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WORKS & PROCESS ARTISTS (WPA) VIRTUAL COMMISSIONS PREMIERE: Hand Dance by Annie B-Parson, David Lang, Brittany Engel-Adams, and Ron Erlih

"Hand Dance" by Annie B-Parson, David Lang, Brittany Engel-Adams, Ron Erlih. Photo: Courtesy of the artists. Copyright © 2020 by Red Poppy, Ltd. (ASCAP)

Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, presented the premiere of a new virtual commission by Annie B-Parson, David Lang, Brittany Engel-Adams, and Ron Erlih.

Hand Dance is a dance film and collaboration between composer David Lang, choreographer Annie-B Parson, visual artist Ron Erlih, and dancer/choreographer Brittany Engel-Adams. Moved by their premiere date, the eve of election 2020, the group wanted to reflect this precipice. David Lang’s song employs a line about the working class from a Bernie Sanders’ speech, and in Lang’s hands, the text reads like an aspirational koan. The song inspired an intimate hand dance set in Brittany and Ron’s kitchen in Brooklyn. Throughout the film, hands sourced from public data sets are overlaid on top of Brittany’s hand gestures, suggesting a larger world beyond their home.

“Hand Dance” by Annie B-Parson, David Lang, Brittany Engel-Adams, and 

Ron Erlih

Choreography by Annie-B Parson

Music by David Lang
Words by Bernie Sanders
Performance and Film Direction by Brittany Engel-Adams
Software and Film Direction by Ron Erlih
Vocals by Brittany Engel-Adams and Chris Giarmo
Costumes by Suzanne Bocanegra
Produced by Sara Pereira da Silva
Annie-B Parson is a choreographer; she co-founded Big Dance Theater in 1991 with Molly Hickok and Paul Lazar. She has also made dances and stagings for the work of David Byrne, David Bowie, St. Vincent, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Wendy Whelan, Laurie Anderson, Nico Muhly, Jonathan Demme, Salt n Pepa, Esperanza Spalding, Anne Carson, Jonsi, and the Martha Graham Dance Co., among many others.
Her most recent work with David Byrne, American Utopia, opened as a film by Spike Lee in October 2020 and will return to Broadway next year.
David Lang‘s score for Paolo Sorrentino’s film “Youth” received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, among others. Other recent work includes the operas “anatomy theater,” written in collaboration with visual artist Mark Dion, at Los Angeles Opera; “the mile long opera” on the High Line in New York, with Elizabeth Diller, Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine; and “the loser,” based on the novel by Thomas Bernhard, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, for which Lang served as librettist, composer, and stage director. His opera “prisoner of the state” premiered June 6-8, 2019 with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Lang is a Professor of Music Composition at the Yale School of Music and is Artist in Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is co- founder and co-artistic director of New York’s legendary music festival Bang on a Can.
Brittany Engel-Adams is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher living in New York. She has danced with Yvonne Rainer, Okwui Okpokwasili, Pat Catterson, Pam Tanowitz, Netta Yerushalmy, Emily Coates, Donna Uchizono, Annie-B Parson, Ailey ll and more. Brittany performed across disciplines for projects like “Sleep No More” (immersive theater); “The White Album” (multimedia theater) directed by Lars Jan; “10019” (site-specific performance) choreographed by Naomi Goldberg Haas. She is a co-star in the HBO television series “Boardwalk Empire” and is featured in the film “Chiraq” directed by Spike Lee. Her choreographic work has been presented at Victoria J. Mastrobuono Theater, Symphony Space, PS261, and Kumble Theater. Currently, Brittany is on the faculty at Rutgers University and  NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing. For more, see https://www.brittanyengeladams.com.
Ron Erlih is a visual artist and software engineer living in New York, originally from Tel-Aviv.
“Erlih’s Work western-meditations blurs the boundaries between the real and the virtual by mixing consumer information from both the exhibition space itself and the world wide web” (Journal of visual and material culture, Yeal Eilat). His work has been exhibited at Ars-Electronica Festival in Austria, Gallery Thaddeus Ropac Paris, Contemporary Gallery in Tel-Aviv, and at The Fainziliber Collection, as well as online at https://ronerlihstudio.com/ A live web version of the hands overlay can be viewed http://www.hand-mirror.net/ Ron teaches computer science at Columbia University.
Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commissions, a direct response to the pandemic, was launched in April to financially support artists and nurture their creative process during these challenging times. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, is granting more than $150,000 in commissioning funds to artists who have been or were supposed to be featured at Works & Process. Artists from a wide variety of genres have been commissioned to create new works, less than 5 minutes long, while social distancing, that will premiere on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (@worksandprocess) every Sunday and Monday at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed anytime after that time.
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