The Dance Enthusiast Ask Felice Lesser About 41 Years of Dance Making and her Season at The Duke on 42nd Street
Felice Lesser Dance Theater
Venue: The Duke on 42nd Street
Dates: February 8-12, 2017; 2/8-11 at 7:30pm, 2/11-12 at 2pm
Tickets are available at dukeon42.org or call 646-223-3010. Tickets start at $40. Student/Senior/FLDT member discounts available.
Choreographer/Projections: Felice Lesser
Composer: Borut Krzisnik
Lighting: Matt Miller
Dancers: Ahmaud Culver, Katherine Files, Ethan Gwynn, Chanmee Jeong, Chihwan Kim, Acee Francis Laird, Danielle Shupe, Dona Wiley
Pictured above: "Memory Prism" from Lightning; Choreography: Felice Lesser; Preview at Jazz at Lincoln Center; Dancer: Dona Wiley
A buoyant Felice Lesser met with TDE contributor Deirdre Towers on January 28th at the Little Pie Company in mid-town to discuss her multi-media work Lightning which expresses her thoughts on what’s ahead in 2017 (“with a little comic relief to relieve all the gloom”). Created in her company’s 40th year, Lightning has 12 sections that respond to such timely issues as Trump’s wall, the plight of immigrants and refugees, Black Lives Matter, and religious prosecution. The composer Borut Krzisnik (1961, Slovenia), a frequent collaborator with dancers and filmmakers, writes on his website, “Lightning is not just a natural phenomena - it is a social one as well. It shows us how things work, and that is by principle of force. Not by consensus, but by mere power.”
Deirdre Towers for The Dance Enthusiast: Did you decide to do this piece pre-election?
Felice Lesser: Yes. A couple of years ago, I heard Borut’s music and I just had to choreograph it (it’s really good music.) I applied for a grant so that he could make a commissioned score for me. I asked what he was interested in and he said, "Borders — technological, sexual, geographical." I didn’t get past the grant's letter of inquiry stage, but the idea stayed in the back of my mind and I decided to make the piece anyway.
Before the election, I choreographed two pieces, first a pas de deux called Memory Prism about a woman in relationship that breaks up. Years later, she remembers the relationship but she sees it differently-- as though it had never ended. Her mind plays tricks with her.
Next, I started a piece called Artificial Intelligence and, as a backdrop, used video of neon that I shot through scaffolding in Times Square. I made robot-like, video clones of my leading dancer, Donna Wiley, and layered them gradually so that by the end of the piece, there were 20 or 30 of them.
The robots put Donna to sleep, and when she wakes up, they are misbehaving. They make her their slave, giving her electric shocks. The point being, that as artificial intelligence gets more sophisticated and robots take over human functions, will they take over the world and our kill our humanity?