The Most Epic Cross-Cultural Collaboration is Coming to NYC This Weekend
Sahar Damoni, PC Tamar Lamm
Do you ever imagine collaborating with a dancer or musician from a faraway place? Composer Andy Teirstein, professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has made this wish come true for performing artists with his Translucent Borders project. Over the last three years he has brought dancers and musicians from Cuba, Israel, Greece and Ghana to experience other cultures. On June 29, this project culminates in a rich border-crossing event at the Jack Crystal Theater at Tisch.
Here are some of the dance artists involved in these cross-cultural collaborations:
• Sahar Damoni, a young Palestinian who has danced in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival and who makes work about the challenges she faces as a woman in an Arab Palestinian society. She is collaborating with Teirstein (who has composed for choreographers like Donald Byrd, Stephen Petronio, Liz Lerman and Sara Pearson) and Israeli singer Yair Dalal.
• Dege Feder, an Ethiopian-Israeli dancer who has her own restless style. She has danced and choreographed with Ruth Eshel's Eskista Ethiopian dance troupe and toured internationally. She is collaborating with Italian composer Angela Ambrosini.
• Donald Byrd, artistic director of Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle. He traveled to Ghana and was very moved by the history there. He visited Cape Coast Castle, which beginning in the 1600s had dungeons where Africans were kept before being forced to travel to the New World as slaves. Byrd has said that it changed him in ways he couldn't express. He will be working with Ghanaian musician/dancer/storyteller Merigah Abubakari—Yaya for short.
Yaya with Andy Teirstein in Ghana, PC Cari Ann Shim Sham
• Sulley Imoro, an internationally known Ghanaian dancer/musician. Although he is a traditional dancer and drummer, he can burst forth with delightful improvisations. He is working with two musicians from Israel's amazing System Ali (the members sing in Hebrew, Arabic and/or Russian): accordionist Neta Weiner and rapper Muhammad Mugrabi.
Full disclosure: As an adjunct at Tisch Dance, I participated in Translucent Borders last year. So some of these artists are like old friends to me.
My best running buddy was on my left. To my right, a total stranger with whom I'd suddenly become competitive. As the 15-person group headed into a two-minute push, the instructor got hyped, and the remix blasting Rihanna's "We Found Love" transitioned to "Smooth Criminal."