poster for Abby Z and the New Utility

Dance in Albany Series Continues with Abandoned Playground

The UAlbany Performing Arts Center, operating under the auspices of the College of Arts and Sciences and with support from the University at Albany Foundation, Office of Intercultural Student Engagement and University Auxiliary Services, is pleased to present Abby Z and the New Utility in Abandoned Playground on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 7:30pm.  The company’s performance is the fourth offering in Dance in Albany, a joint series presented by The Egg and UAlbany Performing Arts Center.

Combining elements of hip-hop, punk, West African and street dance, nine dancers rip through the space performing complex sequences of extreme physicality in Abby Zbikowski’s Abandoned Playground, a hyper-kinetic contest of virtuosity and daring that challenges the performers own understanding of their capabilities and endurance.  The New York Times review began with the question: “Dance show or sporting event?” and then went on to say, “‘Abandoned Playground’ pits these dancer-athletes against the limits of their own strength and endurance, and they triumph. The audience, seated onstage, surrounds the performers on four sides, heightening the tension.”  Describing the movement, the reviewer called it "an onslaught of thwacking arms, emphatic kicks, dizzying spins, swift somersaults, perilous balances and slippery contortions.”  

Zbikowski is a choreographer, Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and faculty member at the American Dance Festival. She has been an artist in residence as part of the nEW Festival in Philadelphia, American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival. Zbikowski has studied intensively at Germaine Acogny's L'École de Sables in Senegal, holds a BFA in dance from Temple University and an MFA in dance from Ohio State University. As a performer, she worked with Charles O. Anderson/dance theater X, Vincent Mantsoe and the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. She has taught technique and creative process abroad at the Academy of Culture in Riga, Latvia as part of GPS (Global Practice Sharing) sponsored by Movement Research.  In 2017, Zbikowksi won the Juried Bessie Award, chosen by a trio of acclaimed choreographers.

“I make contemporary dance works that pay homage to the effort of living, tactics of survival and the aesthetics produced as a result,” explains Zbikowski, “citing my practice of Afro-Diasporic dance forms, hip-hop, tap and West African as major influences on my sensibilities.  I formed the New Utility to experiment with the potential and choreographic possibility of the body being pushed beyond its perceived limits.”

Major support for the company’s performance at UAlbany is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, New York State DanceForce/Bessies Residency Fund, Jerome Robbins Foundation and Mertz Gilmore Foundation.

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 (pending availability) 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 next performance in the Dance in Albany series is Ephrat Asherie Dance at UAlbany on February 16, 2019.  The remainder of the series takes place at The Egg with performances by Malpaso Dance Company on March 8, Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company on April 12, Pilobolus Dance Theatre on April 27 and Jason Smith Samuels & Seema Mehta on May 11.