Mass MoCA installation embraces new solo dance work

NORTH ADAMS — Choreographer, writer, actress, and New York Dance and Performance ("Bessie") Award recipient Okwui Okpokwasili will perform a new solo work Friday evening at Mass MoCA.

Created in response to Nick Cave's exhibition "Until," the piece will be performed in the massive installation beginning at 8 p.m.

The program is a co-presentation of Mass MoCA and Jacob's Pillow and is the second venture of this kind within a month. In early March, Bill T. Jones also performed a new solo piece in Cave's work.

"When I first heard about Nick Cave taking over Building 5 with "Until," I immediately thought of Bill and what it would be like to have him perform in that world," Jacob's Pillow director Pamela Tatge says in a news release. "I'm also excited to introduce Berkshire audiences to Okwui Okpokwasili, and her stunning movement and text-based work."

In partnership with collaborator Peter Born, Okpokwasili creates multidisciplinary projects that are raw, intimate experiences. As a performer, Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with director and choreographer Ralph Lemon, including "Come Home, Charley Patton" (2006), for which she won a "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Performer; "How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere?" (2010), a duet performed at the Museum of Modern Art as part of On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century (2011); and "Scaffold Room" (2014).

Okpokwasili's "pent up: a revenge dance" (2008) premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance "Bessie" Award for Outstanding Production.

Okpokwasili has received awards from The French American Cultural Exchange, a Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography Choreographic Fellowship (2012), a New York Foundation for the Arts' Fellowship in Choreography (2013), and was an artist-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.

In "Until" Cave addresses issues of gun violence, gun control policy, race relations, and gender politics in today's America. Sprawling throughout the massive Building 5 space, the exhibition comprises 16,000 wind spinners; millions of plastic pony beads; thousands of ceramic birds, fruits, and animals; 13 gilded pigs; more than 10 miles of crystals; 24 chandeliers; 1 crocodile; and 17 cast-iron lawn jockeys.

The exhibition is intended as both art and stage. Dancers, singer-songwriters, pop artists, poets, and composers of world renown have been invited to perform in the space, which has welcomed and continues to host community events, including panel discussions, forums, theater, music making, and other forms of creative public debate and engagement.

Based in Chicago, Cave is an American fabric sculptor, dancer, performance artist, and director of the graduate fashion program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He regularly performs in the sculptures himself, and works with choreographers, dancers, and amateur performers to produce lavish community celebrations in untraditional venues for art.


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