Program: Boston Dance Theater

October 22 & 23
Institute of Contemporary Arts/Boston


December 15, 2019, was the last time our company stepped onto a theater stage to perform in front of a live audience. At that time my friend and mentor, David Henry (Former Bill T. Jones Director and Curator of Performing Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston) wrote, “Here’s hoping that the love, ambition, moxie, support, and magical thinking that has brought Boston Dance Theater (BDT) this far is sustained for many years to come.”  

Little did we know what lay ahead of us in 2020 and 2021. Little did I know just how much moxie, grit, and support from our community it was going to take to bring us back to the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and to sustain our work through a global pandemic. We have all been touched by loss, whether it be the loss of loved ones, jobs, relationships, space, freedoms, or traditions. Our earth’s cries are now impossible to ignore as fires consume towns, and floods obliterate entire city blocks in minutes. The world as we knew it is no longer. 

Yet we remain. All of us here, together. We understand the power of artistic expression to inspire and to gather people in community — to give hope and to heal through the shared experience of something that cannot be put into words, something that is beyond the right here and right now. Thank you for being with us today. The program we present this season pairs two of our favorite repertory pieces by Micaela Taylor and Marco Goecke with two premiere works by Rena Butler and Rosie Herrera. The performance of Butler’s and Herrera’s pieces marks the start of BDT’s brand new program, The Carol Kaye Project.

The Carol Kaye Project celebrates seminal bassist Carol Kaye’s life and breadth of work, consisting of dance works by a variety of American women choreographers. Kaye played on an estimated ten thousand recording sessions, with everyone from the Beach Boys to Marvin Gaye, yet remains relatively unknown. BDT aims to build this program over the next couple of years, commissioning a total of four to six artists. Tony-nominated choreographer Karole Armitage will contribute a third piece to the program later this year. In January 2021 Dance Magazine acknowledged the innovation of The Carol Kaye Project, adding BDT to its “Top 25 to Watch in 2021” list. Chief editor Jennifer Stahl wrote, “By consistently making these kinds of savvy curatorial choices—and pulling them off with finesse—BDT's quickly grown into a company with appeal far beyond Boston's city limits.” 

Rena Butler grew up in Chicago and, as an African-American choreographer, her artistry aims to be accessible, inclusive, and anti-homogenization. For the Record is a work that examines the discography of Kaye, and the scale of her contributions and influence from the past until now. Butler states, “The work references repeated patterns and the various ways a patriarchal society often overlooks substantial voices by othering them.” Butler also created the patchwork-like sound score which asynchronously brings together recordings on which Kaye played, an interview about her life, and a YouTube recording of a contemporary bassist teaching Kaye’s lines from the Four Tops 1967s hit “Bernadette.” 

While Cuban-American choreographer Rosie Herrera has intentionally left her work with no official description, hallmarks of her playful yet spiritually resonant choreographic practice seep through via images of motherhood, desire, sacrifice, and “just getting on with it.” The longest section of the work is a solo in which the performer wears layers and layers of clothing that seem to take forever to remove to reveal what lies beneath. 

About Taylor and Goecke’s works David Henry wrote: “I had a thought introduces us to Micaela Taylor’s choreography, a unique combination of contemporary modern technique and hip-hop that she refers to as ‘contemporary pop.’  Here, the LA-based choreographer confronts the world of distractions that we live in. Throughout the 15-minute dance, five dancers move in and out of unison, on count and then off, together before breaking apart. Taylor asks the dancers and the audience to resist mental distractions and get back to the dance itself.  

“German choreographer Marco Goecke gives the company a different challenge in Peekaboo. With his background making dance for major ballet companies around the world, he has given BDT a work based in classical technique, emphasized by the symphonic music of British composer Benjamin Britten. But Goecke has his contemporary and intriguing idiosyncrasies as demonstrated by the runaway bowler hats and the mashing of the symphony with a Finnish men’s choir. Those bowlers also serve as one of many ways the dance explores the act of concealing and revealing, the contrasts at the core of the dance (a concept also explored in the ICA/Boston’s architecture).” 

As we move our work into the next season of change, I am encouraged to know that, despite the challenges we have faced and continue to face, the magic of the arts (which has spanned the ages) remains very much alive. As artists we believe that we have a responsibility to use our work as a platform to address the gaps in our community’s systems and social practices. This year has forced us to stop, slow down, reconsider, and re-evaluate. This time has revealed that there are many critical needs, injustices, and conflicts that remain to be addressed on varying social, political, and interpersonal levels. I’m looking forward to continuing to understand how BDT fits into that mission, and I thank you for being part of our journey. 

-Jessie Jeanne Stinnett, Boston Dance Theater Founder & Co-Director 

Program Order

Ofrenda, Rosie Herrera in collaboration with the dancers
For the Record, Rena Butler
I had a thought, Micaela Taylor
Peekaboo, Marco Goecke

Boston Dance Theater

Core Dance members

Gabriela M. Amy-Moreno
Isvel Bello Rodriguez
Olivia Coombs
Khris Henry
Henoch Spinola
Jessie Jeanne Stinnett

Dance Trainees

Carley Lund
Sarah Takash

Choreographers and Artistic Directors 

Christopher Annas-Lee — BDT Lighting Designer/Production Manager
Rena Butler — Choreographer
Itzik Galili — BDT Co-Artistic Director 
Marco Goecke — Choreographer
Rosie Herrera — Choreographer 
Zane Kealey — BDT Costume Designer 
Thomas Lempertz — Goecke Costume Designer
Jessie Jeanne Stinnett — BDT Founder, Co-Artistic Director
Micaela Taylor — Choreographer

Program Notes
About Boston Dance Theater
Production Credits
A Conversation With Jessie Jeanne Stinnett and Rosie Herrera

About Global Arts Live

Our mission
Global Arts Live Staff & Board
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