poster for Dancing Henry FiveDAVID GORDON’S DANCING HENRY FIVE

The University at Albany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences, is pleased to present David Gordon’s Pick Up Performance Co(s) in a performance of Dancing Henry Five on Friday, October 28, 2011 at 8pm. Directed, choreographed and designed by Obie & Bessie award winner and Guggenheim fellow David Gordon, this whirlwind reduction of Shakespeare’s Henry V is told through an innovative mélange of movement, theatre, narration, music by William Walton from the 1940s film and the voices of Laurence Olivier & Christopher Plummer to convey the story of Henry’s ascension to the throne of Britain and his defeat of the French at the Battle of Agincourt.

This imaginative dance/theater work was originally commissioned by Danspace Project in 2004. The New York Times deemed it “a delightful and accomplished evening of theater that sweeps its audiences along in a stylish, essentially feel-good theatrical experience” while the Washington Post called it “a witty, occasionally chilling hour-long reduction of the Shakespeare play…”The Star Tribune claimed, “Gordon has condensed Shakespeare’s sprawling historical epic into a layered novella of marvelous stagecraft, economical movement and emotional subtlety” while the Associated Press declared it is, “ as much about the art of performing as the moralities of war.” The show is being reconstructed for performances at Columbia College, Montclair State University and the UAlbany Performing Arts Center with funding through a National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece Dance Program.

Appearing in the title role will be Robert La Fosse, former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet. He has danced leading roles in many full-length ballets and originated roles in works by Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp and Peter Martins. He performed on Broadway in Bob Fosse's Dancin' and' Broadway, for which he received a Tony nomination.  La Fosse joins the ensemble of seven dancers including Karen Graham and narrator Valda Setterfield.

David Gordon has been constructing dance and theater events for the Pick Up Performance Co(s) for forty years. His awards include two Obies, three Bessies, two Dramalogues, two Guggenheims, two Pew Charitable Trust Grants (in both Theater and Dance) and three National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece grants.  Commissions for directing and/or choreographing include Actors Studio, American Ballet Theater, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Barbican (London), BBC Channel 4, British Dance Umbrella, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dance Theater of Harlem, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace, Guthrie Theater, Joyce Theater, The Kitchen, KTCA Alive TV, Mark Taper Forum, New York Theater Workshop, On The Boards (Seattle, WA), PBS Great Performances, Serious Fun @ Lincoln Center, Spoleto USA, Theater For a New Audience, Walker Art Center and White Oak Dance Project. He is a current member of the Actors Studio and Center for Creative Research and formerly was panel chair for the National Endowment of the Arts Dance program. Gordon was a performer with both the Yvonne Rainer and James Waring Companies and was a founding artist of both the Grand Union and Judson Church Performances.

The Pick Up Performance Co., Inc. was founded in 1971 to facilitate projects by David Gordon. The company was expanded in 1992 to include projects by Ain Gordon (David’s son)and subsequently renamed The Pick Up Performance Co(s) in recognition of the company’s plural artistic leadership with individual yearly projectsFrom his seminal beginnings as a founding artist in the Judson Dance Theater, David Gordon has purposefully examined and expanded the line between theater and dance and pioneered the use of text and textual narrative in movement work.  In this early work, Gordon not only presaged his later writing and directing for the stage but also predated the live theater form which came to be known as “performance art.” Cementing his dual status as a dance and theater artist, Gordon was awarded a Pew Charitable Trust National Dance Residency grant and National Theater Residency grant in successive years. In 1992, Ain Gordon joined the company as Co-Director.  In 1993, Ain and David Gordon collaborated on The Family Business (as writers, directors, and performers) and received an OBIE for their work. In recent years, at the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov, David Gordon directed, choreographed and wrote narration for a tribute to and revival of dance/theater work from the Judson Church era that toured nationally and internationally.  His work has also been recently seen at the Joyce Theater, The Actor’s Studio, the Barbican in London, On the Boards in Seattle, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival at the Harvey and Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church.

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

There will also be a special morning matinee performance of Dancing Henry Five for high school groups on Friday, October 28 at 11am.   Information and reservations for this matinee are available by calling the Performing Arts Center office at (518) 442-5738.

Support provided by Holiday Inn Express, University at Albany Foundation and University Auxiliary Services