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The Church and Guild Hall Form Partnership for Process

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:25
Les Ballet Afrik at Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Robert Altman

The Church in Sag Harbor and East Hampton's Guild Hall have announced a partnership to bring internationally known artists to the area for residencies and shows through the holiday season and into the new year.

Making these programs possible is the third partner in this triad, Works & Process at the Guggenheim. The program, which began in 1984, "nurtures and champions new works, shapes representation, amplifies underrepresented voices and performing arts cultures, and offers audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers," according to the Guggenheim Museum, which offers these programs in their main branch in Manhattan.

The program being developed for the South Fork is called LaunchPAD Process as Destination. Its goal is to increase awareness and develop audiences here for creative works as they develop.

In 2022, Works & Process at the Guggenheim will have two projects with LaunchPAD residencies: "Third Bird," a musical piece conceived by Isaac Mizrahi, and "New York Is Burning," from Les Ballet Afrik and Omari Wiles. Each residency will take place at The Church, where they will rehearse and offer open rehearsals, community events, discussions, and other presentations. In addition to these public programs, organized with Guild Hall, there are events planned for younger artists from the community to interact with these groups.

Mr. Mizrahi wrote the libretto for "Third Bird," with music composed by Nico Muhly and choreography by John Heginbotham. Mr. Mizrahi has worked with the Guggenheim program previously, as the director and narrator for more than 100 performances of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." During the pandemic, he came up with the idea of an homage to the original work, and Works & Process commissioned it.

"Third Bird" has a cast of eight who relate the story of a flying bluebird, a swimming duck, and a running ostrich, each demonstrating a unique ability. It was developed in a "bubble residency" at the Catskill Mountain Foundation in the spring of 2021. Its residency at The Church will begin on Monday, with a public "show and tell" planned for Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m. Its program for high school students will happen next Thursday afternoon. The musical piece will premiere at the Guggenheim in June.

"New York Is Burning" was conceived as a celebration of the New York drag ballroom scene on the 30th anniversary of the release of "Paris Is Burning," a documentary that followed the scene in the 1980s. Delayed by the pandemic, the project, commissioned by the Guggenheim, received a summer 2020 Works & Process bubble residency at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in Tivoli, N.Y., and a spring 2021 bubble residency at the Catskill Mountain Foundation, where Mr. Wiles developed it for Les Ballet Afrik, his dance company. 

Like its predecessor, "New York Is Burning" celebrates voguing "as a powerful expression of personal pride in the face of racism, homophobia, and the stigma of the AIDS crisis" of the time, according to the Guggenheim. Mr. Wiles is considered "a legend within the ballroom community," which gave rise to voguing.

The "New York Is Burning" residency will begin on Jan. 3. The production will hold an open rehearsal on Jan. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A "vogue" dance class will be offered to students on Jan. 12, with a show-and-tell for the public on Jan. 13, the last day of the residency.

Both groups' fully funded residencies at The Church will include fees, rehearsal space, living accommodations, transportation, and health care insurance coverage. The show-and-tell events each require $10 tickets, which are available on The Church's website. The "New York Is Burning" open rehearsal is free, and viewers can come and go as they like.

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