According to Mathew Pokoik, photographer, artistic director and co-founder with choreographer Aynsley Vandenbroucke of Mount Tremper Arts (MTA), “One essential aspect of our mission is to create a space that questions the confines of conventional market forces, where artists can come together to form a community that values dialogue, risk-taking, experimentation and mutual support.” The results of the duo’s pursuit of that boundary-stretching incubator environment through the first five years of the Mount Tremper Arts Summer Festival have attracted, from far and near, a younger and edgier audience than most longer-established Hudson Valley summer performance and exhibition series.
The Festival’s sixth season gets underway this weekend, with two works by choreographer Abigail Levine beginning at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 15. Performed in darkness, lit only by moving LED candles, Distance Measures (2012) borrows elements from mathematical models of chaotic systems. This beautiful, highly structured dance improvisation evolved collaboratively alongside Derek Bermel’s Orbit Design, a musical algorithm inspired by the three-body problem in celestial mechanics.
As Sugar Loaves Train Horses, a work-in-progress, transposes sections of John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing onto bodies in space. The dance houses “movement sentences” in which dancers literally mark their movements on the walls and floor. The space, in turn, comes to reflect the particulars of the dancers’ bodies, as well as an accumulation of the performance itself.
The Festival continues on June 21 and 22, when the award-winning International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) performs the world premiere of Mesh, about vulnerability, connection and fundamental aspects of shared experience. The season’s first Art-B-Q event on June 29, Pork and Poetry! features spoken-word performances by Craig Dworkin and Mónica de la Torre.
On July 6, dancer Michelle Boulé and cellist Okkyung Lee push sonic and choreographic boundaries to the edge in BREAK>Urge>Imprint, an atmospheric work rooted in improvisation. July 12 and 13 see the world premiere of Poe, composed by Marcos Balter and performed by Claire Chase and Svet Stoyanov. Paul Lazar performs When a Priest Marries a Witch: An Artist Talk by Suzanne Bocanegra on July 20. On July 27, Karinne Keithley Syers will perform her work-in-progress Another Tree Dance.
On August 3, artist-in-residence Souleymane Badolo, from Burkina Faso, will trace the journey of his great-great-grandfather in his dance Buudou, BADOO, BADOLO. Composer/performer collective Varispeed will attempt to perform composer Art Jarvinen’s “unperformable” Adult Party Games from the Leisure Planet, a collection of wild performance pieces, text scores and musical activities, on August 10.
Possibly the highlight of the MTA 2013 Summer Festival will be Perfect Lives, a daylong site-specific opera by composer Robert Ashley, adapted by Varispeed, which will be staged at sites throughout Woodstock, Boiceville, Mount Tremper and Phoenicia on August 17. Admission to this innovative event is free. The third Art-B-Q event, on August 24, is titled CATCH Takes the Catskills.
Come experience what Mathew Pokoik means by “an antidote to spectacle.” Admission to most MTA Summer Festival events costs $20. Season tickets, priced at $95, provide access to all events including the Art-B-Qs. For more information or to order tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or (845) 688-9893 or visit https://mounttremperarts.org.
Abigail Levine’s Distance Measures & As Sugar Loaves Train Horses, Saturday, June 15, 8 p.m., $20, Mount Tremper Arts Summer Festival, 647 South Plank Rd, Mount Tremper; (866) 811-4111, (845) 688-9893, https://mounttremperarts.org.