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Pam Tanowitz Dance Makes Bard SummerScape Debut with Triple Bill, Featuring World Premiere of Solo for Ashley Tuttle and Live Music by FLUX Quartet (June 27 & 28)

“The dance steps, phrases and constructions by the choreographer Pam Tanowitz are among the finest being made anywhere today.”  – New York Times

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY: Bard SummerScape 2015 presents the Fisher Center debut of New York’s Pam Tanowitz Dance this summer, showcasing the choreography of Bessie Award-winner Pam Tanowitz. A triple bill, the program features the world premiere of Tanowitz’s Untitled (solo for Ashley Tuttle), set to music by Mexico’s Carlos Chávez – subject of the 2015 Bard Music Festival – and danced by former American Ballet Theatre principal Ashley Tuttle. Bookending the new work are two of Tanowitz’s most recent ensemble pieces, Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy) and Heaven on One’s Head, named “Among 2014’s Best” by the New York Times, with live music from FLUX Quartet, which “has brought a new renaissance to string quartet music” (Village Voice). Staged in two performances on June 27 and 28, the triple bill takes place in Sosnoff Theater in the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center on Bard College’s glorious Hudson River campus.

Pam Tanowitz has proven herself “the wittiest choreographer since Mark Morris” (New York Times). Offering an unflinchingly post-modern treatment of classical and modern dance vocabulary, her work is marked by its “sharp, off-kilter energy [and] strange skewed beauty” (Dance Magazine). Since founding Pam Tanowitz Dance in 2000, she has been recognized with the 2009 Bessie Award, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2013-14 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University.

World premiere of Untitled (solo for Ashley Tuttle), set to music by Chávez
As in previous seasons, SummerScape 2015 takes its inspiration from the Bard Music Festival, which turns for the first time this year to Latin America with a celebration of “Carlos Chávez and His World.” The central figure in 20th-century Mexican music, Chávez composed his Sonatina for violin and piano (1924) during the cultural renaissance that followed his homeland’s ten-year revolution. In her new work, Untitled (solo for Ashley Tuttle), Tanowitz draws on Chávez’s modernist language in an en pointe solo created for Ashley Tuttle. A former prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre, where her career spanned 17 seasons, Tuttle’s honors include both Tony and Fred Astaire Dance Award nominations. She previously collaborated with Tanowitz on 2012’s Untitled (the Blue Ballet), in which her performance had “a revelatory force” (New York Times). In Bard’s world premiere presentation of the choreographer’s new dance, Tuttle will dance to a live rendition of the Chávez sonatina by another trusted Tanowitz collaborator, Grammy Award-nominated violinist Pauline Kim Harris, with Michael Scales, music director of New York Theatre Ballet, on piano. Tanowitz describes the starting point for her new work:

“I am fascinated by the tension between the old and the new, the known and the unknown, and the space of transition from one to the other. I thrive on risk and challenge, and my work straddles aesthetics and breaks the unwritten codes and formulas of dance genres. I am especially interested in how dancers carry classical ballets in their bodies like personal history, since often ballet dancers have been training and performing from a very young age, developing their personalities alongside their craft. Working with Ashley allows me to examine classic ideas of beauty, femininity, grace and purity against contemporary images of these same characteristics, allowing audiences to be pulled back and forth by the uncanny sense of the familiar in the unfamiliar.”

Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy)
Inspired by a J.D. Salinger story, Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy) examines romantic intimacy by playing with conventions of dance and cinema. Tanowitz explains:

“As Salinger satirized the clichéd boy-meets-girl narrative formula, Broken Story is my attempt to subvert the history, structure, conventions, and symbolism of a well-worn choreographic device: the pas de deux. I am intrigued by the challenge of using a form with so much physical intimacy to convey a story in which the lovers never meet face to face.”

Her choreography is set to music for string quartet by contemporary composers David Lang, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize, Caroline Shaw, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, and Ted Hearne, of whom the Los Angeles Times writes: “No single artist embodies the post-genre Brooklyn scene, but Hearne may be its most zealous auteur.” Their works will be performed live by FLUX Quartet, a group at the forefront of the new music scene since its founding in the late 1990s.

Commissioned by Works & Process at the Guggenheim, Broken Story received its premiere at the Guggenheim Museum in February 2014, and the critical response was elated. “Ecstatic is a good word for how it made me feel,” declared the New York Times. “Following an eccentric line, Ms. Tanowitz dodges sentimentality and sneaks up on deep emotion.” As for the choreographer’s collaborators, all of whom are returning for the SummerScape revival, the Times praised the “resourceful lighting design by Davison Scandrett and costumes by Reid Bartelme,” and concluded that the dancers “could hardly be better.

Heaven on One’s Head
It was when Heaven on One’s Head premiered at New York’s Joyce Theatre in February 2014 that the New York Times observed: “The dance steps, phrases and constructions by the choreographer Pam Tanowitz are among the finest being made anywhere today,” going on to name the virtuosic ensemble piece one of the year’s best. Tanowitz’s dance is set to the First and Third String Quartets of innovative American experimentalist Conlon Nancarrow, a contemporary of Chávez, who relocated from New York to Mexico to escape persecution as a Communist. Nancarrow’s quartets will be performed live by the FLUX Quartet, as at last year’s premiere, when the Financial Times noted: “The variously spiky, plucky and ethereal Nancarrow string quartets Nos. 1 and 3, performed live by the excellent FLUX ensemble, perfectly complemented the choreography.”

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SummerScape has presented significant dance performances each summer since 2005. In 2013, to celebrate the centenary of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the festival co-commissioned A Rite, a new dance-theater piece from the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and SITI Company, and last season saw the return to Bard of the Trisha Brown Dance Company, making its farewell tour of proscenium stages.


Dance at Bard SummerScape 2015

Pam Tanowitz Dance & FLUX Quartet

Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy)
Choreography: Pam Tanowitz
Danced by Maggie Cloud, Dylan Crossman, Stuart Singer, and Melissa Toogood
Music: Caroline Shaw (1655); David Lang (almost all the time); and Ted Hearne (For David Lang)
Played by FLUX Quartet (Tom Chiu, violin; Conrad Harris, violin; Max Mandel, viola; Felix Fan, cello)
Lighting design: Davison Scandrett
Costume design: Reid Bartelme

Untitled (solo for Ashley Tuttle)
World premiere
Choreography: Pam Tanowitz
Danced by Ashley Tuttle
Music: Carlos Chávez (Sonatina for Violin and Piano)
Played by Pauline Kim Harris, violin; Michael Scales, piano
Lighting design: Davison Scandrett
Costume design: Reid Bartelme

Heaven on One’s Head
Choreography: Pam Tanowitz
Danced by Andrew Champlin, Maggie Cloud, Dylan Crossman, Sarah Haarman, Lindsey Jones, Vincent McCloskey, Stuart Singer, and Melissa Toogood
Music: Conlon Nancarrow (String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3)
Played by FLUX Quartet (Tom Chiu, violin; Conrad Harris, violin; Max Mandel, viola; Felix Fan, cello)
Lighting design: Davison Scandrett
Costume design: Reid Bartelme

Sosnoff Theater
Sat, June 27 at 8 pm
Sun, June 28 at 3 pm*

Tickets start at $25

* Round-trip bus service from Manhattan is provided exclusively to ticket-holders for the matinee on Sunday, June 28. A reservation is required, and may be made by calling the box office at 845-758-7900 or by selecting this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40, and the bus departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets, at 11am on June 28. Visit for more information.

SummerScape 2015: other key performance dates by genre

Bard Music Festival, Weekend One: “The Musical Voice of Mexico” (Aug 7–9)
Bard Music Festival, Weekend Two: “Mexico, Latin America, and Modernism” (Aug 13–16)

Ethel Smyth: The Wreckers
Sosnoff Theater
July 24* & 31 at 7:30 pm
July 26*, 29 & Aug 2* at 2 pm
Tickets start at $25

Rodgers and Hammerstein: Oklahoma!
LUMA Theater
June 25, 26, 27, July 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 & 19 at 7:30 pm
June 28*, July 1, 4, 5, 8, 11, 12*, 15, 18 & 19* at 2 pm
Tickets start at $25

Fernando Rubio: Everything by my side
Fisher Center lawn
July 9, 10, 11 & 12 at 5 pm
July 10 at 2 pm
July 11 & 12 at 12 pm
Tickets: $5 (not discounted in subscription packages)

“Reinventing Mexico”
Saturday, July 11 to Sunday, Aug 2
Ottaway Film Center
Tickets: $10

Hosted by Justin Vivian Bond
Live Music, Cabaret, Festival Dining, and After Hours salon
Dates, times, and prices vary

SummerScape opera, theater, and dance performances and most Bard Music Festival programs are held in the Sosnoff Theater or LUMA Theater in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and celebrated since its opening as a major architectural landmark in the region. Some chamber programs and other BMF events are in Olin Hall, Oklahoma! is in LUMA Theater, and Everything by my side takes place out of doors. The Spiegeltent has its own schedule of events, in addition to serving as a restaurant, café, and bar before and after performances. Film Series screenings are at the Jim Ottaway Jr. Film Center in the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Center.

New York City Round-Trip Coach Transportation:
To make a reservation on the round-trip SummerScape coach provided exclusively to ticket holders for specific performances indicated by * in the listings above, call the box office at 845-758-7900 or select this option when purchasing tickets. The round-trip fare is $40 and reservations are required. The coach departs from behind Lincoln Center, on Amsterdam Avenue between 64th and 65th Street. Find additional details at:


Bard SummerScape Ticket Information

For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit Fisher Center members receive priority access to the best seats in advance, and those who join the Center’s email list receive advance booking opportunities as well as regular news and updates. For further information, visit

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© 21C Media Group, May 2015

Photo: Christopher Duggan

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