P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2004
April 1, 2004
Brown Butterfly Returns to MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Mass.) Marlies Yearby, celebrated choreographer of RENT, composer Craig Harris, and video artist Jonas Goldstein have collaborated on Brown Butterfly, a dance inspired by the movement and based on the life of Muhammad Ali. Originally presented as an early work-in-progress at MASS MoCA two years ago, Brown Butterfly returns in its final form on Saturday, May 1, at 8 P.M. The New York Times described it saying "Music, dance and video imagery combine inseparably to pay tribute to Muhammad Ali and his place in American social history."
Yearby, Harris, and Goldstein each reviewed hours of footage of Ali in action -- training, fighting, and just walking and talking -- to get a feel for his movements and style. Yearby studied boxing with a trainer, in addition to studying footage of Ali, to prepare for choreographing and directing the piece. Jonas Goldstein created a backdrop of video and sound bites of Ali played in rhythm with the music and movement, adding images such as fire symbolizing Ali's fire. Goldstein also included video and sound bites controlled by the live ensemble's drummer.
Craig Harris composed the music for a 12-piece ensemble including Trap Kit, bass and electric guitars, keyboards, a string quartet and brass and woodwind instruments. This wide variety of instruments offers a flexible range of sound from the dark velvety solo viola to roaring percussion and screaming electric guitar. Harris says this gives him the flexibility to write music to "transpose [Ali's] physical language into a rich vibrant notated score, rhythms shadowing his footwork, melodies singing the song of his jab, and harmonies displaying the power of his combinations."
Yearby received a Tony Award nomination, a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination, and a Drama League Award for Best Choreography for her work on Jonathan Larson's RENT. She received an Audelco nomination for Laurie Carlos' and Robbie McCauley's Persimmon Pea and a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award for Lisa Jones' and Alva Rogers' Stained. Her past projects include Sekou Sundiata's Mystery of Love and Carl Hancock Rux's Geneva Cottrell Waiting For The Dog To Die in collaboration with Mabou Mines. She choreographed and directed Singing In The Womb Of Angels and Nadine Mozon's ID Please. Yearby's work has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, the American Dance Festival, National Performance Network, Jacob's Pillow, and Performance Space 122, among others.
Composer Craig Harris began playing trombone at age 10 and continued his studies at SUNY Old Westbury. Since 1978 Harris has been performing throughout the Americas, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. He has performed on Broadway with Lena Horne and was a featured performer in the American Music Theater production of Mystery of Love. Harris has led ensembles including Tailgater's Tales, Cold Sweat, and Nation of Imagination and is a founding member of Slide Ride. His awards include two Audelco awards. Harris often leads workshops for young people and has worked as the music curator for the American Center in Paris and the Firewall Arts Festival in New York and was composer/ performer in Roots Expansion at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Jonas Goldstein was schooled in traditional visual arts at the Interlochen Center for the Arts where he studied sculpture under the direction of Eric Oberg and worked with Frank Gaylord on the Korean War Memorial in D.C. Goldstein was awarded the Waddell Sculpture Fellowship to study with master sculptor John Henry Waddell. He also studied with Mary Frank and Mags Harries before going to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where he first began experimenting with video and computers. He was awarded a Fifth Year Fellowship in Filmmaking, and his first short film Tranquility Base was shown at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Goldstein joined the fledgling Pseudo Programs Inc., the world's first internet-only television station, as creative director responsible for establishing a new model for television programming which reflected the flexibility of the Internet as a new medium.
MASS MoCA's Main Stage series is sponsored by the Valley Advocate. Brown Butterfly is co-presented with the Williams College Dance Department. Partial funding comes from National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and with additional funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Altria Group, Inc.
Tickets for Brown Butterfly are $25.50 for orchestra seating, $21.50 for mezzanine, or $17 for students with ID. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org. MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release