Movement Stirs at Edgar Allen Poe in the bronx
By. Megan Curet
Performance art drives dance and movement to the Bronx in an unconventional way on April 29, 2017. At the Poe Park Visitor Center in the Bronx, adjacent to former home of Edgar Allen Poe, a series of works take place by three artists. Once you enter the space you are welcomed by visitors aligned in the entrance and into the space in chairs and standing space. The audience is composed of children, adults and the elderly. Members of the neighborhood are invited to enjoy an afternoon of performance and other audience goers have ventured up to the Bronx from neighboring boroughs such as Queens, and Brooklyn.
Transparent glass windows allow for outsiders to enjoy the performance without entering the space and allow the performance artist to engage with the outside. As audience members gather in between performances I found myself with one of the co-curators Christine Bonansea who offers further information into the event. “I come from France, but spent the last ten years here in the state, and only two here in New York, as well as being a performer I am a dramaturge”. I ask her how the change to NYC has been and with wide eyes and an eager smile Bonansea simply responds, “it has been very good here”. She gave me further information on the event and was willing to offer as much assistance as possible. Clearly aiming to further her agenda beyond the performance, which seemed to simply be, connecting humans to the performance experience known as Human Odyssey.
The Human Odyssey is a monthly performance and media art showcase. Human Odyssey explores the human connection between the performer and audience that challenge ideas of self-identity within movement practices or any other forms of disciplinary practices. These practices develop evidence that within an embodiment state, one can trace these movements from a personal or textural experience (place) to map out a form of somatic practice.
Performances include artist Malcolm Betts, on Black Bodies Gone Down. Black Bodies Gone Down is a multi-disciplinary performance and art installation focusing around themes of using black masculinity as sexual politics, black feminist, historical systematic racism through entertainment and using performance as radical healing. Black Bodies Gone Down stems from the idea of how systems create hyper masculine stereotypes against men of color. These pieces are in conjunction to creating a “gaga” and “embodiment” inspired dance practice but through African-American postcolonial, pre-colonial and afro-futurist lens.
OnlyHuman by Christine Bonansea, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s Human, All Too Human. “I investigates the stark contradiction between our race’s capacity for freedom and beauty against its most destructive and illogical behaviors.”- Christine Bonansea. Conceived as a departure point for a future series, this highly kinetic and virtuosic dance is a meditation on bodily images and stereotypes of self in the context of the environment – geography, emotions, and social structure.
Revolutionary Womyn Choreographed and facilitated by Babay L. Angles (Angelica Tolentino). Revolutionary Womyn in collaboration with Mujer Mariposa by Diana Cervera explores and documents the daily individual and collective struggle and resistance of Womyn. “It explores the ways in which Womyn of color, migrant Womyn, and indigenous Womyn have faced oppression. We have been taught to silence, hate, and distance ourselves from our own bodies and needs. This work and movement practice aims to collectively re (member) our bodies, strength, and beauty in times that say other wise. Our movements aim to destroy the notion of our bodies as sites of exotification, fear, and war in order to rebuild home from the fabric of 500 years of constant resistance.” –Angelica Tolentino
Betts’s work invoked a harsh visceral impression, using movement to loud electronic sounds. In contrast, Tolentino then invites members of the audience to stand in a circle and partake in a call and response of movement and sound. That afternoon Human Odyssey sourced rituals, collectivity and what felt like a new age for performance art in the Bronx. An age where the community joins the movement and the movement represents the community. While performance constantly evolves shape and location, Human Odyssey is building a specific new kind of experience. Excitingly enough, this experience is not taking place in the galleries of SoHo but in the former neighborhood of Edgar Allen Poe, in The Bronx.