Chris Ferris & Dancers: Unquantifiable

Sunday, February 17, 2019 @ 8:00 pm

Chris Ferris & Dancers’s Unquantifiable incorporates a cast of 11 dancers and musicians delving into the compositional and improvisational expression of how to survive a crowd or enjoy it. Each individual performer is a strong force as they embody many ways of moving and sounding, reflecting individuality that only happens because there is a group. The masses vs. the individual are brought forth in this suite of movement and music. The choreography is by Chris Ferris and composition/direction is by Loren Kiyoshi Dempster.

Unquantifiable varies highly detailed set work with structured improvisation. In the set works actions match up unpredictably with patterns of shape, tempo, direction and human interaction. Chris Ferris & Dancers is about complicated design with the human element. In the improvisations, the performers incorporate another thought process that allows interactions to happen based on their unpredictable choices.

Unquantifiable is a suite of the following works: Continental Divide is a dance with six zones each with a way of playing music or dancing. As the performers move through the zones they must reflect the area they are in but in the end, all rules are to be broken. Spectral Lines is a solo about the enjoyment of being alone and self-comforting. The dancer indulges in having a dance floor to herself. Spectator Sport structures improvisation with a cast of musicians that love to move with or without their instruments. It incorporates a reflection of the audience, without being intimidating, connecting all members of the room. How to Survive a Crowd is “how much can happen at once and still make sense.” This “hardcore” set dance is a direct contrast to the improvisation. There is a surprise at every turn with precision timing from a cast of highly technical dancers.

Chris Ferris & Dancers is unique in that set dances are created without music and then music is made with a score or structured improvisation created by Dempster. When the music is introduced the dancers, who become accustomed to listening to each other, interact with the sound further developing the dimensionalities in which the dance is performed. Musicians will move throughout the space using wireless pickups to play an “electro-acoustic score” mixed and created by Dempster.

Choreography: Chris Ferris
Music Director/Composer: Loren Kiyoshi Dempster (cello, computer)

Musicians: Jon Hanrahan (Piano, Melodica), Gabriel Peterson (Saxophone), and
Kyle Stalsberg (Viola, Electric Violin)

Dancers: Meghan Connolly, Anastasia Ellis, Victoria Ellis, Vanessa Ferranti,
Bethany Logan, and Diane Skerbec.


Chris Ferris is the artistic director of Chris Ferris & Dancers. Her work is based on an exploration of movement from a sculptural, dynamic, and emotional point of view. Her work has appeared throughout New York City, including at Roulette’s Greene Street and Brooklyn locations. Recent notable performances include The REAL Suite at Fast Forward, Dixon Place September 2018. Selections from The REAL Suite and the Rampaging Light suite were presented at Roulette in February 2018 and at Second Sundays, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House March 2018. Rampaging Light was presented in 2017 as part of The Waxing Crescent – an evening of dance and music curated by Ferris at NY City Center Studios and at Take Root, Green Space Studio in 2016. Perfect Tension was presented at the Martha Graham Studio Theater in 2014 after premiering at FLICfest in January 2014. Urban Pastoral, an outdoor improvisation with ten sculptural lights, ten dancers, and live music was presented in June 2015 at Socrates Sculpture Park, Battery Park City NYC, and Carl Schurz Park. In its Spring 2014, Ferris & Dancers performed at Central Park NYC and Squibb Park/Bridge and in the fall of 2013 at the Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn Bridge Park. Her work has also been presented at the High Line, CPR, the Joyce, WAXworks at Triskelion Arts, Green Space Blooms, Sans Limites Dance Festival, and Movement Research at Judson Church.

Loren Kiyoshi Dempster uses a combination of cello, computer, electronics, composition, improvisation, notated scores, and world music influences to create and perform music. He is deeply interested in the relationships between movement, space, and sound, and has created and performed music with many collaborators, including Trio Tritticali, Tad’s Living Room, Harrison Atelier, BK Soul, Chris Ferris, projectLIMB, Dahlia Nayar, Lower Left, and Margaret Paek. His compositions have been presented at The Stone, Roulette, Issue Project Room, Weseleyn College, and at Chez Bushwick, a 2007 Bessie Award-winning performance arts space of which he was a founding member. He toured extensively with Merce Cunningham performing Interscape and Biped. Recently moved to Appleton, WI from Queens, NY, Dempster has taught as a Lecturer at Lawrence University and as a guest artist at Renaissance High School for the Arts. He has performed in the Fox Cities area at Lawrence University, Kohler Arts Center, Artists Guild, The Source, the Draw, and the 602 Club. For more information: www.lorendempster.com

Jon Hanrahan, a pianist, is also a producer for the national news analysis program On the Media, from WNYC. He has previously produced for WQXR’s Meet the Composer. Prior to his work in radio, he studied piano under Michael Mizrahi at Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music.

Gabriel Peterson is a saxophonist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. He has presented work at Appleton Wisconsin’s The Draw as well as HECK and Triskelion Arts Center in Brooklyn. He holds a degree in Saxophone Performance from Lawrence University Conservatory of Music.

With a passion for cross-collaboration and gnarly experimentation, Kyle Stalsberg is an emerging contemporary-classical violist based in New York City. Performing with chamber ensembles including Levels and Lilith, Stalsberg advocates strongly for the promotion and study of living composers. Within the 2015-2016 year, Kyle received funding from the Alyssa Paul Maria Fund and the Chandler Endowment, which assisted in commissioning works from acclaimed composers such as Andrew Cole, Lawton Hall, and Evan Williams. He was also selected as a recipient of the Mellon Grant for his project, “Songs of Survivors: How Music Empowers Marginalized Communities,” a proposal for which he has also named a semifinalist for the prestigious Watson Fellowship. Stalsberg currently performs on Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera and enjoys teaching kindergartners violin. A Wisconsin native, Kyle received his B.M. in Viola Performance at Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music, where he studied under the tutelage of Matthew Michelic. In May, he earned his Masters of Music in Viola Performance at New York University, studying with Artist Faculty Karen Ritscher.

Meghan Connolly (dancer) graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance and an emphasis in ballet. She has studied and performed works of Alejandro Cerrudo, Mats Ek, Nacho Duato, and Sharon Eyal. Meghan has also had the opportunity to work with Sidra Bell, Helen Simoneau, Jeanne Solan, Zoe Scofield, Brian Brooks, and Ebony Williams. Most recently she has performed in Aida for the Sarasota Opera Company under Miro Magloire’s direction, performed for Refinery29 at a woman’s empowerment event, participated in the Battery Dance Festival with TRAC, and performed for Regina Nejman in the La Mama Moves! Dance festival.

Anastasia Ellis (dancer) is a freelance dancer based in New York City. She graduated from Butler University with a degree in Dance Performance in 2015. Anastasia is a company member of ALDEN MOVES Dance Theater and is excited to join Chris Ferris & Dancers this season.

Victoria Ellis (dancer) is originally from Vestal, NY. She earned her BFA in Contemporary Dance in 2015 from The Boston Conservatory. Victoria now works as a freelance dancer based in NYC. Here she has had the pleasure of performing with SYREN Modern Dance, CaptiveFlow Dance, LEMI Collective, and Advanced Curation, among others. Victoria is thrilled to be performing with Chris Ferris & Dancers.

Vanessa Ferranti (dancer) is from Long Island, NY. She earned a BFA in Dance from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program in May of 2012, where she performed the original works of Alvin Ailey, Robert Battle, Joyce Trisler, Camille A. Brown, Sidra Bell, Anna Sokolow, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Scott Rink and more. During her senior year, she was invited to study with Jennifer Muller/The Works as part of the Scholarship/Apprentice Program. Vanessa currently dances with Dance Visions NY, an Isadora Duncan repertoire company. She is thrilled to join Chris Ferris & Dancers in this opportunity to perform and share the wonderful gift of dance!

Bethany Logan (dancer) graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in Dance & Choreography, a Minor in Psychology, and is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher and a Certified Personal Trainer. She is thrilled to perform with Chris Ferris & Dancers and also dances with BABEL Movement and Josh Pacheco Dance. Past performances include Olivia Dwyer Dance Projects, Kelly Donovan & Dancers, The Physical Plant, Sandra Kramerova & Artists, The Median Movement, and Doug Neilson. Logan’s choreography has been performed throughout New York City, at the American College Dance Association Gala Concert, University of Dayton, and in Mumbai, India, where she danced with Navdhara India Dance Theatre.

Diane Lynn Skerbec (dancer), from Cleveland, Ohio, received her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography Cum Laude from Kent State University. in 2012. After graduating, she studied with Jennifer Muller as a scholarship student. Miss Skerbec is currently dancing with NYC-based companies Chris Ferris & Dancers (director Chris Ferris) and Sleepdance (director Stephanie Sleeper), along with project-based company Tenth Intervention (curators Dorian Wallace and Hajnal Pivnik). Previous company work included Kinetic Architecture Dance Theatre (director Arrie Davidson) and JT Lotus Dance Company (director Jessie Tomanek). Alongside performing, Miss Skerbec has taught dance in several public schools, non- profit community centers, and dance studios throughout the city. She is currently an Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Scholar in the Hunter College Dance Education Masters of Art program and teaches elementary students at PS255 in Brooklyn.


Photo: Eric Bandiero

Chris Ferris & Dancers: UNQUANTIFIABLE is presented as part of DANCEROULETTE and is supported, in part, by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.