American Realness





Apprehension of the white gaze created a searing moment in Nic Kay’s dance-heavy, solo biographical show about race, queerness, and activism, Lil Blk (American Realness). In one scene Kay, physically boxed in by a square of white light and contorted into a twisted ball, began on the ground, then struggled their way into a standing position. But there was no release even when they were finally on their feet: Once erect, they spoke of white audiences watching their black body as entertainment.

Nicole Serratore, American Theatre, February 2018

Above all, American Realness seems to advocate for more: more freedom, more story-telling, and more unapologetic spectacle. Though dance as a technical craft may have constituted only a fraction of the performances I saw, it remains a solid foundation for the various manifestations of physical performance throughout the festival.

Jen George, The Brooklyn Rail, February 2018

The work that resonated the most for me was nora chipaumire’s searing and defiant #PUNK (2017), an hour-long frenetic sensory assault of dance, voice, and music that left me feeling half-deaf and physically obliterated. Conceived and choreographed by chipaumire, it also featured Jamaican-born artist and dancer Shamar Watt and guitarist David Gagliardi of Los Angeles punk band Trash Talk. The piece is the first in a three-part series, “#PUNK 100% POP*NIGGA,” that charts chipaumire’s sonic influences during her youth in Zimbabwe. According to the program notes, the series “confront[s] and celebrate[s] the bodies and aesthetics of iconic women: Patti Smith (#PUNK), Grace Jones (100% POP), and Rit Nzele (*NIGGA).”

Sean J Patrick Carney, Arts in America Magazine, February 2018

While Valencia’s life is the content here, ALBUM is not your typical autobiographical solo show. Valencia, for whom ethnography is a central aspect of choreographic practice, instead presents curated fragments of her herstory with the cool and clear distance of a researcher.

Sara Lyons, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

I laughed, and it was a laugh that hurt on its way out. And that is a pretty apt description of THIS, as with so much outside of the theater today.

Eben Hoffer, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

Interspersed with shaky a capella renditions of original songs, it is in turns disturbing, tender, and darkly hilarious. Maybe it really is a Despair Solo, with only a parenthetical directive to the contrary—but the piece remains gentle yet unyielding in its ministrations, a sort of psycho-physical journey to how Marissa Perel experiences being a body in pain.

Eben Hoffer, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

As Curtis and Cunningham contact and weight-share their way through the evening, I see an embodied familiarity and trust that perhaps makes these sometimes-halting verbal conversations possible—and watching Cunningham dance in silhouette on a ladder midway through the piece, something clicks into place that never did before about what sensation might be like inside her body.

Eben Hoffer, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

Last year, I wrote about the work Ben Pryor, AR’s Founder, Curator and Producer, and Rosy Simas began towards a Native American / First Nations / Indigenous reckoning. After Rosy, a Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Heron Clan) choreographer based in Minneapolis wrote an open letter concerning Latifa Laâbissi’s Self Portrait Camouflage as presented by MoMA PS1, Ben withdrew the frame of AR around the presentation and Native American Realness was birthed. This year, the Realness brochure opened with this full page statement: We acknowledge and pay respect to Lenape Peoples.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

“Once upon a time, there was a little Black girl…” announces LaWanda Page, spinning the tale of that little girl in the Brewster projects whose “modeling career took off” heard at the beginning of RuPaul’s iconic “Supermodel (You Better Work).” With those words–nostalgic to anyone who loves over-the-top queer dance music, Bronx-born performer NIC Kay crawled down the staircase banister into the Abrons Arts Center’s Underground Theater. Not only was this a stunning entrance into their solo performance lil BLK, part of this year’s American Realness, it was also a birth of sorts–an arrival into Black girlhood or more precisely, Black femme-hood.

Emily Colucci, filthy dreams, January 2017

In her solo, We Wait in the Darkness, Rosy Simas, a Seneca Haudenosaunee artist based in Minneapolis, mediates on her ancestry, the trauma her family endured, and the land they lost. In 1961, John F. Kennedy approved plans to break the 1794 Canandaigua treaty to build what is now the Kinzua Dam and Recreation Area. Simas’ grandmother would have inherited part of this region had it not been taken. Using images and sounds of the dam and her ancestors, Simas merges the personal and the political.

Trina Mannino, The Dance Enthusiast, January 2017

In a long final scene, Medlyn and Walsh stood center-stage, like a Lower East Side American Gothic, and together they mimed Rihanna’s “Stay,” their arms and hands rotating “round and around and around and around we go,” in parallel, dizzying circles. As the song ended, the stage went abruptly black. As the house lights came up on the silent audience (all unsure of what was next), Cloud invited us down to the stage bar for a drink. The performance never quite ended; we just moved on. In his program note, Medlyn wrote that he felt “weird” about Bausch, about dance, about romance, and about “being a fan.” I can identify. Like many others, I’m a big Medlyn fan – but it definitely feels weird.

Martha Sherman,, January 2017

At the American Realness fest (full of experimental dance, glitter-radicals, avant-queer aesthetics), at the Exponential Festival (full of plays and near-plays) and at the dance-theater work I saw at Coil, it seemed as though those issues were uppermost in almost everyone’s mind. The hand-wringing question that unites them—does art make anything better?—made these last weeks a kind of superstorm of creative self-doubt.

Helen Shaw, TimeOut New York, January 2017

If you did not see this THIS but you happen get another chance to see THIS, I suspect you will see a somewhat different THIS. But, no worries. You will see Truscott–trust–and she is always worth it, no matter who shows up onstage.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, January 2017

For her performance on Tuesday, the cryptically titled This, Truscott opened with a stand-up set laced with jokes about man-hating (“feminists don’t hate all men—some of my best friends are men I hate”) and abortion (“abortion and comedy have more in common than you’d think. With both, timing is everything“). Later, the humor gave way to earnest personal accounts of violence and misogyny, including a particularly moving memory about how she once posed as a teenager for a photographer whose predatory nature she only recognized years later.

Rachel Corbett, artnet, January 2017

Evans examines various methods and manifestations of contemporary dance within her work. By analyzing the recent history of the discipline as artifact, she isolates and reconfigures aspects of its material and cultural legacies. Deconstructing protocols, production mechanisms, modes of staging, and public perceptions, her choreographies navigate the potentials for utopic sentiments, as well as dystopic tendencies, inherent within performance as a collaborative form. She approaches her pieces by moving between the often opposed realms of minimalism and excess, emphasizing the corporeal aspects of both.

GoMag, January 2017

Sitting in the audience I found myself obsessing over other people being able to see me. I wondered why the performers never looked scared. I found myself steeped in my own complicity. I had to admit that I labor consistently without ever asking why. My lack of agency materialized. My sense of danger intensified. I was somehow delighted and mortified the entire time. I walked out angry, grateful, and stunned. The Rehearsal Artist has lodged itself in my brain where it will sit for a long while.

Adil Mansoor, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

Just as punk rock can access a primal pleasure through rage and destruction, #PUNK is a necessary release. Chipaumire demands that we embrace internal unrest and feed that power into the collective.

Sara Lyons, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

The accumulation of experiences is delightful, Ellsworth’s manic charm is intoxicatingly warm and though there are mentions of death work and death prep, I carry no morbidity. I leave speechless and invigorated. I run into friends heading in and can only inarticulately say “Wow” to them with my jaw a little loose and my eyes a little dazed, but bright. There is little else on this planet that I can compare it to. It is dream state. It is a stream of many consciousnesses.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

As Medlyn and Cloud move through sections ranging from the precisely choreographed to the improvised, it all adds up to so much: about fandom, romance, legacy, loneliness, and even more. For I <3 PINA is reverent and irreverent and honest and transcendent, derived from Bausch but worthy of a legacy all its own.

Rachel Karp, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

For people of the Black African diaspora, too, these words from Minneapolis-based dance artist Rosy Simas (Seneca, Heron Clan) ring true, and I must begin with gratitude to Simas for work that illustrates the body as truth-teller and healer. We, too, are a people nurtured by connection to ancestors with tragic histories in this hemisphere, and many of us express reverence for ancestral heritage through powerful spiritual and artistic practices that are, in their way, forms of anti-colonial resistance and justice-making.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinitebody, January 2017

I witnessed one intimate exchange between Aughterlony and Rosenblit from halfway across the space with no one else nearby, and another from steps away in the midst of a crowd. Both will stay with me for a long time. Many other events I did not see; the space and the performance are organized in such a way that it is impossible to take in everything. And there is a relation there too, between my experience of the piece and that of another spectator, or that of one of the performers. This is a kind of (dis)assembly, a kind of cohabitation, and a kind of care. This, too, fits in the room.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

American Realness, an experimental festival of dance, performance, and discourse, spans several venues including the Abrons Arts Center., January 2017

Based at Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance, Realness pushes our ideas of performance forward, usually by means of avant-queer and dance-theater works. This year the roster includes world premieres by Moriah Evans, keyon gaskin and Marissa Perel, as well as new work by Antonija Livingstone and Nadia Lauro, Simone Aughterlony and Jen Rosenblit, Neal Medlyn, Michael Portnoy, Michelle Ellsworth, Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis, Rosy Simas and NIC Kay. Encore presentations include Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez’s Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd and shows by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, jumatatu m. poe and Donte Beacham, Mariana Valencia, nora chipaumire and Adrienne Truscott.

Time Out, January 2017

American Realness, an experimental festival of dance, performance, and discourse, spans several venues including the Abrons Arts Center., January 2017

If you want to know what’s hot among in the unconventional dance world, the 2018 American Realness dance festival is where you’ll find subversive artists taking center stage. The week-long festival brings together 89 performances of 17 productions over the course of just one week, most of them new works as well as six encores by popular demand. The shows are paired with talkbacks, parties and art installations; some events are free, or you can buy an all-access pass for $100. Through Jan. 16, multiple venues and times, free-$100,

T. Michelle Murphy, Metro USA, January 2017

If you thought last week’s Performance Picks covered all the winter theater festival shows to see, you would be incorrect. There are actually more, believe it or not. Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance’s American Realness festival began yesterday, bringing with it a slew of dance and movement-based works, including several world premieres. Whether you’re interested in profound performance art, classic dance, or pop cultural tribute, American Realness likely has you covered.

Cassidy Dawn Graves, Bedford and Bowery, January 2017

Calling Trans Arts Professionals and Allies! The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP), the service organization for the arts presenting industry and convener of the largest international gathering of arts professionals, will hold its first ever Trans Arts Professionals Forum. The event offers opportunities to share experiences, identify challenges, and advise on what’s needed to ensure trans arts professionals have the support, resources, access and networks to grow and thrive in their careers. This event is open to everyone and anyone interested in make the performing arts more accessible and supportive of trans and gnc artists, administrators and other industry professionals.

Event Jam, January 2017

Dancers in museums moaning and leaning against walls, pestering visitors with boilerplate philosophical questions and busting their knee caps on punishing concrete floors. This was the thorn in the side which inspired Relational Stalinism – The Musical, a maximalist showcase of the many ways in which language and movement can combine to disorient us. Mixing micro-choreography, exhaustive feats of reading in 7/4 time, operatic luggage handling, call center language-bending games, and wicked satire of the Immaterial Turn, this absurdist show commands you to “enter the rumbling chiasmus between the real and the ideal.”

Event Jam, January 2017

Inside the room, dungeon-esque encounters and ordinary domestic lingering exercise a politic that comes with care-taking, danger and amnesia. Aughterlony & Rosenblit, alongside Gutierrez and Self on sound, maintain a complicated relationship to order that encourages cracks and leaks inside architectures for gathering. A free-standing wall, a roaming kitchen island and decaying bodies are part of a disruptive ecology that needs constant adjustment. Rhythmic sorcery drives the effort despite the un-governability of ingredients. Is this a construction site or a cooking show? The room offers an expanded horizon, no longer obliged to rid oneself of the things that supposedly suspend progress. With local guest performer Niall Noel Jones.

Event Jam, January 2017

Years before the phrase became a rallying cry and popular protest sign, my kids and I were big fans of the They Might Be Giants song Science is Real. Each time I encounter choreographer Michelle Ellsworth’s work, I am reminded of the sentiment in the Brooklyn band’s Here Comes Science album – overwhelmingly and effusively witty and fanciful, but sneakily informative and subversive. In her latest work, at Invisible Dog Art Center as part of the 2018 American Realness Festival, Ellsworth delivers another stunning head trip, literally, as limited audiences encounter and become part of several fleeting social science experiments.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

As performed by seven charismatic dancers (Toni Carlson, Talya Epstein, Alvaro Gonzalez, Charles Gowin, Madison Krekel, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, and Alex Rodabaugh), the performance [of Variations…] overflows with a joy so simple and profound it feels holy. The dancers throw themselves into unison phrases, coming together in small groups or a duet set in counterpoint to the rest of the company, melding and recombining into new formations. During several improvisatory sequences, they get down to Prince and hoedown to Aaron Copland, making delighted eye contact with one another. Resting alongside of these buoyant moments are quieter images of healing and suffering, exhaustion and care. Gonzalez gently washes Krekel’s bare back, as Gowin wrings out a sponge over his own head. Three dancers each offer a steady, supportive arm to three others as they shudder, gasping for breath.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

In Moriah Evans’s Figuring, minuscule movements start from deep inside the body before moving out.

Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, January 2017

American Realness, Ben Pryor’s now almost decade-old brainchild, was once a maverick festival of downtown art that launched many new faces and works when he curated early festivals at Abrons Arts. Pryor is still the mastermind, now presenting “Realness” with Gibney Dance, still in collaboration with Abrons. This year’s expanded festival, from January 9-16, is bursting at the seams, showing both premieres and encore performances at several locations, including not only Abrons and Gibney, but also Danspace Project, Invisible Dog, SculptureCenter and others.

Martha Sherman,, January 2017

American Realness Festival takes home the prize for introducing audiences to otherworldly (and at times controversial) genre-crossing performances. If you are looking for original, boundary-pushing dance, performance and discourse, you’ll find here.

Trip by Skyscanner, Downtown Magazine, January 2017

In Moriah Evans’s piece, three females are both the subject and the object of performance; their gestures, or absence of gesture, are a study of contemporary dance and movement. It’s part of the ninth edition of the American Realness festival.

Caroline Goldstein, Artnet, January 2017

The American Realness festival, now in its ninth year, aims to present contemporary performance that is daring, subversive, and new. To its credit, this year the lineup of performers is diverse and not especially well known. Curated by founder Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor, the festival runs only one week, putting on 17 performances across Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Queens, and Brooklyn, including at Gibney Dance, Abrons Arts Center, and SculptureCenter. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to see the performances, as they will be impressively staged a total of 89 times.

Elisa Wouk Almino, hyperallergic, January 2017

Since the harsh winter weather tends to discourage theater attendance, few shows open each year in January. An exception to the rule rests with three downtown festivals that celebrate experimental theater, performance and dance: the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, Performance Space 122’s COIL Festival and American Realness at Abrons Arts Center.

Matt Windman, amNew York, January 2017

The 2018 version of Realness, running January 9–16, is branching out to spaces in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, with a majority of the works appearing at Abrons’ multivenue home on the Lower East Side (check out Mariana Valencia’s Album) or at Gibney’s space near City Hall. Outliers include the local premiere of Michelle Ellsworth’s The Rehearsal Artist at Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Arts Center; Everything Fits in the Room, featuring Simone Aughterlony and Jen Rosenblit with Miguel Gutierrez and Colin Self, at Brooklyn’s Industria; Moriah Evans’s Figuring, a world premiere, at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City; and Keyon Gaskin’s a swatch of lavender at Participant Inc. on East Houston Street. Find schedules and complete information at AmericanRealness.

Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice, January 2017

The New Yorker calls American Realness Festival “a sampler of boundary-pushing performance bordering on dance” with 89 performances of 17 productions, plus exhibitions, at Abrons Arts Center, Gibney Dance an various locations.

Suzanna Bowling, Times Square Chronicles, January 2017

AMERICAN REALNESS FESTIVAL at various locations (Jan. 9-16 at various times). In its ninth year, this collection of bold, experimental work from subversive artists — part of the growing Gibney Dance universe — features 89 performances of 17 productions over eight days. New work will be presented by Moriah Evans, Keyon Gaskin and Marissa Perel, and several works will be seen in the city for the first time, including Neal Medlyn’s tribute to the late choreographer Pina Bausch and Michelle Ellsworth’s The Rehearsal Artist featuring an eight-foot-high wooden wheel. Six previously seen and acclaimed works receive an encore, including Nora Chipaumire’s #PUNK, which mixes that musical genre with memories of her Zimbabwean childhood, and Variations on Themes From Lost and Found, which reconstructs work by John Bernd, an important, insightful choreographer who died of AIDS in 1988.

Brian Schaefer, The New York Times, January 2017

American Realness, a forward-thinking festival of dance and genre-bending performance, returns to New York for a ninth year. What began as a scrappy response to the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters has grown into a January tradition, considerable in scope, influence and ambition. This year’s edition includes 17 works at locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, including the festival’s Lower East Side headquarters and original home, Abrons Arts Center. Highlights include three world premieres — Moriah Evans’s Figuring; Marissa Perel’s (Do Not) Despair Solo; and Keyon Gaskin’s [A Swatch of Lavender]: a Self Portrait. And if you missed them the first time, catch Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s stirring Séancers; Mariana Valencia’s wittily introspective Album; and Nora Chipaumire’s Patti Smith-inspired #Punk.

Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, January 2017

American Realness (January 9 – 16) is a festival of experimental dance and performance created by downtown impresario Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor. It is co-presented with Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance. This year’s line-up boasts three world premieres, four North American premieres, four New York City premieres and six encore engagements. Whew! If that’s not enough, all three festivals have expanded their reach this year to venues throughout New York City. There are the usual suspects like the East Village’s LaMama etc., and Danspace Project, and LES’s Abrons Arts Center. But if you are up for traveling outside of the ‘hood, you can catch shows at the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, Invisible Dog Art Center and BRIC house in Brooklyn, or Gibney Dance on Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan–an easy 20-minute walk from the LES.

Robin Schatell, The Lo-Down, January 2017

To begin 2018, put the extensive lineup for the acclaimed series “American Realness,” Jan. 9 to Jan. 16 on your calendars. Featured will be encore engagements with works by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, with Nick Hallett and Jennifer Monson’s, “Variations on Themes” from “Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd”; Mariana Valencia’s ALBUM; Nora Chipaumire’s #PUNK; jumatatu m. poe and Donte Beacham’s Let ‘im Move You: A Study (2013/2016); and Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Success (2016); Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s Séancers; and Adrienne Truscott’s This.

Charmaine Patricia Warren, Amsterdam News, December 2017

SculptureCenter is about to break its mold as a top-notch contemporary art museum by presenting the premiere of the dance extravaganza Figuring at its Long Island City venue from Jan. 9 to Jan. 14. This high-energy, 90-minute piece features three female dancers – Lizzie Feidelson, Nicole Marie Mannarino and Sarah Beth Percival – who use micro movements to display emotion. Through their reactions and interactions on stage, they create visible and audible internal systems that contrast with the external forces of space. It sounds a bit complicated, but it’s all part of the flow. At moments, there’s control. Then, there’s a loss of control. There’s cohesion. Then, there’s chaos. The dancers create responses that are felt, but not seen … and maybe even seen but not felt., QNS, January 2018

“A dance” is how she labels her latest work, which is to be performed Jan. 9-11 at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn as part of American Realness, the annual genre-blurring festival of avant-garde performance. That there is no dancing, per se, in this dance isn’t out of the ordinary for American Realness, but ambivalence about performance is emphasized to an unusual degree in her work’s title: The Rehearsal Artist. “My father’s sister was an extraordinary pianist,” Ms. Ellsworth explained. “She would practice and practice but she never wanted to perform. And her husband said: ‘You’re not a performance artist. You’re a rehearsal artist.’” The title is a kind of self-identification for Ms. Ellsworth. Although her pieces tend to be solos or composed largely of her talking, she said she is much less interested in performing work than in making it. Nor does she ever like to consider her works finished. Imagining each performance as an additional rehearsal is a coping strategy, she said.

Brian Seibert, The New York Times, January 2018

It’s a new year, so why not try something new? The five performance festivals opening this month in New York will help adventurous theatergoers do just that. These showcases tend to highlight the experimental and the offbeat. Some firsts this year will also be lasts.

Peter Libbey,The New York Times, January 2018

Based at Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance, and dedicated to avant-queer and post-postmodern hybrid works, the festival presents two major looks backwards: Glam nerd Neal Medlyn’s I <3 PINA is dedicated to the late dance-theater genius Pina Bausch; Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd, directed by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez, revives the great works of a choreographer lost to AIDS in 1988. Other pieces that stand out in the crammed schedule are Adrienne Truscott’s memoirish THIS and Nora Chipaumire’s #PUNK, inspired by punk icon Patti Smith and Chipaumire’s own life in Zimbabwe.

Helen Shaw, Timeout New York, January 2018

MINOR MATTER, LIGIA LEWIS Of the many unorthodox events at January’s American Realness festival, this enthralling trio for Ms. Lewis, Jonathan Gonzalez and Hector Thami Manekehla left the most lasting impression. In wrestling matches, balancing acts and other feats, the intrepid group all but tore down the black-box theater walls, offering an urgent exploration of love, rage and where they meet.

Siobhan Burke,The New York Times, December 2017

In some ways Séancers is a continuation of his last evening-length show, #negrophobia, presented at Abrons in 2016 as part of the American Realness festival. That work, a more explicit reckoning with his brother’s death and violence against black men in the United States, has toured Europe over the past two years.

Siobhan Burke,The New York Times, December 2017

AMERICAN REALNESS 2018 This festival of experimental dance and performance, formed and organized by Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor, coincides with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference. It’s a big bang for your buck, with performances held both at Abrons Arts Center, as well as additional programming at Gibney Dance’s Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center and other locations. Jan 9-16,

Gia Kourlas,The New York Times, September 2017



Focusing on “socially and aesthetically marginal and subversive artists tearing at the boundaries of form and wrestling with the realities of identity,” American Realness was founded in 2010 by Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor and Abrons Arts Center in 2010, directly modeled after the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival; the eighth annual event comprises more than two dozen performances, readings, workshops, discussions, installations, and a party.

This Week in New York, January 2017

For nearly twenty-five minutes, the amazing Joanna Kotze and Lance Gries moved around the room, avoiding eye contact with the audience, even when hovering directly over them, the only sound at the start the rhythmic pattern of their breathing.

This Week in New York, January 2017

The very intimate show, which will be performed for a small audience, was inspired by Anselm Keifer’s eighty-two-foot-long Étroits sont les Vaisseaux, an undulating installation that is on long-term view at MassMoca.

This Week in New York, January 2017

It was the realest artist talk-back I’d ever experienced and made critical theory a contemporary experimental performing art form. In real time, composer, M.Lamar offered off-stage questions and commentaries on Jaamil’s unfolding work. This enlivened the on-stage action and housed the performance within an immediate discourse, a kind of Socratic intervention and probing.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

Artist, scholar, writer, editor, curator, and Movement Research’s Coordinator for Diversity Initiatives, Tara Aisha Willis and AR Discourse Series curator Ali Rosa-Salas are my it-grrls of 2017, lead off with dancer, producer, curator, and manager Marya Wethers and you’d have my trifecta bets for a curatorial future landscape edging towards equity.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

Indeterminacy offers an incredible counter to the dangerous certainties of art and existence. Predictability’s naughty little sister, it lures us into a playground game of individual meaning making, and when mobilized by a pair of artists who have brought us a wealth of irreverent causation between classical and found texts with dance, sound, costume, props, time, and space over the years, it’s like an ASMR (think non-sexual brain orgasm) experience, soothing because it’s firing neurons in a happy, tingling way. Head orgasms aside, Paul’s ability to alter focus and gestural timings while delivering a stream of text is a neurological feat of its own, a virtuosic expansion of the multi-data stream performance legacy of his association with the experimental theater company The Wooster Group.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

Two parts of the American Realness 2017 DISCOURSE series, curated by Ali Rosa-Salas, had anchored the day. An important rising curatorial voice, Ali had offered key perspectives during the Danspace Lost and Found Platform Conversations and for American Realness helped shape the planned discourse with an emphasis on “the urgency of critical artistic practice, viewership and scholarship as they concern race, aesthetic politics, cultural equity, and more.”

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

Hear more about American Realness in these Maxamoo podcasts: Preview, Mid-Festival, and Final Report for NYC Theatre Festivals in January 2017.

Maxamoo, January 2017


The works in the dance-forward American Realness (Jan 5-12) festival tend to lead with transgression. If someone isn’t naked and screaming at you, check your program—you may be at the wrong place.

Time Out New York , January 2017

January became the month for theater festivals in the city — more than at any time other than the summer – because of the presence of thousands of members of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters here each year for their convention.

New York Theater, January 2017

This year I’m particularly excited about Trajal Harrell’s mashup of postmodern dance and voguing and Paul Lazar’s choreographed recitation of John Cage’s one-minute stories. And do not miss a special conversation titled “Native American Realness,” which will bring together Rosy Simas, Christopher K. Morgan, and Sara Nash to discuss the state of Native American performance work today.

Jillian Steinhauer, Hyperallergic, January 2017

On Saturday, January 7, American Realness 2017 presented a conversation featuring Native American choreographers Rosy Simas (Seneca) and Christopher K. Morgan (Native Hawaiian) with Sara Nash, Program Director, New England Foundation for the Arts at Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, January 2017

The boundary-pushing American Realness Festival ends its week-long run at the Abrons Arts Center tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Among the closing performances: Mx. Oops /Wendell Cooper, a multimedia ritual using sound, meditation, urban dance, video projection and rap.

The Lo-Down, January 2017

Tina Satter never takes a break. The founder and artistic director of the Obie-winning Brooklyn ensemble Half Straddle has been producing and directing her plays in New York since the company’s inception in 2008 earning an Obie and being named one of Time Out New York’s “Off-Off Broadway Innovators to Watch” in the process.

Graham Techler, Paste, January 2017

American Realness launched this Thursday at the Abrons Art Center and runs through Tuesday. Don’t miss this festival. Those of us who aren’t in the performance world may find the volume line up choices a little overwhelming, but pretty much all of it is good.

ARTFCITY, January 2017

As she puts on a pair of white gloves, she practices intonation on the words “milk, cream, salt.” She deconstructs the way language is coded, its use as a tool of self-affirmation, or societal classification, or oppression, or all three at once. This discordance is the crux of Michel’s work, and the effect is simply spectacular.

Victoria Santos, Stage Buddy, January 2017

The American Realness Festival continues to thrive. Once a scrappy player in the halo of events surrounding the annual January APAP Conference, Realness has established its place in the New York dance scene, and this year again presented a wide offering of experimental work, premieres, and in-process offerings.

Martha Sherman,, January 2017

If you missed Juliana May (Adult Documentary), Jen Rosenblit (Clap Hands), or Paul Lazar (Cage Shuffle) at American Realness last week, you can catch all of them this week, too. But add to your Realness list Big Dance Theater’s other work in process 17C, an ensemble work based on the diaries of Samuel Pepys, but hearing other voices – the women in his life – to make current sense of a fabled history maker., January 2017

Big Dance Theater’s Paul Lazar will be moving to Annie-B Parsons’ choreography in Cage Shuffle at the American Realness Festival at Abrons Arts. It’s based on John Cage’s Indeterminacy, and will combine randomly excerpts from Cage’s written fragments with randomly selected pockets of Parsons’ dance ideas. Look for an odd and fascinating mix, performed by the ever-quirky and watchable Lazar., January 2017

There aren’t many stars in contemporary dance, but Meg Stuart is one: she shines bright. An American who made her name in Europe more than two decades ago—she now splits her time between Brussels and Berlin—Stuart explores the tension between dance and theater with an exquisite nonchalance. Using movement as her base, she is an excavator of sensations.

Gia Kourlas, 4Columns, January 2017

American Realness presents art that provides crucial alternatives to mainstream cultural models. If art is a mirror held up to its spectator, then these artists are holding us in thrall to our own image even as we struggle to create it. Americans and people across the planet are faced with a complicated, heterogeneous, and multiplicitous “self” that feels anything but collective. It takes being together to recall that we are, indeed, together. Messy and uncomfortable as that may be.

Megan Bridge, Thinking Dance, January 2017

Experimental theatre conjures different expectations than traditional theatre. You expect the unexpected. Jen Rosenblit’s Clap Hands, presented during American Realness, certainly places us within this canon. There are several ways to approach this genre, but it can be advantageous to take it all in and then put the pieces together later.

Melanie Greene, The Dance Enthusiast, January 2017

For many, January is a month of self-reckoning and self-contemplation, a time to reset after the sweetmeats and sugarplums of the holiday season. Not so in the dance world. January equals opportunity. Presenters from around the globe tramp through New York’s slush and snow in search of work they want to book. For dancers and dance-makers, these see-and-be-seen weeks can be a game changer.

Erin Bomboy, The Dance Enthusiast, January 2017

In a political moment where feelings of anger, alienation, and profound uncertainty are reinforced daily, American Realness continues to be not only an outlet, but a lifeline.

Eric Sutphin, Art in America, January 2017


Ghost Rings (American Realness): Structured around a “fake band” (Tina Satter, Chris Giarmo, Kristen Sieh, Erin Markey) and tales of Satter’s complicated relationship with her sister, Ghost Rings explores a variety of sisterhoods—relatives, friends, and romantic…. Satter’s piece feels like a page from a teenage diary covered in glittery stickers, lipstick kisses, love stories for that friend you want to be more, and thoughts of a sister who made you happy once.

Nicole Serratore, American Theatre, January 2017

A live interdisciplinary adaptation of Marlon T. Riggs film, Tongues United, Director/Adaptor/Performer Ni’Ja Whitson and performer Kirsten Flores-Davis examine the complexities of black gay men. Through words and dance, we see these identities at war with each other. When out of sync, these identities destroy each other. When in sync, the power is as explosive as a well-earned snap. Whitson and Flores-Davis explore Riggs film with precision, pacing, placement, and poise.

Terrence Mosley, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

In one memorable image, her fingers clutch her closed eyelids as she laughs in a low, strange voice. In another, she faces the audience and her hands push her face into a sneering grimace, her expression and posture evoking a deranged Hollywood gangster. Distortion prevails, but there are moments of tenderness as well. “You know when I said, ‘I’m terrified of anyone getting close to me’– I take it back,” she says in the evening’s second piece, I take it back. Stuart lets us get close, but exactly who it is we are approaching is constantly in question.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

minor matter describes the boundaries of the theater as a means of arriving at the boundaries of being, which is to say, on the political questions of how black and blackened lives move through worlds or get fixed in place. The black box and black people are blurred into one, becoming the “minor matter” of the title, a necessary substance—the liberating neutrality of space or flesh—held in common and taken for granted.

Hannah Black, 4Columns, January 2017


But all speak of connection and loss and longing, the beauty but fragility of relationships no matter what form they take, and the rings that resonate off the ghosts of the ones we used to hold dearest.

Rachel Karp, Contemporary Performance, January 2017


AmeriSHOWZ, we learn from these earnest representatives, allows you to buy tickets to a variety of performances (advertised “brands” include Meg Stuart, Miguel Gutierrez, and Trajal Harrell) at wholesale prices, then resell them to others at retail price, leaving you to pocket the difference. What an opportunity! This is sharply observed and gleefully executed, but Rodabaugh is up to something more than satire. By placing our consumption of live art into the context of what appears to be a pyramid scheme, the performance raises issues of both commodification and long-term economic sustainability.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017


In a space covered with thick brown shag carpeting, May’s performers repeat with subtle addition and variation a cycle of movement beginning and ending with a recognizable tableaux and text. Small alterations to the text and fluidity within roles creates new contexts for the deconstructed dialogue shared between performers and the the audience. ADULT DOCUMENTARY is an intelligent exploration of language and form, inhabiting a space of friction between the two.

Stephen Eckert, Contemporary Performance, January 2017


minor matter is uncomfortable. Rage in the black body is a polarizing subject in black culture. It’s as personal as a secret. Minor Matter explores the various ways black rage manifests and how it effects the community at large. Choreographer/Performer Ligia Lewis and her collaborators Jonathan Gonazalez and Hector Thami Manekehla fuse anger with everything from the mundane to the intimate.

Terrence Mosley, Contemporary Performance, January 2017


The piece ends on an unforgettable image, a smile of gratification delivered directly into the camera. The unashamed pursuit of queer desire is still a radical proposition, and Tyminski’s singing/screaming/desiring body is a thing of blistering beauty.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

The stage of the Abrons Playhouse has been transformed into a runway, a black strip running down the center of a white rectangle. There is an informal but buzzy vibe as the sold-out audience climbs the stairs onto the stage and takes its place on three sides of the runway. Are we attending a fashion show, a social event, an artistic performance? The space begins to articulate the intentions of Trajal Harrell’s solo, a remounting of the first work in his Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at The Judson Church series.

Philip Gates, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

Through an accumulation of spoken text, movement scores, and arresting feats of live sound design (by Kobilka), what transpires among this playful, gently sardonic ensemble–described by Rosenblit as an “over-crowded solo”–is a matrixed and un-precious play with the technologies of coming together. Like the costumes, Clap Hands is all fractured references, offering momentary pauses in recognizable images before reconfiguring so repeatedly that any weight of meaning floats up into a foggy haze above our heads.

Sara Lyons, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

From that point on, life was all I saw. The dancers threw themselves into knots, hoisted each other up against the walls, and even downed pants for a bit of dry fucking. It was invigorating just to watch. By the end of it all, Lewis had blood dripping from her knee, and the three were entirely out of breath. It felt like a celebration.

Paddy Johnson, Art F City, January 2017

Sitting in Ni’Ja Whitson’s A Meditation On Tongues Sunday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching ghosts. Part of the American Realness festival, their moving performance (Note: Ni’Ja identifies as gender non-specific and prefers the pronouns “they/their”) reinterpreted Marlon Riggs’s seminal 1989 film Tongues Untied, which explored the fraught intersection of black and gay male identity during the critical years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Emily Colucci, Art F City, January 2017

Identity and marginal otherness–from immigration status to religion to gender–are battlegrounds with renewed real life-or-death stakes in the current moment. And Michel is a curious, fearless explorer, eccentric and mercurial indeed in her body language, fascination with the odd prop oddly used, and tendency to randomly mumble or declaim. She opens dimensions of mind and body that we usually declare unseemly and diseased and seems to say, “Look what else is here.”

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinite Body, January 2017


Ben Pryor’s American Realness Festival is back at Abrons Arts Center for an eighth year beginning Thursday. The week-long program offers an array of artists presenting genre-defying dance and performance, along with video, installation, readings and conversations.

Ed Litvak, The Lo-Down, January 2017

Another flick of the lights, and Bertucci moved from the stool to a sound table, live-mixing a score to accompany Lazar’s continued movement. The shift away from text allowed for increased focus on Lazar’s dance and also on Bertucci’s: both so focused on specific tasks, at times connecting with each other and the audience directly, at times in their own worlds, always mesmerizing.

Rachel Karp, Contemporary Performance, January 2017

The very intimate show, which will be performed for a small audience, was inspired by Anselm Keifer’s eighty-two-foot-long Étroits sont les Vaisseaux, an undulating installation that is on long-term view at MassMoca….The piece deals with time and tides, running twenty-four minutes and fifty seconds, based on the lunar day, which lasts twenty-four hours and fifty minutes.

Cassidy Dawn Graves, This Week in New York, January 2017

This year, check out Dana Michel’s solo exploration of identity in Mercurial George or Wendell Cooper’s performance of a multimedia ritual using sound meditation, urban dance, video projection, and rap, within an installation by sculptor Jasmine Murrell. Any preconceptions about traditional performing arts are sure to be challenged by this groundbreaking festival.

Katherine Martinelli, AFAR, January 2017

This edgy festival is founded in dance — but it might also include vocals, audio installation, art or, really, anything (last year, audience members met some live snakes). This year, there are pieces exploring identity and the nature of time among other themes.

Jennifer Vanasco, WNYC, January 2017

“Fugitivity, empathy, inscripture, erasure, the breakdown of white-supremacist hierarchies, and the thumping bass of pop culture” are among the priorities of the eighth edition of American Realness, a swirling eddy of dance, theater, and astonishment featuring works from Meg Stuart, Dana Michel, Jen Rosenblit, Will Rawls, Trajal Harrell, Ni’Ja Whitson, Mx. Oops, and more.

Katherine Martinelli, Artforum, January 2017


The week-long affair places a particular focus on marginalized creators, in hopes of contributing to “the breakdown of white-supremacist hierarchies.” Realness also go heavy on the pop culture.

Cassidy Dawn Graves, Bedford Bowery, January 2017


…based on last night’s opening works by Will Rawls, Meg Stuart, and Dana Michel and the roster of upcoming artists making their AR debuts this year, as well as the impending discussions curated by Ali Rosa-Salas, I’d say Pryor’s focus on the “breakdown of white-supremacist hierarchies” and on the practice of “realness as resistance,” is helping us all define which America(s) we mean to stand our ground for in the coming days.

Maura Donohue, Culturebot, January 2017

DanaMichel For NY Times

For the second year in a row, Ligia Lewis, a Dominican-born choreographer living in Berlin, offered the most vital new work in the festival. minor matter, the second part of her Blue, Red, White triptych, is a beautiful, blistering trio for her, Jonathan Gonzalez and Hector Thami Manekehla. One of her guiding questions, stated in a description of the work: “Can the black box be host to a black experience that goes beyond identity politics?”

Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, January 2017


One note sounded by Ms. Lieber and other choreographers was that they could think of few colleagues whose APAP gigs have led directly to bookings. But it happens. After showing her trio Polly Pocket at American Realness in 2014, the choreographer Jillian Peña was invited to take it to Vienna, Berlin and, more locally, Danspace Project and the American Dance Institute. With her latest project in its early stages, she is taking this January off.

Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, January 2017

The writer and director Tina Satter is another artist who revels in the strange, though her work with Half Straddle often twins the bizarre with the gauzy familiarity of a slumber party. In Ghost Rings, she’s created a song cycle prompted by the close relationship she and her sister had as children and how that relationship fractured as they grew older, a work The Times called “fantastical, odd and sometimes so tender it’s raw.”

Alexis Soloski, The New York Times, January 2017


Ben Pryor produces one such showcase festival, American Realness, which he launched after working on APAP showcases for Pentacle, a “cluster management” service for dancers that lets several troupes share personnel and resources. Seasons at APAP gave him “first-hand, frontline experience of putting artists’ work into the marketplace…aggressively seeking out programmers and curators I thought were appropriate.

 – Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice, January 2017

American Realness Festival at Abrons Arts Center (Jan. 5-12). Since its debut in 2010, the American Realness festival has been a popular purveyor of audacious work by contemporary performance artists.

Brian Schaefer, The New York Times, December 2016


This week Mr. Harrell’s multidance project, Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, will reach its completion with the release of a digital publication, XL, and an accompanying installation as part of American Realness 2017. The annual festival, which begins on Thursday, Jan. 5, and is held mainly at Abrons Arts Center and Gibney Dance’s Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center.

 – Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, December 2016

Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor — Ben for short — founded American Realness six years ago, when he realized the dance world didn’t have a pipeline to the international community of curators. “Hundreds of curators [were] coming into town” for APAP, the annual performing arts conference, says the Long Island native, “and [we weren’t] throwing the right kind of party.

 – Elizabeth Zimmer, The Village Voice, December 2016


Based at Abrons Arts Center, with a few off-site offerings, Realness pushes our ideas of performance forward, usually by means of avant-queer and dance-theater works.

– Time Out New York, December, 2016


Dance producers and curators flock to New York in January for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference, prompting a citywide explosion of festivals and showcases

 – Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, September 2016





M. Lamar photo by M. Lamar“Destruction is a song of mourning for what Antony Paul Farley calls ‘the motionless movement of death through slavery, segregation and neo-segregation.'”
– American Towns, Published January 2016


M.-Lamar“There are times when the apocalypse may be warranted. That’s a statement I never thought I’d even consider making, but after seeing M. Lamar’s stunning operatic masterpiece, “Destruction” at Abrons Art Center, I’ve come around on it.”
Paddy Johnson, Art F City, Published January 2016


Erin Markey & Becca Blackwell - A Ride On The English Cream“The Abrons Arts Center’s American Realness festival presents a rollicking love affair between a young girl and her family’s pontoon boat. And a horse. The playwright Erin Markey plays Reagan, the besotted girl; Becca Blackwell stars as the desirable boat and horse.”
Alexis Soloski, The New York Times, Published January 2016


LarissaVelezJackson_photoc_oBrianRogers3“I wanted to start off with that helpful promotional statement for Star Crap Method because if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that dancemaker Larissa Velez-Jackson is precise as heck about how she wants us to understand the power in any given mess.”
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, Published January 2016


Yvonne Meier for American Realness Festival“Yvonne Meier is a veteran downtown performance artist–she has been performing in New York City since she left Zurich, Switzerland in 1979 and made work at P.S. 122 in its infancy. In the U.S. premiere of Durch Nacht Und Nebel (that’s “By Night And Fog”), she really does feel like a seasoned pro, the wizened anti-mother of American Realness.”
Sara Lyons, Contemporary Performance, Published January 2016


AntonioRamos_Mira El_Alvaro González D“Antonio Ramos and The Gang Bangers leave little between themselves and audience in this fascinating dance piece that’s all about testing the nature of intimacy. The performers wear costumes that simultaneously obscure and reveal.”
Terrence Mosely, Contemporary Performance, Published January 2016


JaamilKosoko_#negrophobia-byScottShaw-37“Jaamil Olawale Kosoko’s #negrophobia is a performance, a provocation, an autobiography, an outcry, and a lesson to all (particularly the white folks in the house, myself included). But above all, with its intimate staging and arresting deluge of imagery, it is an unapologetic mirror image of what it means to exist in a black male body in the United States today.”
Sara Lyons, Contemporary Performance, Published January 2016


Ligia Lewis „Sorrow Swag““Viscerally nightmarish and spectacular in its simplicity, Sorrow Swag draws its audience into a sensorial abyss populated by cultural remnants of the Western canon. Choreographed by Ligia Lewis with live sound by George Lewis Jr and muscularly performed by Brian Getnick, Sorrow Swag stages an amorphous boundary between interior and exterior, the internal and the cultural.”
Caden Manson, Contemporary Performance, Published January 2016


JackFerver_byIanDouglas_A“I sat down recently to talk with Jack about movies, past lives, Jeffrey Dahmer, camp, neo-camp, and his upcoming solo show Mon, Ma, Mes (Revisité) which begins tomorrow night, Wednesday January 13th ­­­­­at Gibney Dance in TriBeCa and continues through Saturday.”
M. Sharkey, Out Magazine, Published January 2016


Erin Markey & Becca Blackwell - A Ride On The English Cream“A Ride on the Irish Cream, however, feels like a departure from the touring engagements of the past, and a deepening of present coupledom. On the surface, it may about woman named Reagan who is in love with her family’s pontoon boat (played by Blackwell), but the metaphors run deep.”
Eliza Bent, American Theatre (TCG), Published January 2016


13MARKEYJP-articleLarge“‘I want it be sexier,’ she said, less than a week before previews begin at Abrons Arts Center on Wednesday. Then she turned to Emily Bate, who, besides playing guitar, wrote the score with Ms. Markey and Kenny Mellman, to discuss the cue for her to start strumming.”
Jason Zinoman, The New York Times, Published January 2016


M. Lamar photo by M. Lamar“M. Lamar has been known to snatch a wig off U.S. history, unflinchingly exploring the toxic legacies of colonization and the slave trade. His new show, Destruction, which begins January 13 as part of the American Realness Festival at the Abrons Arts Center, is sure to further probe and provoke audiences.”
Roytel Montero, Next Magazine, Published January 2016


KeithHennessy_JassemHindi_PhotoBy_AnjaBeutler.de09-1140x540“At 7:00 p.m., Hennessy and Hindi, naked but for shin-length aprons, asked if the audience was ready. A few more audience members entered, found seats, and joined the rest of us on stage to await future friend/ships, a poetic and satirical performance-art installation that, grounded in inclusivity, acceptance, and worldwide love, uncovers the “unwelcome”.”
Kathryn Turney, Stage Buddy, Published January 2016


13GIAREALNESS3-articleLarge“In “Durch Nacht und Nebel” (“By Night and Fog”), she keeps her audacious reputation intact, as well as her predilection for props. Here, they include a hefty mound of rubble, plastic eggs with baby dolls inside — she shoves them in her mouth — and Band-Aids. They cover much of Ms. Meier’s voluptuous, nearly naked body; as she shakes, they quiver, transforming her skin into scales.”
Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published January 2016


09REALNESS-1452286346933-articleLarge“At American Realness, Heather Kravas offered both. The prompt for her fiercely matter-of-fact solo Dead, disappears was Richard Serra’s 1967 Verb List for future sculpture (“to roll/ to crease/ to fold”). The young sculptor considered the putative results a study in process, which movement always is.”
Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times, Published January 2016


crawling“As the headline act at “American Realness”, a festival dedicated to showcasing new and experimental dance-cum-performance, (January 7-17th.) Culture Administration felt oddly church-like…I found myself at turns enraptured, frightened, impatient, stunned, charmed and euphoric.”
Paddy Johnson, Art F City, Published January 2016


heather-kravas-dead-disappears“It does not get a whole lot more intimate and undefined than dead, disappears, a solo work making its New York premiere at the American Realness festival at Abrons Arts Center.”
Mark Rifkin, This Week In New York, Published January 2016


_75X7695 (1)-NR“The seventh American Realness festival consists of twenty cutting-edge theatrical presentations ($20 each), a movement workshop ($90), and four free lectures and discussions over the course of eleven days, January 7-17, almost exclusively at Abrons Arts Center.”
Mark Rifkin, This Week In New York, Published January 2016


panopticon-2-e1452553254711“If the title of Jillian Peña’s Panopticon recalls nineteenth-century optical instruments, you’re on the wrong track. It’s French philosopher Michel Foucault who’s the real reference for the Brooklyn-based choreographer’s latest evening-length piece, making its world premiere as a dual presentation of the COIL and American Realness festivals at Abrons Arts Center.”
Mark Rifkin, This Week In New York, Published January 2016


11SIOBHANREALNESS-master675“One of Mr. Gaskin’s contentions sticks with me: that he is “performing for mostly white audiences,” which describes the Realness audience. The festival addresses this, too, with a talk next weekend led by the scholar Thomas F. DeFrantz, who proposes that “the discourse of race in contemporary performance falls apart when whites try to understand black performance.” Everyone should go.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January 2016


Erin Markey & Becca Blackwell - A Ride On The English Cream“Pop a Dramamine and saddle up. Ride on the Irish Cream, a new musical created and written by downtown performer Erin Markey, begins January 13 at Abrons Arts Center. Markey stars as Reagan, a young princess in love with her family’s pontoon boat/horse. Yes, you read that right.”
Brandon Voss, Next Magazine, Published January 2016


Yvonne Meier for American Realness Festival“American Realness is especially hot this year, and a particularly mouthwatering entry is avant-choreographer Yvonne Meier’s latest “Durch Nacht und Nebel.” It’s said to rely heavily on props, and the only thing we can safely predict is that the show itself — which may or may not include nudity — won’t play it safe.”
Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Post, Published January 2016


569028951700002c00567138“DOWNLOAD will occur in conjunction with American Realness, an annual festival of contemporary performance in New York City. American Realness presents over 72 performances throughout an eleven-day period, primarily at Abrons Arts Center, but also MoMA PS1 and Gibney Dance Center.”
JamesMichael Nichols, Huffpost New York, Published January 2016


09REALNESS-master675“Masterminded by Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor, Realness coincides with the citywide conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters — international curators and producers in the market for new work — which returns each year like a recurring dream, or nightmare, depending on your relationship to the idea of shopping for live art.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January 2016


Hi Res Photo by Serena Jara“The Abrons Arts Center–based Realness always pushes our ideas of performance forward, usually by means of avant-queer and dance-theater works.”
Helen Shaw, Time Out New York, Published January 2016


Jillian_Pena_PS122_by_Maria Baranova-1974“In addition to the conference, a dozen major performing arts industry forums and public festivals presented by leading U.S. and global performing arts organizations take place Jan. 5-19 in collaboration with APAP under the January In NYC partnership, to involve over 45,000 attendees and 1,500 performances along with professional development and networking opportunities. These include American Realness”
Jim Beesman, The Examiner, Published January 2016


Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 4.11.00 PM“The official afterparty for this year’s American Realness is poised to be great, because it’ll be hosted by Brooklyn-based art collective The Culture Whore. Founded by Dream Dommu and Paul Leopold, they describe themselves as “a community of artists exploring queerness in all its forms by creating ephemeral spaces and permanent platforms that cultivate connectivity, inclusivity, free expression, and pleasure.'”
Alexander Ladarola,Thump, Published January 2016


AntonioRamos_Mira-El_Alvaro-González-D“The annual American Realness festival, which began in 2010, means to be category-defying and controversial — and often succeeds. Some dancegoers stay far away; some wouldn’t miss it. I’ve seen too many bad or trashy items of kitsch, pornography, camp and silliness at the festival, but also a few pieces of memorable dance theater that took me where I hadn’t been before.”
Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published January 2016


keyon gaskin_its not a thing_photo by Robert Duncan Gray“American Realness, in its seventh edition, is one of the busiest. Highlights include a wave of Realness newcomers — Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, Keyon Gaskin, Mette Ingvartsen and many others — as well as premieres by familiar faces like Jillian Peña and Yvonne Meier. If you missed Larissa Velez Jackson’s “Star Crap Method” or Milka Djordjevich’s “Mass” in 2015, now’s your chance to catch up.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published December 2015


27REALNESS2-articleLarge“These days, following contemporary dance is a little like digging for treasure in a junkyard.”
Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published December 2015


American Realness Profile pic“AMERICAN REALNESS, hosted at Abrons Arts Center, usually presents the widest array of forward-thinking experimental performance and brings theater and dance into the intimate proximity they deserve”
Miriam Felton-Dansky, The Village Voice, Published December 2015


SaraSheltonMann_RobbieSweeny_HorizontalCrop“This feast of contemporary performance returns to Abrons Arts Center for a seventh year, Jan. 7-17.”
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published September 2015




unnamed-1“If I could watch this performance twenty times I would. Jibz Cameron’s character Dynasty Handbag plays the role of a migrant ego trudging through the insides of her own body to examine her deep-seated depression. Every stereotype about artists, lesbians and contemporary life gets skewered.”
Paddy Johnson, The Best 25 Shows of 2015, Art F City, Published December 2015


12_MichelleEllsworth_PreparationForTheOb_MichelleEllsworth“The artist Michelle Ellsworth churns out surprises, from coin-operated choreography to implausible science experiments. New York was treated to her smart, singular zaniness twice this year, at the American Realness festival”
- Siobhan Burke, The Best of Dance 2015, The New York Times, Published December 2015


“Twenty-two shows in twelve days, and almost all of them strong in parts or whole: Against all odds, or maybe in some unsavory yet exciting ways related to those odds, there is a wealth of vital, progressive, deeply valuable performance being made in America.”
- Claudia La Rocco, Artforum, Published January, 2015


“The American Realness Festival, in its sixth year and now firmly established in the January festival firmament, continues to stand at the gritty edge of contemporary dance. Miguel Gutierrez and Jack Ferver are two artists who use themselves as mirrors, and in their works for this year’s festival, each dug deeply into fears of aging and death, balanced against the sustenance of relationships.”
- Martha Sherman, danceviewtimes, Published January, 2015


“In “OTRO TEATRO: The Pleasure Project,” presented as part of the American Realness Festival, there is no beginning or end, and the space is filled with strange sounds and mottled light. The movement oozes, without boundaries or rules. Everything feels alive, and a little scary.”
- Martha Sherman, danceviewtimes, Published January, 2015


“In “One with Others,” Sherman and her collaborators, Aaron Mattocks and Joanna Furnans, leaned on props of metal and wood, text and external triggers to create a work that was not about things, but about selves.”
- Martha Sherman, danceviewtimes, Published January, 2015


“Hopkins’s show made a strong case for artists to stay in control of their dreams, even if that sometimes means walking away.”
- Nicole Serratore, American Theatre, Published January, 2015


“Gutierrez is like the Louie of performance art; he’s absolutely self-deprecating, sometimes tediously so, but sometimes that depression resolves itself in a well-played joke. And though self-doubt constantly features throughout the performance, he keeps his head above water because of his longtime collaborators.”
- Corinna Kirsch, ARTFCITY, Published January, 2015


“Wade’s clown could benefit personally from hanging out with Handbag, but both characters provide deep and unavoidable truths about different facets of anxiety. Depending on where you are in your head, both embody a spot-on depiction of the experience of forging a creative life in a crazy world. Tellingly, both seemed to resonate with their audiences.”
- Whitney Kimball, ARTFCITY, Published January, 2015


“Take a look at these images of choreographer Jack Ferver’s latest dance-theater work, Night Light Bright Light.” (slide show)
- Gia Kourlas, Time Out New York, Published January, 2015


“This leads us to the real question: is any of it sex? Is Dimchev discussing sex, or is he using its complex and treacherous emotional baggage as a metaphor?”
- Julius Ferraro, phindie, Published January, 2015


“The piece tells the story of Ivo Dimchev’s negotiations with a festival director and staff in Copenhagen, all of which devolve into power plays driven by sexual desire. It is an absurd and abject comedy that sits somewhere between total chronophobia and complete brilliance.”
- Paddy Johnson, ARTFCITY, Published January, 2015


“Look around, here at the festival-orgy season, and all is not fun and games. A certain mood of despair has soaked into the work itself—at least at Abrons Arts Center, where American Realness played host to Cynthia Hopkins’s A Living Documentary.”
- Helen Shaw, Time Out New York, Published January, 2015


“The contrasts throughout are striking. Gutierrez can sit on the floor and talk to us as if we were friends to whom he wanted to explain something (I can’t quote him reliably, but I was moved); the next minute he’s racing crazily around, while Mahar gives a good imitation of dying.”
- Deborah Jowitt, DanceBeat, Published January, 2015


“Ferver ends the nearly hour-long show with a video that gets to the heart of what his work is all about, combining extreme highs and devastating lows in riotous yet heartbreaking ways that will have some people in stitches, others praying that it ends quickly. Fortunately, there seems to be no end to Ferver’s unique brand of creativity.”
- Mark Rifkin, This Week in New York, Published January, 2015


“So far, a mix of blow jobs, spray blood, DIY aesthetics, and self-referential institutional critique have defined this year’s performance festival American Realness.”
- Paddy Johnson, ARTFCITY, Published January, 2015


“Segade was telling me about some of the challenges the 15-year-old art group are facing transforming their take on Bertolt Brecht’s The Mother (shown last year as part of the Whitney Biennial) from a gallery-style performance piece to one designed for Abrons Arts Center’s Experimental Theater, where it plays this week as part of the 2015 American Realness program. ”
- Jeremy Barker, Culturebot, Published January, 2015


“Jack Ferver’s duet with Reid Bartelme, Night Light Bright Light–an American Realness presentation at Abrons Arts Center–runs faster than you can and will leave you panting.”
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, Published January, 2015


“There’s a lot of pleasure to be had in Otro Teatro: The Pleasure Project, the culmination of luciana achugar’s three-month exploration of public intervention, individual and collective ritualized movement, and the relationship between performer and spectator. ”
- Mark Rifkin, This Week in New York, Published January, 2015


“True, transgressions, conceptual boldness, and an element of adventure are to be found at American Realness.”
- Tom Sellar, The Village Voice, Published January, 2015


“For a festival sometimes disparaged as an insider affair, this is going all out. But you don’t have to be interested in Mr. Pryor and Mr. Gutierrez to find the performance intermittently effective and affecting. ”
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“As part of the American Realness festival, two very different shows — Michelle Ellsworth’s cheerfully wacky “Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome” and a much darker work by Jeremy Wade with an obscenity in its title — grappled with disappearance, decline and the thin line between being here and being gone.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“The courtly framework and flourishes of Undersweet do not so much imprison desire as press grapes for wine.”
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, Published January, 2015


“For those who think American Realness 2015, a festival of dance and performance, is about promoting one kind of art, two recent shows, seen Friday at Abrons Arts Center, presented two sides of contemporary choreography.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“Why do the best things in life last so briefly while we must endure the likes of social injustice and bad performance? A better question: How soon can someone bring The Ballez (and sexy) back?”
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, Published January, 2015


“Dancer Keith Hennessy takes on The Rite of Spring: ‘Am I a teddy bear, or am I a person in a bear outfit?’ In Bear/Skin, choreographer Keith Hennessy takes on paganism and The Rite of Spring”
- Gia Kourlas, Time Out New York, Published January, 2015


“During the next 10 days, there will be 23 avant-garde productions on three stages from artists aiming to “expose issues and questions around identity, form, ritual, death, history, pop-culture, cooperation and the professionalization of art making.””
- The Lo-Down, Published January, 2015


“Are we on our way to becoming a single-sex species? In “Preparation for the Obsolescence of the Y Chromosome,” the choreographer Michelle Ellsworth considers the possibility, building on her body of jubilantly absurd yet pragmatically minded work.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“A pantheon of smart, subversive artists will be in the building, including Miguel Gutierrez with the next installment of his “Age and Beauty” suite; Liz Santoro with the return of her hypnotic “Relative Collider”; and Keith Hennessy, who annexes Nijinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in his new solo, “Bear/Skin”.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“MOST of us abandon our New Year’s resolutions. But if you vowed to see more live art in 2015, you can start keeping that one right away. A decade ago, January was a performance doldrums. No more.”
- Alexis Soloski, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“The new work, “Night Light Bright Light,” part of American Realness 2015, an adventurous festival of dance and performance beginning on Thursday at the Abrons Arts Center, delves into the human psyche as Mr. Ferver, in his typically unwavering and humorous way, skirts the line between what’s real and what’s not.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“At this festival, the actual abuts the possible and the material bumps up against the intangible”
- Alexis Soloski, The New York Times, Published January, 2015


“Check out our picks for some of the festival’s can’t-miss queer performances, including pieces that look at queer ritual and spectacle, and explorations of the self in relationship to others.”
- Next Magazine, Published December, 2014


KeithHennessy_BearSkin_RobbieSweeny_1-5307“Bear/Skin is an autobiography and it is dance history. It is kid’s play, therapy, ritual, trickery, and it is a dance unto death.”
-, Published December, 2014


CynthiaHopkins_ALivingDocumentary_JeffSugg_002“American Realness has carved out a distinctive identity by bringing choreography and experimentation into play with powerful cultural commentary.”
- Tom Sellar, The Village Voice, Published November, 2014


KeithHennessy_BearSkin_RobbieSweeny_1-7797“After his cantankerous “Turbulence (a dance about the economy)” with its sprawling cast, Mr. Hennessy returns to solo work in this interrogation and appropriation of “The Rite of Spring.””
Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published September, 2014




helix_truscott.jpg“Adrienne Truscott’s …Too Freedom… at Abrons Art Center delightfully confuses audiences by saturating the stage with activities that range from everyday to extraordinary.  By building a set of spatial relations loosely around the parallels between day labor and dance performance, …Too Freedom… playfully provokes the audience into awareness of its own leisure.”
- Buzz Slutzky, Helix Queer Performance Network, Published January, 2014


helix_miguel.jpg“Fleshy Miguel and VHS Miguel enact tonally blasé banter: What are you going to show us today? …We’re kind of hot to find out what it’s like… The exchange is pure innuendo. As it accelerates, the conversation (presumably saturated with sex) turns to language of desperation, desire, and escape…Innuendo quickly gives way to desperation for body-to-body contact.”
- l.n. hafezi, Helix Queer Performance Network, Published January, 2014


helix_medlyn.jpg“Awkward White Guy Neal Medlyn fails to sing, dance, or look like the King of Pop, but “King” is simply not that kind of tribute.  Rather, Medlyn explores the art and persona of Michael Jackson through a series of repetitive but unsuccessful tries… Such an approach presents an unfamiliar angle to Michael Jackson, one that dwells on the scandalous star’s always incomplete public image.”
- Doug Keeler, Helix Queer Performance Network, Published January, 2014


Truscott_DanceEnthusiast.jpg“The wall…is assembled with great care, just as Truscott’s dance is. She and her dancers move with stubborn insistence, a clear desire to see the dance through. They make use of what they have, and inject it with their quirks and personalities. Because that’s what dancers do.”
- Garnet Henderson, The Dance Enthusiast, Published January 22, 2014


nytimes_salamon.jpg“As another recurring phrase goes: “It is not irritating to be where one is. It is only irritating to think one would like to be somewhere else.” In her restless perpetual motion, Ms. Salamon, a Hungarian-born choreographer based in Paris and Berlin, imbued that philosophy with an eerie sense of truth.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January 22, 2014


nytimes_bauer.jpg“The dancing of the three — and especially Ms. Bauer — is wonderfully three-dimensional. It has a through-the-body looseness and segmented precision like that of Trisha Brown or martial arts, combined with a twitchy eccentricity.”
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January 21, 2014


nytimes_bauer.jpg“I begin to notice that, although they are almost never executing the same steps at the same time, they share a common and pleasing vocabulary; they’re just rearranging the order, the directions in space, and the timing to suit them.”
- Deborah Jowitt, Arts Journal, Published January 20, 2014


miguel_hyperallergic_crop.jpg“Miguel Gutierrez’s “myendlesslove” is, as its title suggests, about love — but not just love in a classic, romantic sense. That is there, but in 50 minutes, Gutierrez also touches on love making (aka sex), love of self, and love of youth. He pulls all these themes out of a multi-faceted, if somewhat disjointed, piece whose variations of medium and tone are refreshing.”
- Jillian Steinhauer, The New York Times, Published January 17, 2014


satter_helix_crop.jpg“Tina Satter is an acclaimed experimental playwright whose newest play, “House of Dance,” is returning to Abrons Arts Center from January 9th through 13th, as part of both the American Realness and COIL Festivals.  We talked to her about collaboration, sexism and the suburbs.”
- Dan Fishback, Helix Queer Performance Network, Published January, 2014


r_patek_press.jpg“Art can repackage experiences in any number of ways; this can either shed light on a problem, or it can lend a coat of bullshit gloss. In the case of rape trauma, choreographer Rebecca Patek’s vision is clear.
Her current show ineter(a)nal f/ear… takes a blisteringly satirical look through the various lenses that art can use to frame pain. “
– Whitney Kimball, Art F City, Published January 16, 2014


lounge_crop.jpg“The four festivals are collaborating on a series of free late-night performances by an intriguing range of artists at the Public’s LuEsther Lounge.”
- A.C. Lee, The New York Times, Published January 16, 2014



moriahevans_crop.jpg“Dana Michel’s “Yellow Towel” and Juliana F. May’s “commentary = not thing,” both seen at their first performances last Friday — have been remarkable: peculiar, puzzling, yet compelling and valuable.”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published January 16, 2014


barker_crop.jpg“As they walk, they grapple with one another, smearing sweat off back, hanging off shoulders, reaching forward between the legs to hold on, the order of dancers constantly changing as physical contact allows one to step in front of the other before being pulled back. It was a beautiful, intense, visceral, sexy scene.”
- Jeremy Barker, deeply fascinating, Published January 16, 2014


Boule_danceenthusiast_crop.jpg“In the thrashing, spontaneous dance that follows, the artist sheds all personas. Here is a body that isn’t presenting anything except kinetic energy spilling over. However, the language of dance, the lines and qualities, are still present…Years of training and habit are always there, sometimes rising to the surface and sometimes being pushed below.”
- Garnet Henderson, Dance Enthusiast, Published January 16, 2014


wexler_danceenthusiast_crop.jpg“In their collaboration 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Emily Wexler poke holes in the thin veneer of pop love songs and, more broadly, popular ideas about love. They also remind us that laughing at ourselves is as difficult as it is fun.”
- Garnet Henderson, Dance Enthusiast, Published January 16, 2014


infinitebody_michel.jpg“We’re at American Realness 2014 in the Experimental Theater at Abrons Arts Center, watching a performance called Yellow Towel, a US premiere of a work by a Canadian dance artist.  But it sure seems like we’re trapped in a room with one of those eccentric street people we consider damaged goods and give wide berth.”
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinite Body, Published January 15, 2014


HJWexler90.jpg“Young agent Ben Pryor, on the dance front, started American Realness in 2010 as a showcase for his own clients, and it has since mushroomed into an important vector for all kinds of innovative dance and performance. Among the works dance-fiends will vie to see this January is the premiere of Ishmael Houston-Jones and Emily Wexler’s13 Love Songs, dot dot dot.”
- Helen Shaw, American Theatre, Published January 2014


lunamag_crop.jpg“…being presented in the American Realness festival down at the Abrons Arts Center in Chinatown: WONDER by Michelle Boulé, …Too Freedom… by Adrienne Truscott…, and myendlesslove by Miguel Gutierrez. Both Boulé and Gutierrez happen to teach at my alma mater (The New School) making me wish I’d said fuckit to opera and poetry and gotten crazy in their classes instead. What’s new.”
- Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein, Luna Luna Magazine, Published January 13, 2014


marten90.jpg…economic inequality between the dance and art worlds isn’t likely to go away… the Swedish choreographer Marten Spangberg added another layer to the conversation with “La Substance, but in English,” a four-and-a-half-hour work performed Sunday afternoon as part of the American Realness festival.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published January 13, 2014


InfiniteBody_crop.jpg“A world premiere at American Realness 2014, 13 Love Songs:dot dot dot runs for one hour during which Houston-Jones and Wexler strip romantic love of its seductive disguises and get down to realness. Manic, desperate, childlike, gritty, aggressive, sticky, comic, addictive, ecstatic, visceral realness.”
- Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody, Published January 12, 2014


BenPryor_GAYLETTER_crop.jpg“To many LGBT-identifying people, the word “realness” evokes a very specific image in queer history…creator Ben Pryor has adopted this word to perfectly represent a series of new performance, dance, and art events that repurposes “realness” for a newly growing subset of American and international art.”
- Eric Torres, Gayletter, Published January, 2014


afterhours_crop.jpg“…there are forms of love that are far more sophisticated, and even more erotic, than that romantic love that is dutifully packaged for us in pop songs.”
- Tim Murphy, The New York Times, Published January, 10 2014



danamichel_crop.jpg“There are established names like Miguel Gutierrez, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Neal Medlyn; there are names less known to American audiences, like Marten Spangberg and Eszter Salamon; there are exhibitions (Sarah Maxfield, Ian Douglas, Mr. Medlyn and Fawn Krieger, Ann Liv Young); there are parties; there will be discoveries.”
- Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, Published January, 10, 2014


stagebuddy_press.jpg“Starting this week and ending on the 19th of January, you can head to the Abrons Arts Center for days and nights filled with amazing new pieces by a diverse selection of artists, including three world premieres of work from Ishmael Houston-Jones, Emily Wexler, Marten Spangberg, and Jillian Pena.
- Sam Riedel, Stage Buddy, Published January 10, 2014


jp1_body_crop.jpg“Peña’s work crosses both live performance and video. In her videos, you will often find images of herself multiplied, so that she can question, fight, flirt, and converse with the many differently desiring versions of herself. Polly Pocket brings this premise of the double-multiple-self to live performance … and the result is both enthralling and mystifying.”
- Lauren Bakst, Bomb Magazine, Published January, 2014


IHJ3.jpg“As the name suggests, all performers are striving for “realness,” which means you might encounter lots of genitalia, and confronting ideas. Thank god that’s the case – we’ve seen more than enough boring performance art.”
- Gayletter, Published January, 2014


patek_crop.jpg“Rebecca Patek is an acclaimed experimental playwright whose newest piece, “ineter(a)nal f/ear,” is coming to Abrons Arts Center…We talked with her about weirdos, money and dicks.”
- Dan Fishback, Helix Queer Performance Network, Published January 2014


IHJ2_crop.jpg“American Realness has something new up its sleeve: premieres. One anticipated collaboration is Ishmael Houston-Jones and Emily Wexler’s 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot, in which the pair delves into the rawness of longing and heartbreak.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New Yorker, Published January 6, 2014


2014_Ish_Crop.jpg“In the new piece “13 Love Songs, Dot Dot Dot,” the veteran downtown performer and cultural commentator Ishmael Houston-Jones teams up with the younger choreographer Emily Wexler to create a satire on the corrosive sentimentality of pop.”
- The New Yorker, Published January 5, 2014


HOD05©THEY_bklyn-Website“The American Realness Festival was born five years ago as a counterpoint to the sometimes chaotic, often staid arts marketplace that is the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference, where arts leaders shop for American dance. It’s a must see for the savvy dance explorer. ”
- Brian Schaefer, The New York Times, Published January 2, 2014


http://amerftbd_egj_FINAL_front_no text copy Best of Dance, 2013: Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor “First, he created the American Realness festival; then, over the summer, he initiated Festival TBD: Emergency Glitter, which placed the spotlight on a younger generation of artists. Pryor is giving contemporary dance a home.”
- Gia Kourlas, Time Out New York, Published December 31, 2013“This performance fest is only five years old, but enormously self-assured, and its mix of cutting-edge dance and interdisciplinary work lures dance-hungry audiences to the Lower East Side. This is definitely the cool kid in the bunch, so dress accordingly.”
- Helen Shaw, Time Out New York, Published December 3, 2013


MichelleBoule_WONDER_Wah-MingChang_019“Plans are still under way for Ben Pryor’s fifth annual festival of contemporary performance at Abrons Arts Center, but if it’s anything like past years, we can expect 11 days packed with smart, strong-minded artists who aren’t afraid of making a mess.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, September 7, 2013




2014_Ish_Crop.jpgFour years later, AR has emerged as a leading venue for some of the most exciting work in American dance, making it an ideal site at which to consider the relationship between contemporary dance and the still incredibly powerful twentiethcentury modern/postmodern dance canon.”
- Theatre Journal, Published December, 2013


Antigone2_Crop“The Approval Matrix: Our deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies. Highbrow: Trajal Harrel’s Raucous vogue-ball retelling of Antigone at Abrons Arts Center”
- The New York Magazine, Published January 28, 2013


SuperNature2_Crop.jpg “Super Nature was not particularly focused on choreography in the conventional sense of the word, or on virtuosic dancing – though there is a great deal of talent on display here – rather, it is a research project investigating group dynamics, hereditary traits and organic movement qualities.“
- Ivan Talijancic, bachtrack, Published January 22, 2013


StoringTheWinter_Crop.jpg“The American Realness festival, which ended on Sunday, was in many ways not just a demonstration but also a celebration of the alternative and unorthodox.”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published January 22, 2013



“It was the time of year when the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, APAP, invades the City and every choreographer and dancer decides to put on a show for the invaders… I hung out mostly at Ben Pryor’s fourth installment of his American Realness Festival housed at the Abrons Arts Center.”
- Ishmael Houston-Jones, loveDANCEmore, Published January 20, 2013


NealMedlyn_Crop.jpg “It’s real, it’s American, and it’s dance. For the fourth consecutive year, this cutting-edge dance festival pushes the boundaries of the art form. This year’s edition focuses on the relationship between music and dance through collaborations with composers.”
- Gotham, Published January 18, 2013


Inging_Crop.jpg “But what would it be like to speak without stopping for many minutes? Jeanine Durning knows. Since 2010, she has performed a solo called “inging,” and she presented it at Abrons Arts Center recently, as part of the “American Realness” series.”
- Andrew Boynton, The New Yorker, Published January 17, 2013


MaybeNakedArticle_Crop.jpg “American Realness 2013 has included multiple examples of same-sex coupling, drag and camp. Performers often sing and talk as well as move. Dancing is often barefoot. Complete nakedness is not unusual. Body types vary from skinny to rotund. Technique ranges from virtuoso to clumsy (with some interesting overlaps).”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published January 17, 2013


HCultureBytes_Crop.jpg “ … these simultaneous contemporary art events, involving fuzzy edges and considerations surrounding where and when the performance ends, as well as who is performing, make for an alive and loaded festival environment with loose boundaries and a multitude of possibilities.”
- Julie Potter, CultureBytes, Published January 15, 2013


ThePerformanceClub_Crop.jpg “I think that some dances are more inging than others. Tere O’Connor’s poem is one of the inging-est dances I’ve ever seen. What I mean is, when you watch it, you feel as if you’re in it; not outside looking in, but swimming around inside of what he has called an“agreed-upon hallucination.””
- Siobhan Burke, The Performance Club, Published January 14, 2013


GreekTragedyArticle_Crop.png “For me, American Realness 2013 — which continues through Sunday, principally at the Abrons Arts Center — is full of second chances. Several of the works and artists it presents are ones easy to miss during the larger rush of the dance year.”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published January 14, 2013


SheerPower_Crop.jpg “If you want an insider’s sampler of boundary-pushing performance in New York, look no further. Among the panels, parties, and presentations of works in progress are several notable repeat stagings…”
- The New Yorker, Published January 14, 2013


“Seeing SHOW this afternoon, at Abrons where it’s part of American Realness (you have one more shot tomorrow to see it), I was reminded why I like [Maria Hassabi’s work] so much: The sheer physical intensity of her presence.”
- Jeremy M. Barker, CultureBytes, Published January 13, 2013


Next_Crop.jpg “Let’s get real, it takes bravery and balls to push performance so far beyond mainstream conventions that it defies categories. American Realness … is launching it’s fourth year of iconoclast works by dance-theatre-music and everything in-between artists.”
- Paul Leopold & Mark Dommu, NEXT Magazine, Published January 11, 2013


TerePoem_Crop.jpg “The anticipation surrounding this festival seems to grow every year, and for good reason. Since 2010, the industrious curator Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor has been transforming the Abrons Arts Center into a nexus of smart, cutting-edge performance.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January 3, 2013


AllTheFizz_Crop.jpg “Least predictable of all is the work being done in experimental dance, and for just that reason, I look forward especially to the American Realness season…”
- Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times, Published December 27, 2012



SuperNature_Crop.jpg “BodyCartography’s Super Nature [uses] scale and undifferentiated space, casting as choreographic choice, new works as antidotes to past works, challenging the value of reinvention/newness, and “sensory deliciousness.””
- BodyCartography in conversation with HIJACK, critical correspondence, Published November 27, 2012


TH_Antigone_Crop.png“AMERICAN REALNESS As the annual conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) descends on New York, this 10-day festival promises to emerge, once again, as a stronghold of forward-thinking, category-defying performance.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published September 6, 2012




GimmeShelter_Crop.jpg“A number of festivals and venues showcased dance, theater and performance at venues throughout the city, the idea being that international presenters would swoop down on the shiny things they saw and bring them to their own institutions.”
- Marissa Perel, art:21, Published February 2, 2012



BrooklynRail_Crop.jpg“Whether fascinating or frustrating (or both), whether blasting through ordinariness or committing whole-heartedly to the mundane, each performance only fueled my appetite for another. Together, they conversed with and complemented each other: a series of interconnected adventures.”
- Siobhan Burke, The Brooklyn Rail, Published February 2012


PerformanceAnxiety_Crop.jpg““It’s a little easier this week,” an exhausted-looking Ben Pryor said when asked how he was weathering the second half of his American Realness festival…now he had a new problem: filling his houses with audience members who…were now spending more time questioning their sanity than actually, you know, paying attention to art.”
- Claudia La Rocco, ARTFORUM, Published January 21, 2012


WaywardChildren_Crop.jpg“During his contribution to a shared evening as part of the American Realness festival at the Abrons Arts Center on Sunday, the choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones took on animal cruelty, bondage, teenage murderers and Satan worship.”
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January 16, 2012



TryingtoDivine_Crop.jpg“Ms. Lacey wished for a future in which dance did not have to justify itself and could behave “like a really old lady.”
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January 15, 2012



UhUhUh_Crop.jpg“Keith Hennessy was quaking in his underwear, wobbling atop a tall stack of foam blocks when he said,“I’m doing this on purpose.” … A moment before, having ad-libbed his way into that precarious position, he had said, dryly, “There’s a load of possibilities here.””
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January 13, 2012


FairyTalePrincess_Crop.jpg“…where Ms. Young’s “Sleeping Beauty Part I” was being performed as part of [American Realness], the accoutrements included two undecorated Christmas trees, a doll’s bed, several canisters of glitter, a pair of scissors, a phone, a water bottle, a punch bowl fountain and a pinktoilet with pink-tinged toilet paper.”
- Brian Seibert, The New York Times, Published January 13, 2012


JuxtaposingMovement_Crop.jpg “Even though “Not About Everything” generated a similarly grating, forthright innocence, it fared better at Abrons, where Mr. Linehan’s disorientation was enhance by the proximity of the audience.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published January 12, 2012



BowdlerisedPunk_Crop.jpg“Young impresario Ben Pryor has taken the obvious next step from festive mood to straight-out festival. In its third season, American Realness presents productions day and night for 10 days (until January 15)… best of all it lays out an aesthetic.”
- Apollinaire Scherr, The Financial Times, Published January 10, 2012


WeekAhead_Crop.jpg“What does contemporary American performance look like? One very compelling answer can be found at Ben Pryor’s AMERICAN REALNESS festival”
- Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, Published January 6, 2012




“Where to begin with the thoroughly enticing lineup for this festival, which packs 46 performance (and exhibitions, discussions and late-night revelry) into 10 days? If you stop by Abrons Arts Center…chances are you’ll stumble into something delicious, delirious and difficult to describe.”
- Siobhan Burke, The New York Times, Published January 5, 2012



Highlights in American Realness include a new piece about climate change by Cynthia Hopkins, who specializes in genre-defying autobiographical work, and “Broke House,” a spin on Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” by the flashy popart troupe Big Art Group.”
- Jason Zinoman, The New York Times, Published January 3, 2012


ThisWeekAhead_Crop.jpg“Start the dance year with a bracing palate cleanser, AMERICAN REALNESS, a festival that opens its third edition at the Abrons Center on Thursday. But be warned: It is not a festival for wimps. “
- Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, Published January 1, 2012


BestandWorse_Crop.jpg“Tool Is Loot (best) This collaboration between Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey—with Jonathan Bepler’s odd, whimsical score—incorporated strangers’ feedback, from the mundane to the profound, to show their inimitable, transfixing gifts as performers.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published December 15, 2011


Mimosa_Crop.jpg“In (M)imosa, the medium-size version of Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (also available in extra-small, small, large and extra-large), the choreographer enlisted Cecilia Bengolea, François Chaignaud and Marlene Monteiro Freitas for a wondrous, wild trip into the cult of personality and performance.”
- Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Published December 15, 2011


ArtForumBest_Crop.jpg“Jeremy Wade, Fountain (Danspace Project, New York, October 6–8, 2011) “Is he serious?” was the question that seemed to plague Wade’s hysterical participatory exercise. But our uncertainty was also testament to his virtuosic command of the madman/shaman vibe.”
- David Velasco, Artforum, Published December, 2011





PerformanceArtCanJust_Crop.jpg“This particular way of becoming more human, of challenging the conventions of performance (specifically in a dance context), is almost overwhelmingly popular among a certain set these days. The technique itself now has the potential to objectify a performance; still, the transformative promise of confessional language remains.
- Patricia Milder, The Brooklyn Rail, Published February 4, 2011


GutierrezRichSprawling_Crop.jpg“Gutierrez’s rich, sprawling solo Heavens What Have I Done was part of Ben Pryor’s American Realness… “If you’re an artist, you have pieces you apply to grants with—the official pieces,” Gutierrez said later that day, during a performance of Heavens at Abrons Arts Center. “This is not one of those pieces.””
- Claudia La Rocco, ARTFORUM, Published January 14, 2011


With2010Behind_Crop.jpg“I was lucky enough to see Ishmael Houston-Jones’s “Them” when the 1986 work was revived at Performance Space 122 in October. It’s back as a co-presentation of Coil and American Realness, and I might just have to see it again. Works this good — this necessary — don’t come around very often, let alone twice in one year.”
- Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, Published January 7, 2011


AmericanRealnessLastMinute_Crop.jpg“American Realness…collected some of New York’s–and a selection from around the country–best or most interesting choreographers and related performance artists. And this year, I can’t help but agree with my friends’ assessment: American Realness has one of the tightest line-ups around.”
- Jeremy M. Barker, Culturebot, Published January 8, 2011


Friday-through-Monday_Crop.jpg“American Realness (Friday through Monday) This new festival started up last year as an alternative to the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ January showcase, and it has already garnered a reputation for dance and performance work that is more, shall we say, risky than its august peer’s.”
- Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times, Published January 6, 2011


AhAPAP_Crop“The five-day fest includes Keith Hennessy in CROTCH; a dance sampler with Miguel Gutierrez, Kyle Abraham, and Faye Driscoll; Neal Medlyn’s second part to his Miley Cyrus chronicle, Brave New Girl; and controversial rabble-rouser Ann Liv Young in Mermaid Solo, a new piece retelling her life story—as a mermaid.”
- Sharyn Jackson, The Village Voice, Published January 5, 2011


Tarek_Crop.jpg“I feel that what he is doing and the artists and their work shown, are a crucial presence as we, the young and seeking dance community push forward … For so long “Modern Dance” has been the definition of American Dance. American Realness is an attempt to shift that. It is a wake-up call/call to action.”
- Ben Rasmussen, Dance NYC, Published January 1, 2011


AmericanRealnessthursday_Crop.jpg“Jen Rosenblit’s “salivate if you could” begins, as she says, “from the body as a wet, fragrant and devastating site,” and Larissa Velez-Jackson’s “Making Ends Meet” confronts “fear of failure, death and cultural irrelevance.”
- The New York Times, Published December 30, 2010



IFeelThatWhatHeIsDoing_Crop.jpg“This upstart festival, which made a case for the cultural importance of dance and performance work…was started not by a theater or consortium of industry insiders, but by a lone 28-year-old dynamo, armed with only a laptop, gamine good looks and seemingly inexhaustible energy reserves: Thomas Benjamin Snapp Pryor.”
- Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, Published December 30, 2010


2011_NewLuciana_Crop.jpg“The best…
Luciana Achugar: Puro Deseo, a duet with longtime collaborator Michael Mahalchick; Ishmael Houston-Jones: The choreographer returned to P.S. 122 with musician Chris Cochrane and writer Dennis Cooper to stage the revival of Them…”
- Gia Kourlas, Time Out New York, Published December 17, 2010



“I think of oft-overlooked innovators from the 1980s, like Ishmael Houston-Jones, whose “Them,” restaged in October at Performance Space 122, was one of the most powerful works I’ve seen in years.”
- Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, Published December 16, 2010




“AMERICAN REALNESS Ben Pryor’s spunky, smart festival made a splash last year, its first, announcing itself with a rich variety of contemporary performance and standing out among the sampler madness with its carefully selected lineup.”
- Claudia La Rocco, The New York Times, Published September 10, 2010



Them2_Crop.jpg“Best Revival: A tie between Ishmael Houston-Jones’ Them and John Kelly’s Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte”
- Tom Murrin, Papermag, Published December 23, 2010



Them1_Crop.jpg“From now on, whenever a dancer wrestles with a dead goat onstage, you can remember to blame Ishmael Houston-Jones, who gave everyone license to wrestle with a dead goat with THEM in 1986. Unabashedly gay and gritty, this cathartic restaging gave everyone something to talk about”
- Dave Velasco, Art Forum, Published December 23, 2010




2010_1_crop.jpg“1. “American Realness” (Abrons Arts Center, New York, January 8–10, 2010) All the legendary children of the New York dance world served up over one crash-course weekend intensive: Miguel Gutierrez, Jack Ferver, Trajal Harrell, and don’t forget Ann Liv Young, whose fraught “Sherry” performances were utterly nonpareil.”
- Dave Velasco, Art Forum, Published December 23, 2010


BowdlerisedPunk_Crop.jpg“Pryor’s challenging festival, featuring eight artists at the Abrons Arts Center, included Last Meadow, Miguel Gutierrez’s powerful dance-theater interrogation of American culture, and another ribald “solo” by the polarizing performance artist Ann Liv Young.”
- Claudia La Rocco, Stage Struck, Published January 18, 2010


2010_3_Crop.jpg“While the term realness comes from the LGBT community, where it pertains to one’s ability to pass as the opposite gender, it was expanded here to apply broadly to life and creating. Who knows, maybe it will become an “ism” for a some of the performance that’s currently being done in the US that defies categorization”
- Susan Yung, Thirteen, Published January 13, 2010


2010_4_Crop.jpg“For those of you on the prowl for a ultra particular festival, check out the brand new American Realness contemporary dance happenings this weekend, held mainly at the Abrons Arts Center (a new, stealth force for presenting challenging work).”
- Claudia La Rocco, WNYC, Published January 13, 2010


2010_4_Crop.jpg“For those of you on the prowl for a ultra particular festival, check out the brand new American Realness contemporary dance happenings this weekend, held mainly at the Abrons Arts Center (a new, stealth force for presenting challenging work).”
- Claudia La Rocco, WNYC, Published January 13, 2010



But one man is about to take up the torch of what often feels as much like a social cause as it does an artistic industry.

- Ryan Tracy, Counter Critic, Published January 6, 2010