The University at Albany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences, is pleased to present Gesel Mason Performance Projectsin Women, Sex and Desire on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 7:30pm.

Part dance, part theatre and part talk show, the performance is a multi-media investigation on how women navigate sex, desire, choice and perception. It challenges stereotypes, assumptions and conventional wisdom along with reflecting the struggle, humor and pleasure we encounter as sexual beings.  By combining real stories, actual people, pop culture and a diverse movement vocabulary ranging from post-modern to hip hop to pole dancing, the performance has been described as entertaining, insightful, honest, risky and risqué.  Note: The show contains mature subject matter and nudity.

Women, Sex and Desire was commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, where the students and community were involved in developing the show through focus groups, interviews and identity workshops, and was a National Performance Network Creation Fund recipient.  It premiered in 2010 and has since been seen at Joyce SoHo (NYC), Dance Place (Washington DC), ProArts Collective (Austin, TX), Dance Umbrella and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Gesel Mason Performance Projects is a project based dance company that utilizes art as a vehicle to encourage compassion and inquiry. The company’s award winning projects are “socially relevant,” “emotionally resonant” and “impressively executed” (Washington Post).  Artistic Director Gesel Mason uses a distinctive blend of dance, theater, storytelling and humor to bring visibility to voices unheard, situations neglected or perspectives considered taboo. In this work, she endeavors to show the honesty, struggle, frustration, celebration, honor and humor of realistically coming to realize who and what we are as sexual beings.

Gesel Mason has been a company member of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and Ralph Lemon/Cross Performance Projects (with whom she danced at EMPAC this past November) and has performed with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah and Chuck Davis.  Ms. 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 in 2009 was awarded 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; the 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.

“Gesel Mason understands how to move her audience to tears and laughter. Though trained as a dancer, it's her talents for blending video, text and movement that make her company, Gesel Mason Performance Projects, so engaging to watch.” (Washington Post)

Tickets for Women, Sex and Desire are $15 for the general public and $12 for seniors and UAlbany faculty-staff.  The first 100 UAlbany students with ID can obtain a free ticket for admission while all other student tickets are $10.  For reservations and further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

Women, Sex and Desire is scheduled in conjunction with UAlbany’s Sexuality Month, an initiative currently spearheaded by the University Counseling Center’s Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program and the Student Association who jointly coordinate and offer an educational series of events addressing gender issues, identity, love, sexual orientation, women’s & men’s health, prevention of sexual assault & harassment, contraception & reproductive issues and HIV/IAIDS & other STIs.  Celebrating its 30th anniversary this February, the initiative began as a single week promoting sexual health education and has grown over the years in size and scope.

The company will be on campus for three days prior to the performance conducting workshops and sessions with specific student groups, clubs and classes.  Support for this residency has been provided by the New York State DanceForce with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts Dance Program, the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, University Auxiliary Services and Holiday Inn Express.

In coordination with the Emma Willard School in Troy, Gesel Mason will be a guest artist of the Dance Department before and after the company’s residency at UAlbany. She will teach classes, set a work on the student dance company and present an assembly program to the school’s community.