(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Choreographer/dancer Kyle Abraham and his ensemble, Abraham.In.Motion, will unveil “The Watershed,” a new, evening-length work in Abraham’s signature blend of classical form, postmodern invention, and urban influences in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, October 18, at 8pm, and Sunday, October 19, at 3pm. Tackling subject matter from the Emancipation Proclamation to the end of Apartheid in South Africa, and set to a score that incorporates contemporary cello, soul favorites, and more, “The Watershed” is at once an elegant, physically electrifying choreographic work and a provocative sociopolitical reflection.
A Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award recipient, MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, and critically lauded choreographer who pairs diverse movement styles with issues of social and historical significance. A co-presentation with Jacob’s Pillow, made possible by the Irene Hunter Fund for Dance, “The Watershed” is part of a body of new work by Kyle Abraham exploring themes of particular political and historical relevance. “The Watershed” commemorates 150 years since Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and 20 years since the abolishment of Apartheid in South Africa.
Abraham combines contemporary and classical music and movement in a reflection on the past grounded in the avant-garde, with choreography tracing effortlessly from serpentine ripples to abrupt sharpness. “The Watershed” draws inspiration from noted composer and percussionist Max Roach’s album “We Insist: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” created and recorded in commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation. Scenic design by visual artist Glenn Ligon, known for his work with text that often deals with issues of identity, creates an atmospheric onstage environment.
Kyle Abraham was named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow in 2013, the year after he received the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. In 2011, OUT Magazine labeled him the “best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama.” Abraham was born into hip-hop culture in the late 1970s and grounded into an artistic upbringing in classical cello, piano, and the visual arts. The goal of Abraham’s movement is to delve into identity in relation to a personal history. Abraham recently created a new work, “Counterpoint,” for seven members of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which premiered at the Chicago Dancing Festival as one of three world premieres commissioned by the festival; other commissions include Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and many others, and he continues to choreograph for his own company of astonishing dancers.
Abraham established Abraham.In.Motion in 2006 with a mission to create an evocative interdisciplinary body of work. The work of A/I/M intertwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on sound, human behavior, and all things visual in an effort to create an avenue for personal investigation and exposure on stage. A/I/M is a representation of dancers from various disciplines and diverse personal backgrounds who come together to create fresh and unique movement. Abraham.In.Motion appeared at the Pillow most recently in 2013, following engagements in 2011 and 2010; Kyle Abraham also recently choreographed and performed at the Pillow with New York City Ballet Principal Wendy Whelan in the world premiere of Restless Creature.
Following the performance, Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director Ella Baff will lead a post-show discussion with artists from Abraham.In.Motion.