LEGACY: Fifty Years on the Edge
On View / Corcoran: September 23 to December 10, 2022
- EXHIBITION – September 23 – October 23
- PERFORMED INSTALLATION – September 23 – December 10 New, immersive work, Maida & Robin Bell, political projection artist
Opening Event, September 23
October 7 Food/drink, Performances
October 8 Artists Public Forums / Performances (live/online)
Public “participation/performance, LUV, with a pillow,” October 24
Closing Event, December 10
Corcoran Galleries, Flagg Building, Washington, DC – 1 block from the White House
LEGACY EXHIBITION and PERFORMED INSTALLATION, challenges assumptions of history and culture while envisioning the possibilities of dance in the museum through interactive programming based on the history and philosophy of an experimental dance company – Maida Withers Dance Construction Company. LEGACY explores how image from the past, create new contextual meaning when the past becomes the future, a journey into the mind of an experimental dance artist emboldened by technology. LEGACY explores and supports the transformation of consciousness through the arts.
LEGACY is a moving exhibition celebrating the life and work of pioneering choreographer/dancer, Maida Withers, and the Dance Construction Company and collaborators (musicians, computer artist, filmmakers, scientists, others). Experience the passion and vulnerability of life lived through dance and visionary creations of Maida and world-class collaborating artists breaking ground for over 50 years through dance, experimentation, and empowerment through cross disciplinary voices.
Engagement with politics, the environment, and social change drives the collaboration of activist artists, Maida Withers, multimedia art and filmmaker, and Robin Bell, multimedia/ projectionist art and filmmaker. The exhibition is scheduled from September 15 – Oct 23, 2022 in the beautiful large Corcoran South Atrium. The immersive installation runs from September 23 – December 10, 2022 in Gallery #1. Corcoran is the oldest/largest non-federal museum in Washington, DC with an astonishing history of exhibiting Washington, DC artists.
Gallery #1: Maida Withers and Robin Bell, noted political projection artist, premiere an immersive site-specific installation, a re-mix of captivating images (dance videos, films, photographs, narrative, and interviews) drawn from Maida Withers Dance Construction Company archives. Media extracted from their original intention is juxtaposed, layered, and interfaced with technology to bring new life and meaning to extraordinary still and moving dance images through a 360 degree projected installation with music by Steve HIlmy and John Driscoll.
South Atrium: History in Motion: Large monitors and a video wall tell a fascinating story of captivating creativity that honors 50 years of innovative dance: dance making and activism – feminism, gender, politics, WAR; extreme environments – Gulag, Solovky Island, Russia; Coral Dunes, Utah and White Sands, New Mexico; red earth canyons, Four Corners Area ; real-time interaction of dance and technology – laser beams, neuroscience (emotions of dancers wearing the helmet impact on projected virtual worlds), visual projections.
Photos: Denais Seals; Adam Peiperl, Shaun Schroth, Linda Lewett, Aaron Deemer
The performed installation and history exhibition are made possible by Dance Construction Company comprehensive digital archives, media from stage works, improvisation performances, site-specific events, and dance films. Extraordinary national/international collaborators, dancers, musicians, computer artist, poet, others, perform live and online for the Opening, September 23, 2022, and the Gala Weekend, October 7 and 8, 2022 and other special events. October 8, 2022, panel discussion (death or life of experimental art) and artist talks support the examination of 50 years of dance in DC. Through the exhibition and installation, we want to inspire, entertain, build a sense of community, and deepen our understanding as the past becomes future. How does the past and present speak through dance?
The goal for LEGACY is to build support for dance through an experimental exhibition based on multidisciplinary dance works and, further, to build support for dance as a viable art form for inclusion in a dedicated exhibition space within the museum setting. LEGACY sets the stage, breaks new ground, for dance archives as a source for museum and gallery programming.
The significance of the Legacy Project resides in how live art of the past becomes relevant, again, through an innovative work that makes connection between historical materials and current issues, a conversation between the past, present, and future.
Dance Construction Company’s archive presents a fascinating perspective of performance through a distinctive collection of films, videos, photographs, and computer animation, images that originated from thought-provoking stage works, improvisation performances, site works, museum and gallery events. These works reveal an ongoing commitment to experimentation and collaboration with various art forms, artists, scientists, others. Interactive technology is a significant part of the legacy that features laser beams, new media, rotating loudspeakers, manipulation of computer art using a neural headset, and video installations.
The expansion and growth of archives is opening new artistic possibilities in the performing arts. New art forms will emerge as archives are filtered through the vision of creative artists. Archives, available to all through technology, will re-position dance within the larger visual culture and advance the commitment to performing arts as part of the exhibition space within museums.
The Legacy Project joins in the celebration of the art and artists of post-modern dance taking place in museums globally while bringing recognition to Washington, DC’s contribution through the celebration of 50 years of dance and performance by Maida Withers Dance Construction Company.
Project Partners & Key Individuals, Interdisciplinary Artists (additions to be announced):
•Maida Withers, artist director, choreographer, performer, principal collaborator (DC)
•Robin Bell (2019-) political projection artist, principal collaborator (DC)
•Anton Ovchinnikov – producer, choreographer, scholar (Kyiv, Ukraine)
•Anthony Gongora (2003-) dancer, choreographer, principal performer (Minn)
•Giselle Ruzany (1995-) dancer, choreographer, principal performer (DC)
•John Driscoll (1974-) performs music with sculpture objects, music included in immersive installation (Colorado)
•Steve Hilmy (1995-) perform live electronics, music included in immersive installation (Florida)
•Alex Caldiero (1991-) poet, performance artist, live performance (Utah)
•Tania Fraga (1998-) 3D computer artist, performs live MindFluctuations with dancers (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
•Audrey Chen (2003-) extreme vocals, performs live with dance improvisers (Berlin, Germany)
•Carl Gudenius (1990-) designer, exhibition design for Legacy
Others to be announced (DC)
Information About Key Organizational Partners and Individuals
Maida Withers, a powerful performer, known for innovation as a choreographer. As Artistic Director, she created over 100 distinctive projects with extensive international programming. Works reveal her activism in the arts, leadership in interactive technology and evening-length multimedia narratives. Awards: Cultural Envoy, Nairobi, New Delhi; Life-time Achievement Award, Festival in the Desert, Las Vegas; DC Mayor’s Award for Distinctive Contribution; Research Channel Film; Pola Nirenska, Great Cultural and Artistic Contributions; NEA Awards – Visual Arts in Performing Arts, Choreographer’s Fellowship, Inter Arts; DC Commission on the Arts, others. Performances: Thresholds Crossed, Moscow; Rolling Thunder, UN Earth Summit, Brazil; FareWell, Croatia; Orbit, IMZ Screen Festival, Vienna; Stone Circle, Tokyo; Utah*Spirit Place*Spirit Planet*Tukuhnikivatz, NYC. Local performances: Kennedy Center, Lisner, National Theatre, Dance Place, Corcoran Gallery, Air & Space Museum; others. Maida has created work and perform globally since 1996 when she made her first trip to Russia for the Volgograd national dance conference. She has created work and performed in over 20 countries. Maida is a Professor, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Theatre and Dance Program, Washington, DC.
Robin Bell, founder of Bell Visuals, an award-winning editor, video journalist, installations and multimedia artist in Washington, DC, who works on creative, political and public interest projects. Robin developed a unique style of live video collage which he has performed at the Kennedy Center, Phillips Collection in DC, Central Park Summer Stage, NYC, and Hollywood Bowl, LA. He was lead video editor for Fareed Zakaria’s PBS TV show, Foreign Exchange. Robin’s commitment to social change through the dissemination of information via video, sound and image is present throughout his artistic career. In 2005, Robin co-produced Operation Ceasefire, an anti-war concert on the national mall. His feature length documentary, positive Force: More than a Witness: 30 years of Punk Politics in Action, premiered in 2014. His 2017 projection, Emoluments Welcome, on the Trump Hotel in DC garnered media attention from BBC, CNN, New York Times, L.A. Times, Huffington Post and Hyperallergic, others.
Robin Bell and Maida Withers
John Driscoll is a composer /sound artist who is a founding member of Composers Inside Electronics (CIE) and collaborated on David Tudor’s Rainforest IV starting in 1973.He is a member of Composers Inside Electronics since 1973 and collaborated with David Tudor and CIE on 150+ performances of Tudor’s Rainforest IV. He has toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe with: CIE, Phil Edelstein, Douglas Dunn & Dancers, Maida Withers Dance Construction Co., Stephen Petronio Company, and as solo performer. His work has focused on robotic instruments, music for dance, and compositions and sound installations for unique architectural spaces. He has exhibited at the Fridman Gallery (NY), the MoMA (NY), Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw), Museum der Moderne (Salzburg), Lyon Biennale, Subtropics (Miami), and Univ. of Maryland (College Park). He has collaborated with Phil Edelstein on numerous works including their recent sound installation Cluster Fields and also Rainforest V (variations 1-4) which resulted in acquisitions in the collections of: MoMA (NY), Museum der Moderne (Salzburg), Arter Museum (Istanbul) and MAC (Lyon).His current work is sound installations with Cecilia Lopez (multiple robotic rotating loudspeakers).
Steve Hilmy, composer, musician, and professor, born in Aberdeen, Scotland. He studied composition with William Albright at the University of Michigan and with Jean Eichelberger Ivey and Chen Yi at the Peabody Conservatory. Hilmy has been on the faculty of The George Washington University Music Department since 1992, where he is Director of the Electronic and Computer Music Studio. He has won awards from such organizations as the Southeastern Composers League, ASCAP, BMI, the Peabody Conservatory, and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts, including First Prize in the Philip Slates Memorial Composition Contest for “Icarus Falling” (piano and electronics, 1989); the Gustav Klemm Prize for Composition from the Peabody Conservatory in 1991; 2nd place prize in the Prix d’été II composition competition at Peabody Conservatory for “Us” (tenor saxophone and electronics, 1999). He has created works, performed and toured internationally with the Dance Construction Company for over 15 years.
Steve Hilmy, Electronic Composer/Musician
Alex Caldiero makes things that appear as language or pictures or music– and then again, as the shape of your own mind. Born in the ancient town of Licodia Eubea, near Catania, Sicily, he immigrated with his family to the United States at age nine. Raised in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY. He attended Queens College in Flushing, NY. Apprenticed to the sculptor-poet Michael Lekakis and the poet-bard Ignaziu Buttitta; clandestine student and friend of experimentalist N.H. Pritchard. Caldiero has traveled thru Sicily, Sardinia, Turkey and Greece collecting proverbs, tales, and folk instruments. Author of 5 books; co-founder of Arba Sicula, the society for the preservation of the Sicilian language, traditions. He is co-recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and from Utah Performing Arts Tour; recipient of Best Poetry Award from the Association for Mormon Letters, and the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Award for Literature. He is senior artist in residence at Utah Valley University.
Alex Caldiero, Poet / Sonosphere
Anton Ovchinnikov – performer, choreographer, national dance innovator and organizer of the annual international dance festival Zelyonka FEST in Kiev, Ukraine. Black O!Range dance theater, established by Ovchinnikov in 2008, is recognized as one of the most distinctive and original dance projects in Ukraine. This independent dance production company, continues to be the vanguard of the Ukrainian dance scene. In 2016/2017 Ovchinnikov was selected to participate in the CEC Artslink residence in the USA in New Orleans. The Ukrainian Contemporary Dance Platform managed by Anton Ovchinnikov supports young Ukrainian choreographers, integrates contemporary dance into the modern cultural life of Ukraine, and is a national center of contemporary dance.www.zelyonka-fest.org
Bruce Hucko freelance photographer, author, art educator and radio producer whose primary work focuses on art, indigeneity and the environment. Landscape of the American West and its relationship to people figure largely in all of his work. Recognized by the Rockefeller Bros. Fund as one of 30 leading art educators in the USA (1984); received the Rockefeller Fund Award for Excellence in Arts Education. 15 books exclusively feature his photographic work. Media credits include National Park Service slide shows for Arches National Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. His book, Where There Is No Name for Art: The Art of Tewa Pueblo Children (School of American Research Press, 1997) received a 1998 Southwest Book Award and 1997 Carey McWilliams Award given by Multicultural Review Magazine as “the best book of the year on the U.S. experience of cultural diversity. Hucko’s photographs are featured in MWDCCo’s Utah*Spirit Place*Spirit Planet*Tukuhnikivatz at Lincoln Center (1996).
Tania Fraga Brazilian computer artist, architect, scholar; Ph.D. in Communication and Semiotics, Catholic University, Sao Paulo; Vice-president, Sao Paulo Institute of Mathematics and Art. Until 2003 Tania was Professor and Coordinator of the Graduate Studies of the Art Institute, University of Brasilia. Visiting Scholar at the Computer Science Department, George Washington University, Washington DC, in 1991/1992, 2010, and 2011. She was Artist-in-Residence, 1986, at Bemis Foundation, USA, Fulbright Commission grant. Her works have been exhibited extensively in Brazil. Research is related to virtual reality and the creation of artworks looking for the integration of affection among humans and virtual and physical objects through computer technology; integration of computer based artworks with neural technologies. Her computer art is featured in Company dance works: MindFluctuations, Hekuras: Spirits of the Rainforest, Dance of Auroras– Fire in the Sky.
Audrey Chen is a 2nd generation Chinese/Taiwanese-American musician who was born into a family of material scientists, doctors and engineers, outside of Chicago in 1976. Parting ways with the family convention, she turned to the cello at age 8 and voice at 11. After years of classical and conservatory training in both instruments, with a resulting specialization in early and new music, she parted ways again in 2003 to begin new negotiations with sound in order to discover a more individually honest aesthetic. Since then, using the cello, voice and occasional analog electronics, Chen’s work delves deeply into her own version of narrative and non-linear storytelling. A large component of her music is improvised, is completely un-processed and her approach to this is extremely personal and visceral. Her playing explores the combination and layering of an analog synthesizer, preparations and traditional and extended techniques in both the voice and cello. She works to join these elements into a singular ecstatic personal language.
Linda Lewett 20+ years of experience producing arts and entertainment, documentary, and promotional programs. After graduating with honors from American University in Film & Video, Linda honed her skills as a staff producer for Fairfax County from 1985-1990. On the weekends, she produced and directed Metro Dance/Arts, a series of 4-camera switched dance concerts, winning numerous national awards for local programming. She has conducted scores of interviews in the USA and abroad, and accompanied MWDDC on tour to Russia in 2005 and 2006, and to Mexico in 2009. In 1990, she formed ARTtv, LLc in Washington, DC to provide media services to cultural institutions and artists, and relocated to New York from 2002-12. She served on the boards of Dance Films Association and Washington Project for the Arts, and has won industry awards including a Silver Medal in the NY Festival for Legacy of Generations: Pottery by American Indian Women, produced in HD for WETA-TV in 1999. From 1999-2002, she was the producer/director of the Martha Graham Legacy Project for the Library of Congress; and received a PEW Charitable Trusts Dance Media Fellowship, and production grant from National Institute to Preserve America’s Dance. Her interest in science, philosophy, and the arts coalesced into the Minds Project, an interlocking series of short films that was awarded a 2007 NEA Arts on Radio & Television grant. Linda has been a powerful partner with Maida and the Company for over twenty years, traveling abroad as part of the artistic team in Russia and Mexico, and producing more than eight dance videos featuring the company.
Giselle Ruzany born in New York City and grew up in Rio de Janeiro, from the age 3 to 23, before returning to the US. She has been immersed in art and culture from a young age while visiting family in Europe. Art and Dance has been part of her life receiving performance and choreographic awards at an early age of 12 as well as terra-cotta sculpture prizes by age 18. She has been dancing professionally since 1987 and teaching dance from an authentic model since 1990. In her journey, she is grateful to have found Maida Withers which has been a force and guide in Giselle’s artistic life since 1995; with Maida Wither’s Dance Construction Company, Giselle has performed in Paris, New York, Seattle and all over DC. Giselle is presently a professor at GWU. She is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Woodley Park where she works from an embodied foundation, treating trauma, depression, anxiety and other psychological and somatic symptoms, for more information you can check www.gestaltdance.com. Giselle is a GWU alumni, a MA graduate from Naropa University, with a post graduate degree in Gestalt Therapy and a certificate in EMDR. More recently she has graduated from Lesley University with a PhD in expressive arts therapy. You can see some of her work at www.gestaltdance.com/en. She is a published writer, and choreographer where she combines her two passions of psychology and dance. She has two sons and a supporting husband that allows dance to keep evolving in her life.
Anthony Gongora is an interdisciplinary artist who is compelled by driving curiosity and imagination to create. His ongoing quest to fully explore and understand life has been expressed through his fingertips on computer keyboards, canvasses and clay, and also through the soles of his feet dancing on stages that traverse the globe. Gongora is a choreographer, performer, visual artist and educator, currently teaching at The University of the District of Columbia as an Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Art in the school of Mass Media Visual & Performing Arts and also at the George Washington University Department of Theatre and Dance. He has received several awards for his choreography, which has been performed in venues such as Joyce SoHo, NYC; Dance Center of Columbia College, Chicago; St. Mark’s Church, DanspaceProject, NYC and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Performance experience includes dancing with the companies of Troika Ranch (NYC), Mordine & Company Dance Theatre (Chicago), Maida Withers Dance Construction Company (DC), Jan Erkert & Dancers (Urbana) and Bob Eisen Dance (Chicago).
Carl Gudenius, production designer has been designing scenery and lighting for dance, theatre, and special events since 1976 and working as an art director and production designer for television since 1989. Designs include Spirit of America, WWII: Tribute to a Generation, 50th Anniversary of the Korean War and the Army Band Holiday Concerts for the US Army; POTUS Diplomatic Podium and graphic design for The White House. Theatrical, scenic and lighting designs have been seen at Washington Theatres: Olney Theatre, Interact, Folger Shakespeare, Metro Stage and the Washington Stage Guild (Resident Designer). Television credits include work for ABC (including Nightline and Good Morning America), ESPN, CNN, PBS (including In Performance at the White House) and C-SPAN. His corporate design work includes hundreds of shows and events for such clients as Terminix, Schlumberger, Accenture, Pfizer, Sony, HP, MasterCard, Choice Hotels and Barnes & Noble. He has designed for and toured with DTSBDC.
Artists and Collaborators
- Concept / Choreographer / Filmmaker
- Filmmaker / New Media