March 11 & 12 2016
“She’s wonderful, knowing and amused and charismatic . . . She moves beautifully with stunning expressiveness . . . A daunting figure—glamorous, forceful, tough. In language that is by turns blunt and poetic, crudely funny and incantatory, Ms. Okpokwasili conjures and probes this adolescent friendship, a jumble of insults, anger and love.“ The New York Times
“In the popular imagination urban-dwelling, gum-chewing, subway-hopping, loud and independent young brown girls were not the symbol of innocence that I grew up with—I wanted to make an argument for a brown girl innocence, charged and precocious and dreamy.” Okwui Okpokwasili
Enter the private world of a charged relationship between two girls on the verge of adolescence in 1980s outer-borough New York City—where single Newports are bought at the corner bodega, sex-saturated notes are passed in class, and Orchard Beach erupts in flames. Playing at the intersection of dance, theater, and visual art installation, Bronx Gothic draws inspiration from Victorian-era novels and West African griot storytelling to reveal a tale of sexual awakening with humor, love, strangeness, terror—and mesmerizing physicality by a fearless mover.
“Bronx Gothic looks to communicate what is essential about a body in transformation, a universal experience that I can transmit through my brown body as I recall the breakthrough of pubescence and the humor, the love, the strangeness and even the terror that attends it.” Okwui Okpokwasili
Bronx Gothic was co-commissioned by Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and the Jerome Foundation with residency support from Park Avenue Armory’s Under Construction Series, New York Live Arts, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and LMCC’s Extended Life Dance Development program. Additional commissioning support provided by Le Maillon in Strasbourg, Théâtre de Gennevillers in Paris, Théâtre Garonne in Toulouse, and Zagrebacko Kazalište Mladih in Zagreb, as part of PS 122 GLOBAL program.
Bronx Gothic is a recipient of the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project Touring Award, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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“There are people against whom you measure yourself as a person. People who live side-by-side with you during the time when you are becoming yourself, for better or for ill. They serve as both your mirror and your negative image. You fill in the gaps they leave. Once they are out of the room you shadowbox their phantom or sucker slap their imagined face or you try on their bra. It doesn’t fit. You are the shy one or the short one or the darker one or the ugly one. And they are the center.
Sometimes, later, you are lucky enough to learn that—during that same time—they were piecing themselves together through the same incomplete processes, using the same Elmer’s glue, the same glitter, its tiny broken mirrors.
We are all we have.