"Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard." Warren Bennis
IMPRESSIONS: YACKEZ's "Give It To You Stage" at New York Live Arts
Date: March 31, 2017
Choreographer: Larissa Velez-Jackson
Composer: Jon Velez-Jackson
Performers: Tyler Ashley, Laurie Berg, Lillie DeArmon, Sarah Holcman, Antonio Ramos, Jon Velez-Jackson, Larissa Velez-Jackson, Ashley R.T. Yergens, with participating seniors:
Dottie Brier, Socorro DeJesus, Sharon Flanagan, Pearl Frisch, Carmen Ithier, Gaetana M. Manuele, Stella Rodriquez-Morales, Marilyn Rosenberg, Dorothea Snyder, Bonnie Yarry, Madge Rosenberg
Seniors just want to have fun. Down with bingo and up with zany costume dances - particularly if your gyrations, tango, and conga kicks are greeted with standing ovations, as they were at NYLA. Yackez (Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson) can’t hide their underlying sweetness, no matter how hard they try to mask it. Despite the clownish eye make-up and an obsession with her microphone, fitness teacher Larissa Velez-Jackson exudes a cheerleader’s pep, irresistible to eleven of her senior students who joined her Queer pro-wrestling dance ensemble for this run at NYLA.
Photo: Paul B. Goode
After a bumpy start, Give It To You Stage reached its climax with wrestling schtick, somersaults and fly/attack/fall moves in a simulated ring. Three video screens framed the scene dominated by the sparkly spandexed singer Larissa while her husband Jon hovered on the periphery. The seventies video art with quick shifts of color, tunnel perspective, and layering supported the cartoon atmosphere. Towards the close of the show, the ensemble sang "Yackez Dot Com," a grinch-worthy swipe at ubiquitous self-promotion.
Velez-Jackson was one of five artists chosen to participate in NYLA’s Live Feed creative residency program. The Live Feed program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional residency for the development of Give It To You Stage is provided by the Watershed Lab residency at Mount Tremper Arts, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space residency, Gibney Dance Center DIP residency, CUNY Queens College Drama Theater and Dance department in partnership with New York Live Arts and funds from Larissa Velez-Jackson’s Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award (2016).
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