Thursday, March 13, 2008

Press Release

Laura Ward/Octavia Cup Dance Theatre with Foundation 2021 Presents
The World Premier of

Whistle Me Higher: Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace

at the Theater for the New City on May 1-4, 2008
155 1st Avenue (near 10th Street)

Whistle Me Higher- Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace, created and produced by Laura Ward, celebrates the fantastic aspects of nature, religion, addiction, and the American Dream found within Death Valley/Las Vegas. The gamut of southwestern glamour, glitz and gluttony, is revealed through contemporary ballet, original music, spoken word and physical theatre, which includes eagle totems, Elvis weddings, and legends involving flying machines. The score, by Fa Ventilato (Fuckintosh, Bingo Palace) and Frank Heer (Der Flammender Grund, Bingo Palace) is a key portal into the often hypnotic, drug induced, dream-like show, set somewhere between Lost Highway and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Featured within the work are guest choreographers Georgina Aragon and Nadia Zaki. An excerpt from Whistle Me Higher- Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace can be seen on entitled Just Like An Eagle. It tells an old Native American legend from the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley and illuminates the adaptation required for survival.
Performances will take place at the Theater for the New City in the Johnson Theater May 1-3, 2008 (Thursday – Saturday) at 8:00pm and May 4, 2008 (Sunday) at 3:00pm. Tickets are $20 and can be bought online through the (I will set this up soon) website.*

Canadian born, East Village resident, Laura Ward, founded Octavia Cup Dance Theatre ( in 1998. This will be Laura’s sixth New York City season. Laura’s work has been shown at many venues including the 92nd St Y with New Choreographer’s On Pointe, Merce Cunningham Studios, Williamsburg Art Nexus, Byrdcliffe Theatre in Woodstock. In 2007 Octavia Cup performed original works in Avignon, France and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as well as on the Delacorte Theater stage in Central Park (in a Tribute to Marc Bolan). Octavia Cup has performed at the New York City Ballet’s Annual Wellness Weekend. Laura has choreographed for NYC's Earth Celebrations Festival and danced with Classics Dance Theatre, Yass Hakushima Mime Theater and Roots of Brazil. Laura is a Laban Movement Analyst and teaches for Dance New Amsterdam, Equinox and the Laban/Bartenieff Institute for Movement Studies.

Fa Ventilato, was born 1967 in Switzerland. He is a New York based music artist and producer. His work, within the variety of contemporary music, finds its way into film, performance, art installations, dance theater, and conceptual pop albums. He played in bands such as Halcion, Pee Air, Melomane and Drum I Lama. In recent years his focus has switched to the world of home recording, experimental electronic music and exploring the art of sampling. His commissions include: refined soundtracks for the 7th and 8th BIFF trailer (Brooklyn International Film Festival); the sound installations for the Columbian video artist Monika Bravo; 'Playing With Time', 'September 10th'; and for the music on the animations- 'The Last Autumn Days', 'One Way', 'A Matter of Life', 'Passing Moods', 'Mattino d'Inverno Mattino d'Estate' by the Italian artist Luisa Rabbia. Ventilato has collaborated with the Swiss dance theatre company Sans Filtre making 3 real time soundtrack performances for them.

Excerpts of this show premiered in Avignon, France, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at the 92nd st Y in 2007. A preview excerpt was shown at City Tech in 2008.
This presentation is a production of Laura Ward/Octavia Cup Dance Theatre in association with Tin U. Nye and Foundation 20-21, and is supported by the LeRoy Neiman Foundation, Ruth Simmons.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Inspiration and Herstory

In February last year (2007), at a party at the National Arts Club, hosted by Tim Nye- who incidentally is helping to produce Whistle Me Higher... (huge run-on lead in...) I met the Swiss-Italian musician Fa Ventilato- exactly one half of the band Bingo Palace. Always on the lookout for original music capable of inspiring choreography, I was very pleased to learn that Fa had first come to the US with the hopes of collaborating with american dancers and choreographers, he had had some success with it in Der Schweiz working with Sans Filtre creating real time soundtrack performances. Upon his arrival in USA he did some preliminary surveillance and reconnaissance of the New York dance scene and was unable to find anyone of any interest to work with, he soon retired the idea of dance collaboration, for several years it lay dormant- in 2007 it reawakened- which brings us back to our meeting in Gramercy at Tim's party. Fa explained to me that the current musical work he was involved in was essentially mashing-up disparate artists to create a totally different sound, not mixing 2 songs and coming up with one song laid over the other, or sampled and mixed to have the exact same winning/selling effect that the original song had as so often is seen in reconstructed or mashed, or sampled work. it is a kind of recomposition created in realtime. this certainly peaked my curiosity.
We exchanged emails and met later in the week at the W hotel lobby for a handoff- I showed him a few videos on my ipod (technology has its rewards), I in turn received a collection of his cd's Fuckintosh and some older work- Whistle Me Higher by Bingo Palace- his collaboration with musician and author Frank Heer. Frank had written a book called Flammender Grund (burning ground- or flaming reason) and the two of them together teamed up to form Bingo Palace. the music they made- Whistle Me Higher- was created as the soundtrack to go with Frank's book "In short, it's about a swiss teacher who flees Switzerland and tries to shed his past in the glittering sun of the death valley. The beautiful stranger Jade helps him on the search for his great grand father's bones." (from The Roman Games Diary blogpost).
I was quite pleased and drawn into the Fuckintosh cd's. the first one i got to know was Kraftwerk vs the Beatles it encompasses many different moods and tones- often just a little too twisted to be entirely comfortable- Exactly as I likey! Perfect to match up to my own slightly twisted aesthetic.
Fa came to a couple of my solo generative rehearsals at Joyce Soho. I brought the camera and Fa played DJ and videographer. it was a mash up/improv jam. lots of fun and I began to see that there were some definite affinities and new places to explore.
Several of these improv videos wound up on youtube. i did my own mash up editing job on one song from Kraftwerk vs the Beatles and loaded it up onto youtube much to the annoyance of many kraftwerk and beatle fans who wanted to know 'what have they done to the music?" on the other side of the coin a few musos found it interesting.
Over the summer I created Just Like An Eagle - the birth of Whistle Me Higher: Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace was in its gestational phase. Big thanks to Georgina Aragon for pushing me hard to get my legs moving faster and my passes higher and of course, for her sharp eye and creative input. I took this dance along with an older blacker eagle dance to Europe for the summer. I performed as a soloist in Avignon and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival- Riding on the Danceformspro bus with Susana B. Williams.
Upon returning to the good ole USA I hooked up with the tiny girl with huge eyes and presence- Heather Garbrandt, adding another body to the petri dish. We wrestled around with three new pieces that have grown into a solid base for the show. Our emergency life saver Jaime Thompson climbed into the experiment in January of 2008 and picked up some of our slack moments, shaking them out and reinventing them with lightening speed. the soundtrack continues to evolve as i need to cut pieces apart, shortening, and cross fading etc.
We had 2 February performances of the basic skeleton of the new material. our first exposure was at PS 50 - an elementary school in Harlem. City Year an outreach program from Americorps had reached out to DNA (Dance New Amsterdam) looking for
a volunteer dance company who would perform for the kids during their spring break camp. It concurred with my new resolve to help create abundance in the dance community by performing for anyone anywhere for anything. The show was in a cafeteria style room, kids sat on the floor and we tried our best not to knock them over- space was limited and very oddly set up- which for me was a huge mental challenge- orientation was difficult. the floor was hard and we were unable to dance in our toe shoes, but the kids didn't notice. They were most impressed by our more acrobatic partnering moments. one little boy erupted in a "that's some hot stuff" which has become our favorite quote from the experience. he was referring to our leotard, i think. another hit was the question at the end of the show- a little girl wanted to know if I was Heather and Jaime's mom.
Our second big event was a performance at City Tech in Brooklyn Heights - a free show, open to the students and the public at the rather unfortunate time (for the public, not the students) of 1:00pm on a Thursday. We had a great time even though the stage was hard and cold.- Lonne Moretton (my favorite person to run into at BAM), Kate Thomas and Marla Hirokawa also showed work. The show was well curated by Miryam Wasserman. She had seen us all at New Choreographer's on Pointe Previews at the 92nd St Y last summer- she saw the american premiere of Just Like An Eagle! She invited us to do the city Tech show AND she even paid the dancers! Yippee!
This past week Lisa Benke joined the Cup Cake Team. Jumping into her pointe shoes again after a 7 year hiatus. KUDOS to her, and she has huge shoulder bruises to prove it. Lisa popped out of my Ballet class at Equinox. She can turn, has great musicality and an excellent disposition (always a bonus). Equinox has been a surprising source of dancers both Jaime and Heather came through connections from the NOX. Jaime actually worked there- back in her more cynical days. She disappeared for a while, then resurfaced at BAE. We were all shocked when she told us she'd met an amazing man and her personality rearranged itself enough for her to notice that she was actually a happy person. WHAHHOOEE. She is now one of those rare folk who extoll the virtues of married life.
Heather was sent to us in 2006 by an angel called Sousek (an ex equinoxer, current radio city girl and octaviacupdancerwrangler)- who has been to a rehearsal or two but never actually danced for the Cup. Heather is engaged to John the Greek and teaches a million ballet classes a week to people of all ages. Most important to us is the fact that she teaches at the Long Island City School of Ballet -which, by no accident has become our prime rehearsal venue.

And that is the news from flakesnowbegone! as far as i can remember at 3:28 am monday morning- this is purely my distortion of our history- it may bear no actual resemblance to the facts from another point of view- that is the super duper scooper- so to say.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Whistle Me HIgher: Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace

Who: Laura Ward/Octavia Cup Dance Theatre
What: Whistle Me Higher: Imaginary Dances From Bingo Palace
Including all original Music from Fa Ventilato, and Text From Frank Heer
Choreography by Laura Ward, with special guest choreographers Georgina Aragon and Nadia Zaki
Where: Theater For The New City 155 1st Avenue (near 10th St.)
When: May 1-4, Thursday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 3pm
Why: Why? Because We LIKE YOU!