Dancestry: Illuminating the Past, Inspiring the Now
Shay Ishii Dance Company presents Dancestry….provenance, a celebration of artistic heritage and revival of historic dance. Provenance showcases masterworks and new works inspired by modern dance pioneers Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Erick Hawkins.
Accompanied by music and encompassed by the serene “Stacked Waters” of the Blanton’s Rappoport Artrium, Provenance presents these historic masterpieces and contemporary legacy works in a salon style setting that showcases their elegant simplicity and poignant beauty.
Blanton Museum of Art. 200 E MLK Jr. Blvd.
TIckets are available through Eventbrite and at the door the day of the show. Parking available for $4 in the Brazos Garage, next door to the museum at Brazos and MLK Jr. Boulevard.
Collaborating Artists include: Meg Brooker (Artistic Director of Duncan Dance Project), Jessica Lindberg Coxe (Lindberg Slayter Reconstructions), Katherine Duke, (Artistic Director of Erick Hawkins Dance Foundation), Shay Ishii (Artistic Director, Dancestry)
Musicians: Paula Bird (violinist), Jennifer Conte (soprano), Rachel Garner (cellist)
The Austin American Statesman named Dancestry
“Best of Austin Arts in 2015: Fresh and Forward Thinking"
Dancestry received the Austin Critics Table Award 2015-16 for “Short Work” and
was nominated for “Concert” “Ensemble,” “Dancer,” and “Lighting Design”
Jonelle Seitz of the Austin Chronicle Named “8 Clear Places” from Dancestry as one of the Top 10 Thrills (No Frills) of Dance in 2017
Photo credit: Stephanie Schulz
Painting: Catherine Lee
This project is supported in part by the Culturals Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.
Loïe Fuller (1862), born Mary Louise Fuller, began her professional career as an actress in Chicago in the 1880’s. She traveled to New York City and performed in a number of forgotten plays before being inspired to become a solo dance performer. She traveled to Europe, promoting her new style of skirt dancing, and landed in at the Folies Bergere, in Paris. Her skirts became longer, bigger and slowly the waists disappeared and rods were added to extend their length. Fuller hung the stage in black velvet, turned out the house lights, placed colored gels in front of the lights, used gobos to fracture or change the shape of the light, and she placed these new theatrical inventions around the performing space like a halo. In 1896, Fuller created some of her most well known solos: Night, Fire Dance, and Lily of the Nile. In 1908, Fuller formed a dance company and school based on natural dancing. She began choreographing large group works, like La Mer, for her muses, who perform all over the world. Fuller continued to present her famous solos and group works until her death on New Years Day, 1928.
Famed for her bare feet, silk tunics, and free spirit, Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) revolutionized turn-of-the-twentieth century concert dance. A San Francisco native often hailed as the “Mother of Modern Dance,” Duncan began teaching and performing at a young age. She traveled east, dancing in Chicago and New York, where she worked as a member of Augustine Daly’s theatre company. Duncan’s early solo concerts were in the context of high society salons, and she danced to both musical accompaniment and poetic recitations. By 1900, Duncan sought an audience for her art in Europe. In London, she began to create choreographies to Frederic Chopin’s piano compositions, and in Paris she served a brief apprenticeship with Loie Fuller. In fact, Fuller organized a concert for Duncan that led to her first major contract with a theatre in Budapest, Hungary. Over the course of her nearly three-decades long career, Duncan toured extensively throughout Europe, Russia, the United States, and South America. Her work evolved during that time, with early choreographies expressing youthful joy and exuberance, symphonic works evoking Greek mythological stories and archetypes, and powerful dances featuring monumental and heroic themes in response to the First World War.
Duncan’s influence was not limited to revolutionizing dance as an art form, she was an outspoken advocate for women’s freedoms, including dress reform and education, founding her first school in Germany in 1904. Six of her original students, dubbed the “Isadorables” by a critic, performed with her and later passed on her technique and a repertory of nearly one hundred choreographies. Influenced by her observations of movement in nature, her studies of the work of Francois Delsarte, and her meditations on Greek and Renaissance art, Duncan identified the solar plexus as the initiatory center of all emotive and expressive movements and created a dance technique that develops the relationship between breath and gesture. This movement technique is expressive, integrating, and powerful, and as direct-lineage Duncan dancers, Meg Brooker, Valerie Durham, and Jennifer Sprowl are actively working to preserve, pass on, and develop the Duncan dance legacy.
Regarded as the Poet of Modern Dance, Erick Hawkins (1909-1994) was hailed as a true dance radical. Hawkins completed a degree in Greek classics at Harvard and began his study of dance with Harald Kreutzberg. In 1934, he became the first American student to enroll in George Balanchine's School of American Ballet where he also danced and choreographed for Ballet Caravan, which later became the New York City Ballet. He became the first male dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1938 and created unique male roles in many of her dances, generating a compelling physicality of style and a new image of masculinity in American Modern Dance. In 1951, Hawkins opened his own school where he began exploring the new field of kinesiology. His technique emphasizes movement that is organic, ergonomic and free of superfluous gesture and effort. This technique is the source of the unparalleled grace and fluid beauty one sees in a Hawkins trained dancer. Erick is often quoted for his poetic acknowledgement that “The body is a clear place.” Erick Hawkins led his company with enormous spirit and vitality. At the core of his style is his unprecedented collaboration with contemporary composers, artists, sculptors, and designers. He worked with artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Isamu Noguchi, Stanley Boxer, Ralph Lee, and Ralph Dorazio. Some of the many composers he commissioned were Virgil Thomson, Alan Hovhaness, Lou Harrison, Michio Mamiya, Ge Gan-ru, and Lucia Dlugoszewski. Hawkins was awarded the President’s Medal for the Arts at the White House in October of 1994. In the President’s words: “for his boldness and talent Hawkins commands a legendary place in American Modern Dance heritage…truly a pioneer.” Hawkins has been honored with a Mellon Foundation Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Dance Magazine Award, Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Western Michigan University, The Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement, International Society for the Performing Arts Distinguished Artist Award, and The Master Teacher/Mentors Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Paula E. Bird, an accomplished violinist and pianist, received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, her M.M. from Texas State University, and is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio. She also studied music performance (violin and piano) at Temple University in Philadelphia with Helen Kwalwasser and Marian Filar, where Bird received the Dean's Outstanding Achievement Award.
Bird currently performs as a member of the prestigious Artisan Quartet and first violin with the Austin Symphony Orchestra, and she serves as Associate Concertmaster and Master Class Clinician with the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon. Paula currently teaches chamber music, applied violin, and Mariachi violin sectionals at Texas State University. A former member of the San Antonio Symphony and the Austin Lyric Opera, Bird has been a member of numerous professional symphony orchestras in Pennsylvania and Texas, including the Harrisburg, Waco, Victoria, and Corpus Christi Symphonies. Bird has also played with the Winters Chamber Orchestra (Soloist and Assistant Concertmaster) and the Laredo Philharmonic.
Bird has performed in numerous master classes as a violinist and pianist with Jaime Laredo, Elmar Oliveira, Leonard Rosen, Franco Gulli, and Eugene Fodor. She is also a registered teacher of Dr. Suzuki’s Talent Education Method and maintains an extensive private violin and piano studio in Wimberley, TX. In addition to her responsibilities with Texas State University, including the University Summer Strings Camp, Bird is a faculty member of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio summer camp and was the Director of the former Texas State University Suzuki String Institute.
As a pianist, Bird has accompanied recitalists at UTSA and SAC in San Antonio, Indiana University, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Texas Lutheran College. Bird was also the accompanist for the San Antonio Symphony's Operation Opera and for Richard Stoltzman (clarinet) in school concerts for the Austin Symphony.
Jennifer Conte, soprano, is a performer and voice instructor in the Austin area. She received her bachelor’s degree at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, and attended Texas State University working towards her Master of Music in Performance under the tutelage of Cheryl Parrish. She currently teaches at Curious Chords in Kyle and is the children’s choir director at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Marcos.
Rachel A. Garner, a San Antonio native, received Bachelor’s of Music in Cello Performance from Texas State University in 2015. She is actively involved in the music community as a member of the Laredo Philharmonic and plays in weddings for the company Musical Discovery. Currently Rachel has two private lessons studios. She teaches in San Antonio at Antonio Strad Violin and in Austin at Clavier-Werke School of Music.