poster for Gesel Mason's No BoundariesSOLO DANCES IN CELEBRATION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences and with support from the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, University Auxiliary Services and Holiday Inn Express, is pleased to present Gesel Mason in No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 7:30pm.

Celebrating the depth and diversity of style and vision in the field of modern dance, the original and historical solo works chosen by Mason for the performance represent almost seven decades of choreographic vision by, for and about African-Americans. The program will feature You Are Why! by Rennie Harris, Artistic Director of Rennie Harris PureMovement; Jumping the Broom by David Roussève, Artistic Director of David Roussève/REALITY; Bent by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Founding Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women and Saturday’s Child by Donald McKayle, former dancer with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Anna Sokolow and Charles Wiedman.  Two works choreographed by Mason, No Less Black and How to Watch a Modern Dance Concert or What in the Hell are They Doing On Stage, will also be included. The dances are seamlessly interspersed with taped interviews of the choreographers discussing their creative process, cultural influences and perspectives on Black Dance.  At the end of the performance, Mason will participate in a talkback with the audience.

The Washington Post called it “an ambitious, riveting and impressively executed program.  It was the sort of performance that in any other realm would enshrine her among a select few standouts. You could compare it to a pitcher's no-hitter, a senator's 12-hour filibuster, a lone cyclist's daylong, head-into-the-wind breakaway in the Tour de France.”

The performance marks a return for Mason who brought her company to the UAlbany campus last season for performances of Women, Sex and Desire and a series of workshops in conjunction with the University’s Sexuality Month initiative. 

Gesel Mason has been a company member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects and has performed with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah and Chuck Davis.  Mason was selected Emerging Choreographer by the Bates Dance Festival, received a 2007 Millennium Stage Local Dance Commissioning Project from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and was awarded in 2009 the University of Utah’s first Distinguished Alumna Award in Fine Arts and the Pola Nirenska Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. Her choreography has been presented by numerous venues and festivals including Joyce SoHo; 651 Arts; South Dallas Cultural Center; Painted Bride; Dance Place; International Contemporary Dance Conference and Performance Festival in Bytom, Poland; DanceAfrica and the International Association of Blacks in Dance. She is currently on the faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder.

No Boundaries was co-commissioned by 651 Arts in Brooklyn and Dance Place in Washington DC with support from the National Performance Network Creation Fund funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.  In 2008-09, the New England Foundation for the Arts included it in the National Dance Project and it received two Metro DC awards in 2007.  Other choreographers whose work has been included on the program for other performances are Bebe Miller, Reggie Wilson and Andrea Woods. 

Advance tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff.  Tickets purchased on the day of the show are $20 for the general public and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff.  For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

The performance will be preceded by three days of residency by Mason in the Capital Region. She will be offering lectures and master classes at Skidmore College, Russell Sage College and the Emma Willard School.  The UAlbany residency and performance is being coordinated in conjunction with the Department of Dance and Theatre at SUNY Potsdam where Mason will be teaching and performing for three days prior to her time here.  Both residencies are supported by the NYS DanceForce with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts..