Nichole Canuso’s The Garden of Forking Paths is an interactive dance experience for six people at a time. Oscillating between viewer and participant, audience members are immersed in the texture of the performance, at times becoming the center of the experience, at others blending into the ensemble and then viewing the action from a distance.
The Garden is a movement and sound installation that leads audience members via audio prompts on a headset through a sprawling fabric labyrinth in the Bok building in South Philadelphia. The Bok, a former school built in the Art Deco style, inspired Nichole Canuso Dance Company to create an experience that engages with its unique architecture and with the South Philadelphia neighborhood in which it is situated.
The original version premiered in Old City Philadelphia at Power Plant productions in 2013. Influenced by the surrounding neighborhood, the audio tracks for this new version have been translated to Spanish and Cambodian (Khmer). This was done by working closely with neighborhood associations, professional translators, and a group of students from the school across the street from the Bok, the Southwark school, who served as assistant translators. These students will also be performers in The Garden of Forking Paths. The project also includes audio interviews with residents from the surrounding neighborhoods that can be heard in specific moments in the experience.
This piece was originally inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and The Luis Borges short story The Garden of Forking Paths. After its debut in Old City Philadelphia, the project toured as a shortened version to Saratoga Springs NY, American Repertory Theater / Harvard University MA and The Clarice at University of Maryland.
The Garden of Forking Paths will be performed at The Bok Building in south Philadelphia Wednesday, May 10th through Saturday, June 17th, with showings at 6pm, 7:15pm and 8:30pm every Wednesday through Saturday, and on Sunday. The Bok Building is located at 1901 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148. For tickets visit www.nicholecanusodance.org
– Conceived, written and directed by Nichole Canuso
– Choreographed by Nichole Canuso in collaboration with the ensemble Composers & sound designers: Michael Kiley, James Sugg
– Performers: Nichole Canuso, Eun Jung Choi, Jenny Huynh, Anita Koy, Jenson Titus Lavallee, Scott McPheeters, Rhonda Moore, Chanina Nugroho, KimLynn Nguyen, Guillermo Ortega, Irene Sanchez, Alexson Sok, Annie Wilson, Andalyn Young
– Contributing writers: Jackie Sibblies Drury, Anna McDonald Set design: Anna Kiraly
– Lighting design: Masha Tsimring
– Costume design: Rebecca Kanach and Tara Webb Prop design: Emily Schuman
– Production manager: Robin Stamey Stage manager: Elaina DiMonaco Outreach Coordinator: Lanica Angpak
– Assistant Outreach and Youth Coordinator: Cecilia Valadez
– Translators: Jose Guillermo Ortega Tanus, Angkeakeo Hak, Cecilia Valadez
– Voices in Recordings: Ana Acosta, Deborah Block, Nichole Canuso, Emmanuelle Delpech, David Disbrow, Camill Fernandez, Elba Hevia y Vaca, Makoto Hirano, Simon Canuso Kiley, Michael Kiley, Anita Koy, Putery Long, John Luna, Julianna Mendez, Houn Nhan, Derick Sananikone, Irene Sanchez, Nyta Teap, Sopheaktra Theng, Phorllie Tsen, Drew Tsen, Dito Van Reigersberg, Les Rivera, James Sugg.
Nichole Canuso Dance Company (NCDC) creates performance experiences that embrace of the complexity of the human experience. Utilizing dance, humor, and interactive design, NCDC develops projects at the junction of movement, visual art, and theater.
Past productions include a performance event merging two bodies separated in physical space in a virtual desert dreamscape (Pandæmonium), an immersive performance experience designed for six audiences at a time (The Garden), a hybrid of dance installation and cinema viewable from multiple perspectives (TAKES), and a roaming performance that fills the halls and stairways of an historic building (Wandering Alice). Since its inception in 2004, NCDC has been committed to exploring projects that value and challenge the viewers experience and bring dance out of conventional spaces.
NCDC has been awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the Leeway Foundation, the Independence Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Haas B Trust, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.