Emerging from long-running experimentation with color, performance artist Elena Demyanenko presents welter, an assemblage of simultaneous solos performed by Chloë Engel, Leah Morrison, and Demyanenko herself. Submerged in a viscous dimension of saturated light designed by Joe Levasseur, the performers are inhabited and transformed by the composite of colors that surround them.
Together with sound artists PussyVision (Finley Janes) the performers use song and sound—incantation and invocation—to evoke something both ancient and essential to emotional survival. Scores on attention and rhythm guide performers to look at the spaces between actions, a state where losing momentum feels important. Friction and asymmetry, both auditory and physical, serve to scramble preconceived notions of form and otherwise inhibit this polyphonic, trancelike condition. Endowing the performers with a force unmediated by language, the spell that takes over results in an uncensored account of desire and its power.
Concept/direction: Elena Demyanenko
Made and performed: Elena Demyanenko, Chloë Engel, and Leah Morrison
Lights: Joe Levasseur
Choreographic assistance: Jon Kinzel
Sound: Finley Janes
Video direction: Mariam Ghani
Costumes: Richard MacPike
This performance was originally scheduled for Spring 2020, but was postponed and rescheduled due to Covid-19. Roulette’s Fall season will be presented virtually and available for free on a variety of streaming platforms. Our theater is currently closed for public performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures that Roulette has put in place to keep staff, artists, and the public safe.
Russian-born Elena Demyanenko is a former member of both the Stephen Petronio Company (2003–2008) and the Trisha Brown Dance Company (2009–2012) and has been performing, teaching, and choreographing in NYC since 2001. Her most recent multimedia project, echo/archive, premiered at EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Troy, NY) in the spring of 2018. Blue Room, made in collaboration with Dai Jian and commissioned by New York Live Arts, was described in The New York Times as “luxurious” and “eloquently meticulous” (Kourlas). Demyanenko was a recipient of a Jerome Robbins Fellowship for the creation, with Joseph Poulson, of Disparate Bodies, which was choreographed and subsequently premiered at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Demyanenko’s other works have been shown at many prestigious venues including Danspace Project (New York), Garage (Moscow), Movement Research at Judson Church, Dance New Amsterdam, Dixon Place, and at the Architecture of Movement Festival (Yaroslavl, Russia). Also a maker of dance films, Demyanenko was the recipient of a Dance Movies Commission by EMPAC and was nominated for the Dance on Camera Jury Prize for her collaboration on Kino Eye. Demyanenko is a member of the dance faculty at Bennington College. ww.elenademyanenko.com
Chloë Engel (she/they) is a performer, improviser, and nanny currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Chloë makes performances about madness, hazy trauma, family, love, and queerness. Chloë’s performance work has been shown at Open Performance, No Theme Festival (Poughkeepsie, NY), Little Berlin (Philadelphia, PA), Middlebury College, and Bennington College. Chloë has had the pleasure of collaborating with Elena Demyanenko, Anna Kroll, Eleanor Bauer, Sam Wentz, and Audre Wirtanen, among others. She teaches a weekly online class called: suggested methods to feel your feelings. chloeengel.org
Mariam Ghani is an artist, writer, and filmmaker. Her work has been presented and collected by museums, festivals, and biennials internationally, notably the Berlinale, Rotterdam, SFFILM, CPH:DOX, and Sheffield Doc/Fest film festivals;
the Sharjah, Liverpool, Yinchuan, and Lahore Biennials; Documenta 13 in Kassel and Kabul, the Dhaka Art Summit, Secession in Vienna, and the CCCB in Barcelona; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston; and MoMA, the Metropolitan Museum, the Queens Museum, and the Guggenheim in New York.
PussyVision (Finley Janes) is a genderqueer performance artist, sound artist, and electronic music producer. Their performances engage harsh noise, experimental vocals, and avant-beats in combinations with body movements
informed by somatic impulse. Using sound and movement to conjure images of anxiety and discomfort, their work engages with themes related to trauma, resilience, violence, and revenge. PussyVision has collaborated with artists working in diverse mediums, creating sounds for installations, dance pieces, film scores and drag performances. They have played internationally including performing as the keynote artist at Trans and Noise in The Hague, Netherlands, and performing pieces for Borderland Noise in Tijuana, Mexico.
Joe Levasseur (lighting design) has collaborated with many dance and performance artists, including Meredith Monk, Pavel Zuštiak, Jennifer Monson, John Jasperse, Sarah Michelson, Neil Greenberg, Beth Gill, Tamar Rogoff, and
Brian Brooks. His lighting design work has been seen throughout the United States, Europe, and South America. He has received two Bessie Awards (including one for Big Dance Theater’s Comme Toujours Here I Stand) and a Knight of Illumination Award for his work on Meredith Monk’s Cellular Songs. www.joelevasseur.com
Leah Morrison is a Brooklyn-based dance artist, teacher, birth doula and biodynamic craniosacral therapist. Leah performed with the Trisha Brown Company from 2005 to 2013 and continues to participate in TBDC projects. She
was awarded a Bessie Award for her performance of Brown’s solo, If Couldn’t See Me. Leah has had the pleasure of dancing with Elena Demyanenko, Dai Jian, and Kota Yamazaki. Leah’s dancing and bodywork are influenced by Body-Mind Centering, the Alexander Technique, and mindfulness meditation.
Elena Demyanenko: welter 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, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and through Roulette’s GENERATE program, providing over 30 artists each year with in-depth creative and technical support.