American Realness

Sara Shelton Mann, Keith Hennessy & Norman Rutherford

Sara (the smuggler)

New York Premiere

Monday, January 11, 7:00pm
Tuesday, January 12: 7:00pm
Wednesday, January 13, 8:30pm

Run Time: 60 minutes

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

Single Tickets Festival Pass

Sara Shelton Mann has worked in dance for over fifty years, spending time in New York as a dancer for Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis before moving to San Francisco in where she was a founding member of the radical experimental dance-music-performance company Contraband from 1985-1994. Her work and life in dance have influenced generations of Bay Area artists.

A work about dance, history, lineage, friendship, healing, and love, Sara (the smuggler) is a solo by the legendary Sara Shelton Mann, created in collaboration with Keith Hennessy and composer Norman Rutherford. The work is inspired by Growing Up In Public, a performance by Lucas Hoving, choreographed by Remy Charlip in 1984.

Sara (the smuggler) was made possible with support from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and Theater Bay Area’s CA$H grant. Additional support from CounterPulse, ODC Dance Commons, and GFTA/SF Hotel Tax Fund.

Photo by Robbie Sweeny

Choreographer by Keith Hennessy
Performed by Sara Shelton Mann
Original Music and Sound Design by Norman Rutherford
Production Management by Alec White
Lighting Design by Grisel Torres

Sara Shelton Mann is a legendary dance artist who has played a significant role in shaping
contemporary dance performance and choreography. She is a protégé of Nikolais and Louis in NYC in the 60s, Sara is also deeply influenced by Contact Improvisation. From 1979-96 Sara directed Contraband, a ground-breaking troupe of artists working at the leading edges of contemporary dance, ritual, and music. She has received five Isadora Duncan Awards, a SFBG Goldie for Lifetime Achievement, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellow. Integrating chi cultivation and improvisation, Sara has taught dance in the Bay Area and internationally for over four decades. Sara has many years of study in various spiritual traditions, shamanic practices, and healing trainings. Her healing practice is deeply woven or embodied in her approaches to dancing, choreography, teaching, activism, writing, and community building.

Norman Rutherford has been creating music for works by Sara Shelton Mann for nearly 30-years. His first collaboration was in 1986 when he co-created the musical score for the first version of Contraband’s ground breaking piece Religare with Rinde Ekert, Gwen Jones, and Richard Klein. He then joined Contraband full time in 1989 to compose and direct the music for, and perform in, the 2nd version of Religare (also with Gwen Jones and Richard Klein), and all 3 pieces from the Mira Cycles. After Contraband disbanded in 1996, Norman worked with Anna Halprin, Bob Ernst, Keith Hennessy, and others, while continuing to create scores for Sara Shelton Mann and record with the instrumental group Closer To Carbon. Works by Sara that Norman has scored since the late 90’s include: Extravaganza, Monk at the Met, Monk, Lotus 695, Red Gold Sky, Tribes, and three of her recent solo works in the Eye of Leo series – The Love of Emptyness, C, and Future Life.

Keith Hennessy was born in northern Ontario, lives in San Francisco and tours internationally. His interdisciplinary research engages improvisation, ritual and public action as tools for investigating political realities. Hennessy directs CIRCO ZERO, and was a member of the collaborative performance companies: Contraband, CORE, and Cahin-caha, cirque bâtard. His recent solo Bear/Skin premiered at American Realness in NYC in Jan 2015 and toured the west coast and was shown at the zurichmoves! Festival in March 2015. 2013-14 teaching includes Ponderosa (Germany), Impulstanz (Vienna), AEx-Corps (Dakar), UBC (Kelowna), UC Davis, Texas Women’s University, HZT/Berlin, University of Performing Arts/Copenhagen, and La Alternativa (SF).

Hennessy directs Circo Zero, a laboratory for live performance that plays with genre and expectation. Rooted in dance, Hennessy’s work embodies a unique hybrid of performance art, music, visual and conceptual art, circus, and ritual. Keith has an MFA in Choreography and is a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at UC Davis. Despite narrowly surviving the last two waves of violent eviction and gentrification, and the forced

If dance lives in the bodies of the artists who perform it, then volumes of fascinating history reside in the limbs of Sara Shelton Mann… The title is a sly reference to the dance collective Contraband, which Mann founded in the 1980s and which disbanded in 1996. It’s not overstatement to say that Contraband, with its heady brew of art, politics, mysticism and activism, changed the landscape of modern dance theater, and Mann’s vision and energy were at the heart of it. “Sara (the Smuggler)” harnesses that same spirit.”
- Mary Ellen Hunt, SF Gate