American Realness

Tere O’Connor


New York Premiere

FRI JAN 9, 7:00 PM
SUN JAN 11, 4:00 PM

Run time: 35 minutes

466 Grand Street / tickets $20

Single Tickets Festival Pass

Sister re-embraces an idea first developed by O’Connor in his work Four Sister Dances that premiered at The Kitchen in 1989.   “I tried to escape the omnipresence of theme and variation in dance by immersing myself in what I call ‘variation and variation.’  I looked to sisters as a metaphor for duplication, sameness, and difference. I was attempting to validate a different idea regarding ‘development’ in a dance, one that didn’t offer an anchoring point.“  In Sister, hyper-intricate rhythmic systems provide the chatter between the performers as they are propelled into an increasingly mysterious cascade of events.

Sister was commissioned by the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois and is the third work in Tere O’Connor’s BLEED project. BLEED was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Campus Research Board and the Creative Research Board in the School of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University; and Big Tree Productions, Inc.

Photo by Grant Halverson

Choreographed by Tere O’Connor
Performed by Cynthia Oliver, David Thomson
Music Collage created by O’Connor
Excerpts from Dialogues des Carmelites by Francis Poulenc, Pierr Dervaux , Choeurs du Theatre National de L’Opera de Paris; Liquid Liquid; Manson family opera, John Moran
Costumes by Susan Becker
Lighting Design by Michael O’Connor

Tere O’Connor is Artistic Director of Tere O’Connor Dance. He has created over 40 works for his company and toured these throughout the US, Europe, South America and Canada. He has created numerous commissioned works for other dance companies, including the Lyon Opera Ballet, White Oak Dance Project and solo works for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Jean Butler. O’Connor received a 2013 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, is a 2009 United States Artist Rockefeller Fellow, and a 1993 Guggenheim Fellow among numerous other grants and awards. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts/National Dance Project, The MAP Fund, and many others. He has received three “BESSIES”, New York Dance and Performance Awards. In October 2014, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. An articulate and provocative educator, O’Connor has taught at festivals and universities around the globe for 25 years. He is a Center for Advanced Studies Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he lives for one semester each year. O’Connor is an active participant in the New York dance community mentoring young artists, teaching, writing, and volunteering in various capacities. BLEED, premiered at BAM’s Next Wave festival in Dec 2013 and continues on a tour in the United States with fall/winter stops at On the Boards in Seattle, The Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis and a week of encore performances of BLEED at Danspace Project in New York City. O’Connor is presenting two works at the American Realness Festival, Sister and undersweet.

Cynthia Oliver grew up in the US Virgin Islands. She has danced with many companies including the David Gordon/Pick Up Performance Company, Ronald Kevin Brown/EVIDENCE, and Bebe Miller. In the black avant garde theatre world, she has performed in numerous works including plays by Laurie Carlos and Ntozake Shange. Her own work, a mélange of dance, theatre and the spoken word, incorporates the textures of Caribbean performance with African, and American sensibilities. Named “Outstanding Young Choreographer” by reviewer Frank Werner in German Magazine Ballet Tanz early in her career, Cynthia has since received numerous grants and awards including a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie), two Illinois Arts Council Choreography Fellowships, a Creative Capital award, a Rockefeller Multi-Arts Production grant, a CalArts Alpert Award nomination, and a University Scholar Award from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is Professor of Dance. Cynthia holds a PhD in performance studies from New York University and is the author of Queen of the Virgins: Pageantry and Black Womanhood in the Caribbean. She is thrilled and honored to be dancing with Tere.

David Thomson has worked as a collaborative artist in the fields of music, dance, theater and performance with such artists as Mel Wong, Jane Comfort, Bebe Miller (’83-’86; ’03-’06), Remy Charlip, Trisha Brown (‘87-‘93), Susan Rethorst, David Roussève, Ralph Lemon (‘99-present), Muna Tseng, Sekou Sundiata, Meg Stuart, Dean Moss/Layla Ali, Alain Buffard, Deborah Hay, and Marina Abramovic,́ among many others. He was a founding member of the Drama Desk nominated a capella performance group, Hot Mouth. His own work has been presented by The Kitchen, Danspace Project at St Mark’s Church, Dance Theater Workshop, Roulette, and Movement Research at Judson Church. Thomson has been Artist-in-Residence at Dance Theater Workshop, Movement Research, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Gibney Dance Center, and at LMCC Governors Island. Thomson was honored with a Bessie for Sustained Achievement (2001) and as part of the creative team for Bebe Miller’s Landing/Place (2006). He is a 2012 USA Ford Fellow, a 2013 NYFA Fellow in Choreography and a 2014 MacDowell Fellow. Thomson has served on the faculties of NYU/Experimental Theater Wing, Sarah Lawrence, The New School and Movement Research. An ongoing advocate for dance and the empowerment of artists, he was one of the founding members of Dancer’s Forum and has served on the boards of Bebe Miller/Gotham Dance, Dance Theater Workshop and currently New York Live Arts. He holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies from SUNY Purchase. Thank you Tere for this beautiful opportunity!

Michael O’Connor (Lighting Designer) Has been working with Tere for over fifteen years. His recent work in dance includes: Oxbow (BAM), Blue Room (NYLA), The Turn (City Center), Hurry (Danspace and PAC Dublin), In and Out (Danspace), Noctu (Irish Rep). His recent work in theater includes: Douglas Carter Beane’s Fairycakes (Lester Martin), While Chasing the Fantastic (AADA), Last Days of Cleopatra (Urban Stages), Mary Poppins (Forestburgh Playhouse), Morgan James CD Release (Le Poisson Rouge), The Tunnel Play (Kraine Theater), Beauty of the Father (AADA), The Morons (Cell Theater), Fruits Unheard Of (Chashama), Who’s Your Daddy? (Irish Rep), Red Valley (New 45th Street), Next to Normal (CAP 21), A Celebration of Harold Pinter (Irish Rep), American Clock (AADA), Jimmy Titanic (Drilling Company), Lend Me A Tenor (Gallery Players), Moonfleece (45th Street Theater), Oliver (David F. Clune Center), Snapshot Plays (Theatre 54), Spring Awakening (AADA). Michael is the resident Lighting Designer for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts NYC and Tere O’Connor Dance.

Susan Becker works as a designer, artist and educator in the field of fashion and dress. Since graduating from Rhode Island School of Design she has designed for traditional and experimental settings, from the fashion industry to collaborations on stage, film, and site-specific projects. In addition to her design work, Susan has also taught courses on fashion and dress for RISD and is currently a lecturer at the University of Illinois. Her solo work centers around explorations of the social psychology of dress and culture.