the development of Folk Incest was made possible in part by the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, and grants from the Jerome Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016. Folk Incest was created with support from the Abrons Arts Center through the Abrons AIRspace Residency Program, and individual support from our Leadership Circle donors including Amy Hass, Phoebe McBee, the McGue Millhiser Trust, Rachel Norton, Ory Slonim, Jackie and Victor Sprenger, and Sharon Teitlebaum.

Photo by Ian Douglas

Choreographed, Written, and Directed: Juliana F. May
Songs and Lyrics: Juliana F. May with text contributions by Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, Lucy Kaminsky, Molly Poerstel, Rebecca Wender
Performers: Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, Lucy Kaminsky, Molly Poerstel, and Rebecca Wender
Sound Design: Tatyana Tenenbaum
Lighting Design: Madeline Best
Costume Styling: Mariana Valencia
Dramaturgical Support: Ita Segev

A Guggenheim and NYFA Fellow, Juliana F. May (choreographer) has created nine works since 2002, including seven evening-length pieces with commissions from Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, The Chocolate Factory Theater, Barnard College, The New School and The American Realness Festival. May has been awarded grants and residencies through The Map Fund, The Jerome foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Gibney Dance In Process. May is the Artistic Advisor for New York Live Arts’ Fresh Tracks Residency Program as well as teaching composition at Sarah Lawrence College. May holds a BA in Dance and Art History from Oberlin College and an MFA in choreography from University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee.

Madeline Best (lighting designer) designs lighting and is the Director of Production at The Chocolate Factory Theater. Best graduated from Bennington College, grew up in Durham NC and currently lives in Long Island City, Queens. Recent design projects include work with the artists Paulina Olowska, Andrea Kleine, Anna Azrieli, Ursula Eagly, Heather Kravas, Katie Workum, Aki Sasamoto, Milka Djordjevich, Keely Garfield, Sophia Cleary and Neal Medlyn, Yve Laris Cohen. This fall includes projects with luciana achugar, Big Dance Theater, and Moriah Evans. Thanks to Jon, Davey, and Orson for all your support.

Leslie Cuyjet is a dance artist in and performer. She has collaborated with Kim Brandt, Yanira Castro/a canary torsi, Jane Comfort, David Gordon, Niall Noel Jones, Cynthia Oliver, Will Rawls, Julian Barnett, Stephanie Acosta, Vanessa Walters, NARCISSISTER, Sean Donovan and Sebastián Calderón Bentin, Emily Wexler, David Thomson, Mark Dendy, The A.O. Movement Collective, and now Juliana F. May. She has appeared in performances by Anohni, Meredith Monk, and Solange. Her independent work aims to unpack this personal archive that includes over a decade of performing across postmodern and experimental forms while black, using writing, video, and choreography. Cuyjet has been presented in New York by La MaMa (La MaMa Moves! Festival/The Current Sessions), Gibney Dance (DoublePlus), Center for Performance Research (Fall Movement), Movement Research (Fall Festival, Judson Church), AUNTS (Realness, Populous), and Danspace Draftworks. Leslie is a 2017-18 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence.

Tess Dworman (performer) is a Brooklyn-based choreographer and performer originally from Oak Park, IL. She studied at the Laban Centre in London and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Dance. In New York, her work has been presented by AUNTS, Center for Performance Research, Movement Research at the Judson Church, New York Live Arts, and PS122. She has been an artist in residence at Links Hall, Center for Performance Research, Gibney, PS122, LMCC, and Snug Harbor. Dworman has an ongoing teaching practice and collaboration with Laurel Atwell that operates under the moniker WellMan. Within this practice, Atwell and Dworman offer classes in qi gong and meditation as a means of integrating wellness with artistry. As a performer, Dworman has had the pleasure of performing in the work of niv Acosta, Laurel Atwell, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Kim Brandt, Yanira Castro, Moriah Evans, Devynn Emory, Julie Mayo, Sam Kim, Tere O’Connor, Marissa Perel, and Mariana Valencia.

Lucy Kaminsky (performer) is an actor and performer from Brooklyn. She has developed and performed several works with 600 Highwaymen (Abrons Art Center, The Public, Park Ave Armory, Sundance Theater Lab at MASS Moca, University Settlement). Upcoming work: three plays about labor, money and debt by McFeeley Sam Goodman, directed by Sarah Hughes, and the series All Long True American Stories by Nellie Tinder. Film & video credits include MGMT music video “When you Die”, The Law of Averages, Heads or Tails, Me and you and her and them, Please be Normal (2014 Cannes selection), Go Down Death (Indiewire top undistributed films of 2013), Chained for Life (2018 BAM cinemafest). Upcoming: The Plagiarists (2019) and Skosh (2019), a film she co-wrote with Ita Segev. Lucy graduated from Bard College with a BA in Environmental Studies.

Molly Poerstel (performer) is a dance artist who has collaborated with: Jeanine Durning (half URGE 2004, Out of the Kennel and into a home 2006, Ex-Memory:waywewere 2009, To: Being 2015), Roseanne Spradlin (Beginning of Something, Chocolate Factory, 2010), Ivy Baldwin (Ambient Cowboy, 2012),Susan Rethorst (208 East Broadway, DTW 2007), David Dorfman Dance Company (05-09), Larissa Velez-Jackson (Loving Overkill via Satellite 2009), Hilary Clark (Jeliza-Rose is with Us 2008). This is her first collaboration with Juliana May. Poerstel has taught at SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory, the Dalton School, The Nanyang Fine Arts Academy in Singapore and The Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School. She and was a 2015 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence and a 2018 BAX Parent Space Grant Recipient. Her choreographic works include: Are we a Fossil, and of facings (2016), Stolen Grounds (2014), The Highlands (2014), Hungry Ghost (2013) and Do Beast (2012).

Sarah A.O. Rosner (Managing Director) hustles maximalism. They are a multimedia performance maker (the A.O. Movement Collective), arts businessperson (A.O. PRO(+ductions)), and postmodern pornographer (AORTA films) making work out of Brooklyn, NY. They currently serve as a Managing Consultant for Tere O’Connor Dance and Company SBB / Stefanie Batten Bland and the Managing Director for Juliana May, as well as offering freelance arts business consulting for NYC’s makers. They have been featured as a speaker, educator, and panelist by Dance NYC, Kickstarter, Adobe, Gibney Dance, Dance Theater Workshop/New York Live Arts, CLASS CLASS CLASS, and Dance New Amsterdam, as well as Marymount Manhattan, Bard and Purchase Colleges. //

Ita Segev (Dramaturgical Support) makes performance, writes, performs/acts and does advocacy & community building work, mainly around the intersection of her transfeminine and anti-Zionist Israeli identities. Ita is a 2018/2019 Brooklyn Art Exchange Artist in Residence, a Fall 2017 BAX space grantee, a spring 2017 Chez Bushwick AIR and a 2016 NYLA Fresh tracks AIR with collaborator Georgia Wall. Her current evening length show in the making, titled ‘Knot in My Name’ is also supported by New York Theater Workshops Adelphi summer residency as well as Women & Performance, a Journal of feminist theory.

Tatyana Tenenbaum (Sound Design) is a choreographer and composer whose work explores the phenomenal space of the singing body. She is a 2017-18 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence where she is rotating faculty for “The Sounding Body” series. Her work has been presented by The Chocolate Factory Theater, Roulette Intermedium, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Studios for Dance and The Kitchen, among others. She has performed and collaborated with Yoshiko Chuma & the School of Hard Knocks, Daria Fain & Robert Kocik, Jennifer Monson, Levi Gonzalez, Emily Johnson/CATALYST, Hadar Ahuvia, and numerous peers. Upcoming visions are unfolding alongside choreographer Jasmine Hearn this Spring 2019, stay tuned. Thank you to Juliana for inviting me into your creative process.

Mariana Valencia (costume consultant) is a dance artist, in New York, she has received residencies from AUNTS, New York Live Arts, Chez Bushwick, ISSUE Project Room and Brooklyn Arts Eachange. Projects in costume direction include works by Geo Wyeth, Vanessa Anspaugh, Daria Fain, and Lauren Bakst. As a performer, Valencia has collaborated with Jules Gimbrone, Elizabeth Orr, Kate Brandt, AK Burns, robbinschilds, Fia Backstrom, Kim Brandt, Em Rooney and MPA. Valencia is a Bessie Award recipient for Outstanding “Breakthrough” Choreographer (2018), a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Award to Artists grant recipient (2018), a Jerome Travel and Study Grant fellow (2014-15) and a Movement Research GPS/Global Practice Sharing artist (2016/17). She is a founding member of the No Total reading group (2012-15) and a past co-editor of Movement Research’s Critical Correspondence (2016-17). She holds a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and is a native of Chicago.

Rebecca Wender (performer) is a dancer/performer based in Brooklyn. Her recent work includes many projects with luciana achugar, Antonio Ramos, and RoseAnne Spradlin. She has also worked with Rebecca Brooks, Martha Clarke, Juliette Mapp, Jennifer Monson, Sarah White-Ayon, and many others and was a featured dancer in John Turturro’s film Romance and Cigarettes. She is the former Managing Director of Movement Research and former Managing Editor of the Movement Research Performance Journal. Rebecca is also a massage therapist (

“Juliana May’s performances negotiate the complexities of trauma. Within the choreographies themselves, however, May often decentralizes trauma and catharsis instead of overtly addressing them; aggression simmers underneath the dance, occasionally surfacing before giving way to the work’s other occupations.”
– Rennie McDougall, The Brooklyn Rail

“It feels important to me to build structures and nonlinear sequences that confuse concrete events and move away from the idea of proof or evidence — to give more space to the unseeable and unspeakable.”
– Juliana May, The New York Times