"Combustion" by Wendy Osserman Dance
Wendy Osserman Dance
Wendy Osserman Dance Company presents the ardent Combustion at Theater For The New City, March 11-14, 2020. Fire is a recurrent image embodied by the dancers in Combustion, a new piece for five. As she attempts to digest inflammatory statements and actions by our President and his followers, Wendy Osserman — like many of us — has felt consumed with worry, shock, anger and a need to make sense of current events. President Trump appears caught in his reality TV role as he fires his collaborators and fumes and lashes out at any opposition. At the same time, we are witnessing the destructive power of wildfires in California and elsewhere in the world, self-combusting due to creeping climate change, deforestation, and poor working conditions in third-world countries.
As in past works, Osserman identifies with what concerns her — war, the depleted earth, polarization in politics, fascistic leaders — and physicalizes her response. As she performs her distress, humor can emerge as a welcome side effect, surprising and palliative. In her collaboration with the dancers, fire is also recognized as a generator of life, an agent of transformation, purification, illumination and enlightenment. The unusual contributions of composer, musician and musical instrument creator, Skip La Plante, will again delight the dancers and the audience.
Udjat, a trio from 1985, concludes the program with “a darkness that is both powerful and compelling,” Attitude: The Dance Magazine. Udjat is the Egyptian hieroglyph of the Sacred Eye, a symbol of completeness, of things made more precious having been restored.
“Osserman, alone in a spotlight, starts twisting, kicking, and clawing, as if the beast in her were taking over. It takes a while to realize that what she's growling out and licking her chops over is "The Star-Spangled Banner." -The Village Voice
WENDY OSSERMAN DANCE COMPANY celebrates the strangeness of being alive. They relish a collaborative process which includes improvisation, writing, reading contemporary poetry, articles on science and other news. The choreography explores the many sides of our personalities and relationships. The Company values its collaborations with musicians and composers such as Iva Bittová, Skip La Plante, Harry Mann, Victor Lewis, and Concetta Abbate and visual artists including Illya Azaroff, Charles Hinman, Sarah Olson, Ken Laser and Sanya Kantarovsky. Influenced by her experience working with Kei Takei’s Moving Earth in the ’70s, Osserman enjoys finding tasks for herself and the dancers. These border on the impossible, such as trying to touch while not wanting to be touched and the reverse; the attempt generates movement that is authentic as well as metaphorical. Osserman conveys her struggle to comprehend current events and history with drama and humor, confusing the personal with the political.
WENDY OSSERMAN (Artistic Director) studied dance forms with Martha Graham, José Limòn, Betty Jones and others and choreography with Louis Horst, Anna Sokolow, Bessie Schönberg, Robert Ellis Dunn, and Martha Myers. After performing as a soloist with Valerie Bettis, Alice Condodina, Kei Takei, Frances Alenikoff, the Hellenic Chorodrama, S.I.T.U. and in two festivals, she created on the island of Paros, Greece and she launched Wendy Osserman Dance Company in 1976. Osserman has choreographed over 17 full-length pieces as well as many shorter works in collaboration with outstanding dancers. She was featured in Dancing Divas at La MaMa; Women in Dance at 92 Y: History in the Making Anniversary Special; From The Horse’s Mouth, Rebecca Stenn & Company; Theater Within and My Inner Sole, conceived and directed by Zuzka Kurtz. Osserman earned a B.A. in theater from Smith College and a M.A. from New York University. Honors include the Lawrence S. Epstein Choreography Award in 1991 and the 2004 Gallatin Arts Festival Award from NYU. She has taught dance at numerous schools and universities and creates original dance theater work in North Carolina where she spends half the year. She is featured in A Life in Dance: A Practical Guide by Rebecca Stenn and Fran Kirmser.
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