American Realness

Milka Djordjevich & Chris Peck


Wednesday, January 13, 5:30pm
Thursday, January 14, 8:30pm
Friday, January 15, 10:00pm

Run Time: 60 minutes

Abrons Arts Center, Playhouse
466 Grand Street / Tickets $20

Single Tickets Festival Pass

In MASS three female dancers execute an interdependent score of movement and music choreographed by Milka Djordjevich and composed by Chris Peck. The women are a choir of image, action and voice. Hyper-objectified anonymous forms and three-part harmonies pulse and throb through the artifice of the theater. Performers oscillate between action and inaction, singing and dancing, chanting and swaying. They act as an engine that evolves through space and generates friction over time. MASS unveils the materiality of the moving and sonic female body, unraveling its inherent choreographed codes. Like a prayer, it proceeds without manipulation, loving the flaw.

MASS was commissioned by the Kitchen, NYC and developed at Abrons Art Center, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Swing Space, Pieter and PACT Zollverein, Essen Germany. MASS is a sponsored project of Show Box L.A. funded in part with generous support from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. MASS would not be possible without the generous support of the individual donors of our Kickstarter campaign.

Photo by Lisa Wahlander

Choreography by Milka Djordjevich
Music by Chris Peck
Performed by Jessica Cook, Kyli Kleven and Djordjevich
Lighting Design by Madeline Best
Scenic Design by Sara C. Walsh
Costumes by Naomi Luppescu
Performance Advisor Rebecca Brooks

Milka Djordjevich and Chris Peck began their collaborative relationship as co-curators of the Movement Research Spring Festival in 2008 with Anna Sperber and Jeff Larson. Discussions about music and dance that grew out of their work on the festival led directly to An Evening with Djordjevich and Peck at The Chocolate Factory Theater in 2009. After that, the duo performed as part of Live on 5 Songs at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, a series of events curated by artist Martin Kersels. Peck composed music for Djordjevich’s solo Kinetic Makeover in 2013.

Milka Djordjevich (Choreographer and Performer) is a choreographer, dancer and teacher living in Los Angeles. She started making work and living in NYC in 2003 and since 2011 has been working between California, Europe and NYC. Her work has been shown at several venues including the 2010 Whitney Biennal, the Chocolate Factory Theater, Danspace Project and AUNTS (New York); REDCAT, Pieter, Machine Project and Hammer Museum/REstore Westwood, Show Box L.A./Bootleg Theater (Los Angeles); Counterpulse and The Garage (San Francisco); Uferstudios (Berlin); Kondenz Festival and Bitef (Belgrade); Locomotion Festival (Skopje); Artdanthe (Paris); WUK (Vienna); Fabrik (Potsdam); Solo in Azione Festival (Milan); Toihaus Theatre (Salzburg); Gateshead International Festival of Theatre (UK). She has received funding from the Suitcase Fund; The Foundation for Contemporary Arts; The Center for Cultural Innovation; a commission from the Danspace Project 2010-11 Commissioning Initiative, with support from the Jerome Foundation; and residencies at Fabrik Potsdam, PACT-Zollverein, Workspace Brussels, UCLA Hothouse, LMCC Swing Space, among others. Djordjevich was a 2006-2007 Movement Research Artist-in-Residence and a 2008/2010 danceWEB Europe Scholar. Her other projects include serving as guest editor for Critical Correspondence and curating Monday Morning Class at Pieter in Los Angeles. In addition to her work with composer Chris Peck, she has collaborated with choreographer Dragana Bulut and has performed for Heather Kravas, Jennifer Monson, Elizabeth Ward, Sam Kim, Sasa Asentic and Ana Vujanovic, among others. She has also assisted choreographer DD Dorvillier in various capacities and has taught at the University of California, Riverside and Irvine, Pomona College and Movement Research. Djordjevich received a B.A. from UCLA and an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College.

Chris Peck (Composer) is a composer, computer musician, and improviser who often collaborates with contemporary dance and theater artists, including David Dorfman, John Jasperse, RoseAnne Spradlin, Jeanine Durning, Mark Jarecki, Abby Yager, Ming Yang/Dance Forum Taipei, and Beth Gill. Peck performs as an improviser and multi-instrumentalist with Crystal Mooncone along with Jon Moniaci and Stephen Rush. The trio has toured widely since 2006, with performances at CCRMA (Stanford), the Center for New Music in San Francisco, and Spectrum in NYC. Peck collaborated with Deke Weaver and Jennifer Allen on Land of Plenty in 2008-2010, and made music for two installments of Weaver’s Unreliable Bestiary: Elephant in 2010-11 (performing in the premiere at the Stock Pavilion in Urbana, IL as well as subsequent iterations at the Sundance Film Festival and Salt Lake Arts Center) and Wolf in 2013. In addition to his work with Djordjevich, Chris is currently working on several projects with Brussels-based choreographer Eleanor Bauer, including a recently premiered commission for the “This Is Not A Pop Song” project of the Belgian new music ensemble Ictus. He completed a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia in May 2015.

Jessica Cook (Performer) is a Brooklyn based artist by way of Durham, North Carolina. After graduating from the Dance Conservatory at SUNY Purchase (2005) she appeared in the works of Noemie Lafrance, Hilary Easton & Company, & Gallim Dance (among others). Jessica has collaborated with artists in and involved with AUNTS, Movement Research and Roulette Intermedium. Performing in the works of Jessica Ray, Christine Elmo, Steven Reker, Eagle Ager and Milka Djorjevich, she grew into a more improvisational performance niche in her own sculpture / costume based work. Her most recent performances include Kim Brandt’s Landscaping, Collective Settlement’s God’s Eye [St. Marks Church], Noopur Singha’s Stigma Scripture [Judson Memorial], an AUNTS artist-led tour at the New Museum, a number of solo compositions / installations and ongoing collaborations with Matthew Mehlan as UUMANS having been performed at such venues as Clocktower Gallery, Trans Pecos, Secret Project Robot, and the Mixology Festival (2015). Jessica is currently a Licensed Massage Therapist / Practitioner working out of the Maha Rose Healing Center.

Kyli Kleven (Performer) is a Brooklyn-based artist. She has had the good fortune of collaborating with and/or performing in the work of Jillian Peña, Ryan McNamara, Kim Brandt, Philippe Parreno, Jennifer Allen, Deke Weaver, Jennifer Monson, Tere O’Connor, Kirstie Simson, The Bureau for the Future of Choreography, Jen Rosenblit, Marissa Perel, luciana achugar, and Tess Dworman. As a member of Stephen West’s Westknits Fun Squad, she had the weird experience of appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Cosmopolitan, and newspapers and magazines around the world. She studied ballet at The Virginia School of the Arts, and Dance and Gender Studies at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was a 2008 DanceWEB scholar at ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival. She started life in Alaska.

Madeline Best (Lighting Design) designs dances, lighting and video and is the production manager at The Chocolate Factory Theater. Best graduated from Bennington College, grew up in Durham NC and currently lives in Long Island City, Queens. She has designed lights for Neal Medlyn, Liz Santoro, Heather Kravas, Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith, Keely Garfield, Milka Djordjevich, Aki Sasamoto, Beth Gill, RoseAnne Spradlin, Luciana Achugar’s PURO DESEO (Bessie award winning), and more. Performance experience includes work on The Chocolate Factory Theater’s Resident Projects Selective Memory and HotBox with Brian Rogers; multiple projects with Lauren Petty/Shaun Irons and with Choreographer Juliana May/MayDance.

Sara C Walsh (Scenic Design) Previous other designs include: Get Mad at Sin! with Andrew Dinwiddie and Jeff Larson (The Chocolate Factory, The San Diego Museum of Art), Confidence Man with the Woodshed Collective, Faye Driscoll’s You’re Me (The Kitchen, UCLA, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston), There Is So Much Mad in Me (Dance Theatre Workshop) and 837 Venice Blvd.(HERE Arts Center – Bessie Award Winner). She was Head of Design for Queen of the Night. This year Sara will be designing and performing in The Kioskers as part of puppet lab at St.Ann’s Warehouse, a suitcase band show of astounding proportions. Written by Scott Adkins, directed by Meghan Finn with music by the sublime Alaina Ferris.

Naomi Luppescu (Costume Designer) received her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase in 2004 after which she danced professionally while studying fashion design at FIT and at the Danish Design School in Copenhagen. She always felt a great need for costumes that were better suited for the moving body, hence started NaLu Designs, a company specializing in costumes for dance. Naomi has worked with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Parsons Dance, Alvin Ailey II, LeeSaar the Company, Kate Skarpetowska, Loni Landon Dance Projects, Emery LeCrone, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Murray Spalding Mandalas, among others. She is delighted to be working with Milka Djordjevich on this project.

Rebecca Brooks (Performance Advisor) is an independent dance artist and teacher. Her performance works have been presented by Danspace Project, NADA New York, Roulette, and many other spaces. She works as Performance Advisor with both Heather Kravas and Milka Djordjevich. As a performer she has worked with Marina Abramović, luciana achugar, Walter Dundervill, Maria Hassabi, Susan Rethorst, robbinschilds, and others. Faculty, Movement Research & Balance Arts Center; Co-founder, AUNTS; Co-curator, MR Festival Fall 2014 & MR Festival Spring 2007; Artistic Director, Rockbridge Artist Exchange (2009-2013).

“Materials—the body, sound—merge exquisitely in this hourlong dance-song (song-dance?) … the song unravels into something wild, then plain, bodies as they are.”
– Siobhan Burke, The New York Times

“Choreographer Milka Djordjevich and musician Chris Peck have successfully created a rich, multi-faceted collaboration. Peck’s sophisticated sound contextualizes each of Djordjevich’s movement choices, both elements taking their time to mature through the 60 minutes of the piece…The elements of this collaboration are strong enough to stand on their own, and yet they exist in a highly considered equilibrium with one another.”
- Cassie Peterson, The Brooklyn Rail