The Bryn Mawr College Performing Arts Series will present Abby Z and the New Utility’s abandoned playground, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8, at 8 p.m. in the Hepburn Teaching Theater in Goodhart Hall.
Inside the intimate stadium setup of this work, nine dancers rip through the space performing complex sequences of hyper-physical dance that push their understandings of their own capabilities and endurance. Recognized with the 2017 Juried Bessie Award for her “unique and utterly authentic movement vocabulary in complex and demanding structures,” Abby Zbikowski generates her bold, high-intensity, precisely rhythmic choreography from her background of hip-hop, tap, West African, and postmodern dance styles, deeply-rooted punk aesthetic, and close collaboration with her dancers who bring their specific bodies, psychologies, and training histories to the work. In this evening-length work Zbikowski highlights each of her dancers’ unique strengths and simultaneously forges an intense ensemble connection in that through vocalizations and the channeling of communal energy the dancers invigorate each other to overcome the physical and mental exhaustion of performing such extreme and virtuosic movement at the relentless pace required. Like life, no overstated purpose is given, but as The New York Times dance critic Siobhan Burke surmises “the effort justifies itself.”
Abby Zbikowski is a Juried Bessie Award-winning choreographer, a Caroline Hearst Choreographer-in-Residence at Princeton University, and artistic director of her company, Abby Z and the New Utility. She is assistant professor of dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and faculty member at the American Dance Festival. Her choreographic work with her company, Abby Z and the New Utility, has been presented by the Gibney Dance Center, Movement Research at Danspace Project, and the Abrons Arts Center, where the company had a sold-out run of abandoned playground. Zbikowski has been an Artist-in-Residence as part of the nEW Festival in Philadelphia, the American Dance Festival, and the Bates Dance Festival. She has studied intensively at Germaine Acogny’s L’École de Sables in Senegal and holds a B.F.A. in dance from Temple University and an M.F.A. in dance from Ohio State University, where she worked closely with mentors Bebe Miller and Vickie Blaine. As a performer, Zbikowski has worked with Charles O. Anderson/Dance Theater X, Vincent Mantsoe, and the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. She has been on faculty at Ohio State University and has taught technique and creative process abroad at the Academy of Culture in Riga, Latvia, as part of Global Practice Sharing, sponsored by Movement Research.
Choreography by Abby Zbikowski
Original music by Raphael Xavier
Lighting Design by Jon Harper
Costume Design by Abby Zbikowski and Karen Zbikowski
Performed and created in collaboration with Alexa Bender, Shaela Davis, Justin Faircloth, Ali Herring, Jen Lu, Fiona Lundie, Jennifer Meckley, Evelyn Sanchez Narvaez, and Jessie Young.
Abby Z and the New Utility
Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-8, 8 p.m.
Hepburn Teaching Theater, Bryn Mawr College is located at 150 N. Merion Avenue in Bryn Mawr, PA.
Tickets to individual events are $20, $18 for seniors, $10 for students and members of PhiladelphiaDANCE.org, and $5 for children under 12.
Tickets, subscriptions, group sales, and more information are available online through Brown Paper Tickets, at brynmawr.edu/arts/series.html or by calling 610-526-5210.
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