Curated by Doug Varone
PEGGY BAKER’S FIRST NEW YORK APPEARANCE IN 12 YEARS, FEB 24-26
Friday, Feb 24 at 8pm
Saturday, Feb 25 at 8 pm
Sunday, Feb 26 at 3 pm
New York, NY: January 20—Canadian modern dance giant Peggy Baker performs for the second week of 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Festival, February 24-26. Known for choreographing a powerful series of solos with her company, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Baker has recently taken on the challenge of creating small ensemble dances, and 92Y’s Festival marks the first time she has shown an ensemble work outside of her home base in Toronto. It’s also the first time in 12 years she’s shown her work in New York. Throughout the 1980s, Baker danced with New York’s Lar Lubovitch, who is featured during the first week of 92Y’s Festival. Baker was also an inaugural member of the White Oak Dance Project with Mark Morris and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1990.
Baker’s Festival program reflects her artistic career. She leads off with armour, a duet choreographed by Baker’s longtime friend and colleague, and the curator of this year’s Festival, Doug Varone. It was originally part of his dance Dense Terrain; he offered the duet to Baker and gave his blessing for her to commission new music from electro-acoustic composer Debashis Sinha. To Baker, this is typical of Varone’s generosity, and she speaks warmly about his support for other artists. Portal, Baker’s second work on the program, is a solo that she says “introduces me in my most essential form to an audience.” And the final piece, 2010’s coalesce, is the first work she choreographed for a group.
Baker is particularly thrilled with the format Doug Varone devised for this year’s Festival – “Stripped/Dressed.” The “Stripped” portion of the program gives the audience a sense of what it’s like to be in the studio as a dance is created – the choreographer and dancers show how the dance developed from an initial idea, without theatrical lighting or costumes. After an intermission, the audience sees the work “dressed” with costumes and lights. “This is just a brilliant, brilliant construction of Doug’s,” Baker says. The audience gets “to see the dancers in the world they know the very best – the creative world of development. It’s just thrilling to have a chance to bring both sides of a work to the same audience in the same evening.”
Baker’s program lends itself well to this arrangement, since coalesce and armour are companion pieces of a sort. During the “Stripped” portion of the performance, Baker will explain how she came to create coalesce and how it relates both to the best-selling science classic Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas and to the Varone dance on her program, armour. And she’ll explain how photographs of lotus blossoms and images by Diane Arbus shaped the creation of Portal.
For Baker, dance gives people a chance to “regard the human body in its totality. One of the great gifts offered by contemporary dance is the invitation to feast our eyes on the vivid and nuanced physical life of the dancers,” she says. Now, for the first time in 12 years, New Yorkers finally get to “feast their eyes” again on Baker and her choreography at 92Y’s Harkness Dance Festival.
About Peggy Baker
Peggy Baker is acclaimed as one of the most outstanding and influential contemporary dancers of her generation. Born in Edmonton, Canada in 1952, Baker began her professional career in Toronto, in 1974, as a founding member, and later artistic director, of Dancemakers. She toured internationally as a prominent member of Lar Lubovitch’s celebrated New York company throughout the eighties and joined Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris for the inaugural season of their White Oak Dance Project in 1990, subsequently forging important creative relationships with Montreal’s Paul-André Fortier, Toronto’s James Kudelka, and New York’s Doug Varone through numerous performance projects. Ms. Baker made her debut as a solo artist in 1990, her work distinguished from the outset by collaborations with extraordinary creators and performers including Sarah Chase, Molissa Fenley, Michael J. Baker, Chan Ka Nin, Ahmed Hassan, Christos Hatzis, Debashis Sinha, Margie Gillis, Larry Hahn, Daniel Brooks, Ina Levitsky, Janet Morton, Caroline O’Brien, Marc Parent, Kurt Swinghammer, Jane Townsend, Peter Vogel; the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste, and pianists John Kameel Farah and Andrew Bursahko. Her concerts have been presented at major festivals and dance centers across North America, Asia and Europe. Ms Baker has been honored with numerous awards including the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009), the 2006 Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, and the 2010 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts. A master teacher, Ms Baker teaches regularly at universities and professional training programs throughout Canada and the U.S. including the Juilliard School, the School at Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival and UC Santa Barbara.
Upcoming and 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival
Fri, Mar 2 & Sat, Mar 3 at 8 pm; Sun, Mar 4 at 3 pm
Fri, Mar 9 & Sat, Mar 10 at 8 pm; Sun, Mar 11 at 3 pm
Fri, Mar 16 & Sat, Mar 17 at 8 pm; Sun, Mar 18 at 3 pm
About 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center
In 1935, what became 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center provided a home to the fledgling American modern dance movement and its leader, Martha Graham. In the decades that followed, every great American dancer and choreographer – visionaries including Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille, Robert Joffrey and Donald McKayle – spent time at the Y, building the foundation for modern dance as we know it. Through the generous support of the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Dance Center continues this proud tradition of dance teaching, creation and performance, serving the professional world and the community at large. Technique classes range from ballet and modern dance to hip-hop and Flamenco. Rounding out the program are several performance programs including the annual 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Festival; a professional development program for dance educators; and several teen dance troupes. For more information, please visit www.92Y.org/dance.
About 92nd Street Y
92nd Street Y is a world-class nonprofit community and cultural center that connects people at every stage of life to the worlds of education, the arts, health and wellness, and Jewish life. Through the breadth and depth of 92Y’s extraordinary programs, we enrich lives, create community and elevate humanity. More than 300,000 people a year visit 92Y’s New York City venues, and millions more join us through the Internet, satellite broadcasts and other digital media. A proudly Jewish organization since its founding in 1874, 92Y embraces its heritage and enthusiastically welcomes people of all backgrounds and perspectives. 92Y is an open door to extraordinary worlds.