Upstart Festival 2017 e-program

Curated by Jillian Peña and Fernando Maneca

Friday, February 10, 2017 @ 8pm

Choreographed and Performed by Elena Rose Light

Special Thanks to Miriam Gabriel for supporting the first iteration of this work. To Miguel Gutierrez and the participants of the LANDING mentorship for creative the discursive conditions for these ideas to percolate.
Funding Credits: This work was originally supported by the Center for Performance Research.


People = Bones. Bones = Eggs
Choreographed by The Brown Dance Project

Special Thanks to Dillard University/Harvard University Hutchins Center Black Arts Movement International Conference, University of Michigan Department of Dance, University of Michigan Department of Dance Black Alumni Network.


Choreographed, written, and performed by  Brianna Taylor

Special thanks to Melanie Greene for the ongoing conversations and support, and to Cynthia Ling Lee for helping me lay the foundations of this piece.
Brianna welcomes conversations about the piece. Please email her a


Single, Double
Choreographed and Performed by georgia*jonathan
Fragmented Pieces
Choreography  by Chris DeVita
Written by Chris DeVita with quotes by David Wojnarowicz    

Special Thanks to REBECCA AND PALMER!!!! Thank you!


Choreographed by Ashley R.T. Yergens as Carlo Antonio Villanueva as Ashley R.T. Yergens as Carlo Antonio Villanueva
Performed by  Carlo Antonio Villanueva as Ashley R.T. Yergens as Carlo Antonio Villanueva as Ashley R.T. Yergens

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 8pm

By Church of the Millennials
Sound Design by  Keenan Hurley

Church would like to thank the creative and production teams for the Upstart Festival, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Miriam Felton-Dansky, Gideon Lester, Geoff Sobelle and Jecca Barry, Jonathan Rosenberg, PorterSpace, Lawrence Schober, Charlie Hawks, Keenan Hurley, Leah Rabinowitz and Morgan Oppenheimer, Jack Fellows and The Brooklyn Actors Troupe, A 2011 Jeep Liberty, and Our Mothers and Fathers.


Jiffy & Beanz
Performed by Manny

Special Thanks to A Beautiful Desperation for their unconditional support and for carrying this piece for as long as you did. And of course to you J, for always leaving room for me in your heart after all this time.


Kylie Jenner Lip Kit
Choreographed and performed by TALL GIRLS DANCING
I Wonder- #AMINEXT
Performed by  Felicia Henry/Behind the Walls, Between the Lines
blind spot
Performed by Nia & Ness

Special thanks to The Creators Collective and Open Source Gallery for giving us the foundation to create this piece. Also, thank you to our friends, family and inspirations who have helped us through the difficulties encountered on our journey thus far. Lastly, to those of you to come who will walk a similar path as ours, thank you for accepting the torch, doing your work and helping to guide a new generation of warrior-lover-artists.


lcl grl
Choreographed and performed by  Anastasia Eckerson
Asst. Sound Design Manny

Special thanks to the Needing It! 2016 class for encouraging and supporting me while creating the original iteration of this piece and an extra special thanks to Dan Fishback for helping me to see the value in my artistic voice.


THE BLAST OFF KID and The Big Moon Pageant
Choreographed and performed by Bianca Roman
Text written by Bianca Roman
Original score composed by Chase Hawley


Tickets: $16 General | $10 Low-Income

The Upstart Festival ushers in fresh talent with an intriguing festival of performances and roundtable discussions. Artists have no more than three years of experience showing their work in New York City. Curated by former BAX Artists In Residence Jillian Peña (2011-13) and Fernando Maneca (2004-06), these selected works will be produced as part of a two-day showcase in the BAX theater.


Artist Bios

TALL GIRLS DANCING is a performance duo founded in 2014 by Sara Gibbons and Doug LeCours. Dedicated to an ongoing process of working together, TALL GIRLS DANCING crafts set and improvised movement-based systems that explore identity politics and the millennial experience. Guided by a commitment to be adamantly contemporary, Gibbons and LeCours work within their youthful perspective to create a space where angst, dark humor, togetherness, and idiocy in performance inspire actual transformation. They have presented their work nationally and internationally at venues including Triskelion Arts, Colby College (ME), the Denmark Arts Center (ME), and ImPulsTanz (Vienna) through the ATLAS program for emerging choreographers.

Doug LeCours is a Brooklyn-based artist working in dance, performance, and video. His work has been presented in NYC by Center for Performance Research, Dixon Place, and Otion Front Studio. He has received residency support from Chez Bushwick and Yeah Maybe Gallery (MN). He has worked as a performer and collaborator for Megan Bascom, Alexandra Beller, Shandoah Goldman, Scotty Hardwig, Paul Matteson, and Ashley Yergens, and as an ensemble member of Heiner Goebbel’s opera De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory, among others. Doug is a 2016-2017 Fresh Tracks artist at New York Live Arts.

Born and raised in Bermuda, Sara Gibbons now lives, performs, and makes work in New York. After completing the Milwaukee Ballet School training program, she graduated from Colby College in May 2015. In the summers, she has studied at the Bates Dance Festival, MICI, and the inaugural ATLAS program for emerging artists at ImPulsTanz in Vienna, Austria. Sara has performed in works by Heidi Henderson, Annie Kloppenberg, Kendra Portier|BANDPortier, and Donnell Oakley, in addition to apprenticing with David Dorfman Dance, with whom she has performed nationally and internationally.

Chris DeVita is a choreographer and multidisciplinary artist from Pittsburgh PA. His work has been seen in New York and Los Angeles at REDCAT, The Public Theater, La Mama ETC, Mt Tremper Arts, The Knockdown Center, BRIC Arts, JACK, CPR, The Judson Church, and BAM. He is a recent resident artist at The Wassaic Project, The Public Theater, Mabou Mines, Mt. Tremper Arts, and Chez Bushwick. He is a co-founder of the interdisciplinary collective I AM A BOYS CHOIR.

DeVita is a frequent collaborator in theatrical projects, most recently O, Earth (Foundry Theatre), and two productions of Salome directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. He continues to make performing the work of other artists a part of his practice. In the past, he has performed the works of Katy Pyle/ BALLEZ(La Mama), Catharine Galasso (Danspace Project), Brendan Fernandes (MoMA, Park Avenue Armory), Tino Sehgal (BAM, Wattis Gallery), and Alonzo King (Yerba Buena).

Rebecca Margolick was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and trained at Arts Umbrella. She graduated with an honors BFA in Dance from NYU’s Tisch and received the J.S. Seidman Award for Excellence in Dance. Primarily based in NYC, Rebecca is in her third year as a company member of Sidra Bell Dance New York. In Vancouver, she is working with Donald Sales’ Project20 and Shay Kuebler and has worked with Barak Marshall. This past summer, she received a Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to attend the 2013 Impulstanz Dance Festival in Vienna. In 2012, she apprenticed with Aszure Barton & Artists at the Banff Center of the Arts. Rebecca has attended the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance in Austria and Batsheva Dance Company Gaga Intensives in Israel.

Palmer Hefferan is a theatrical sound artist working in New York City and regional theater. She was selected by Live Design magazine as their “2014 Young Designer to Watch.” Her feature can be read in the December 2014 issue. Recent credits include Signature Theatre, Rattlestick Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Soho Rep, Williamstown Theater Festival, 59E59, and many more. MFA Yale School of Drama

Anastasia Eckerson is a queer brown femme performer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. They grew up in a multiracial family in a small town in Connecticut. As a young person, Eckerson played sports until the age of 16 when they fell in love with dance and began training in modern dance and classical ballet. They graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in Dance and a minor in Gender Studies. After a back injury coincided with exposure to the practice of performance art, Eckerson’s focus shifted from contemporary dance performance to performance art and movement based performance making. Much of their current work pulls from their childhood memories and experiences moving through the world as a brown queer femme. They were a part of BAX’s NEEDING IT! workshop in 2016 and are currently working with choreographer Stormy Budwig.

Georgia Gavran, a Wisconsin native, and Jonathan Doherty, a Western Massachusetts native, both graduated from The University of the Arts receiving their BFA in Dance Performance under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield. Originally introduced at school, they later found each other in Brooklyn, NY, where the friendship blossomed into collaborators. Georgia, animated and sarcastic, and Jonathan, quirky and mercurial, found themselves generating complex and interwoven movements. Utilizing their abstract pairing, they exist in a whimsical and erratic realm. Georgia and Jonathan have shown work together around the New York area at venues such as Triskelion Arts, JACK, and The Tank.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Felicia A. Henry has always had a commanding presence; whether the stage is at home or abroad, she is graced to compel people to listen to her, and she uses it to speak truth to power for those who can’t. Felicia’s platform is poetry, and her skill is evolving with every stroke of the pen. She thrives behind the mic, and captivates her audience with the intensity of her lyrics while maintaining a mild demeanor. Felicia is a lover of Christ. Social Worker. Visionary. 20-something trying to figure out the meaning of life. A Temple University alumna, Felicia received her Masters of Social Work degree from the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. Felicia currently resides back in her hometown and works as a Restorative Justice Social Worker with justice-involved youth in Brownsville, BK.

Elena Rose Light is a dance artist indebted in ways large and small to Dolores Velia Rains, Irène Giguere, Kirsten Oakley, Corinne McKean, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Iréne Holtman-Monti, Maria F. Scaroni, Ursula Eagly, Lucy Sexton, and Angela Rose Light. She read canonical texts in Yale’s art history department and has since been schooling herself through the danceWEB 2016 scholarship program, the 2016-17 LANDING program with Miguel Gutierrez, and various artistic practices. She is interested in the application of queer intersectional feminism to expanded choreographies.

Manny is a nonbinary trans faerie who aspires to create art under the guise of their inner teenager. The Brooklyn-based theatre artist and sound designer is a recent alum of The City College of New York and member of the all queer performance art collective; A Beautiful Desperation. .Their work is largely autobiographical and enjoys playing in the playgrounds of their personal history. Credits include; Almost Maine (Sound Design, Aaron Davis Hall), SUBMERGE: will you? (Stage Manager, BAX), The Taming of Cats (Sound Design, The Brick), H.O.M.E. (Playwright, The New Ohio Theatre), Blu (Asst.Director/Sound Design, Aaron Davis Hall).

Church of the Millennials is a Brooklyn-based theatre company comprised of seven theatrical workers dedicated to the cultivation and conservation of artistic service. Church creates original work that incorporates plays, dances, lectures, videos, puppet-shows, happenings, and memes. As a company, they have presented original work at the Wild Project, Porterspace, and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Church has performed at Residency 108 and its members are currently Creative Production Associates on Geoff Sobelle’s upcoming piece “HOME” at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Founded at Bard College, Church is operated by Abby Adler, Antonio Irizarry, Kedian Keohan, Reeves Morris-Stan, Ethan Rogers, Daisy Rosato, and Dana Savage.

Nia Shand and Ness White are a dancer/poet performance art duo based in the NYC Metropolitan area. They met in Philadelphia three years ago while attending Temple University and immediately began a collaborative art process, as well an intimate relationship. Along with the couple’s work together, Nia is a proud BFA dance graduate from Temple. Immediately after graduation she began dancing in Germany and France with DAGADA dance company as part of her developing dance career; and Ness, a Journalism graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, freelances as a writer and editor for the Vi?t Tide as well as several other news outlets.

The couple’s work is informed by the complexities of their relationship, and aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities.

The Brown Dance Project is dedicated to making connections with art, performance and advocacy. A creative research lab largely focused on sharing public health information with dance composition, the lab celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2016. Comprising a fluid roster of professional dancer artists and other performers, The BDP has the unique ability to operate as many or 1, traveling as its Artistic Director creates work.

RODNEY A. BROWN is founder/director of The Brown Dance Project (The BDP). His most recent scholarship is a series of modern dance choreographies that teach an oral HIV prevention method. His most recent publication is entitled, “Module Manual: A Guide to Choreographing the POA HIV Prevention Education Method”.

GARY DIXON is a writer of poetry and performer of spoken word, he has been published in the anthology “Letters to My Bully”. In addition, his poetry has been featured in “The Colored Section”, a performance piece produced by Gamal Brown which speaks to the atrocities of lynching. Active in the community; Gary is one of the founding members of The Restoration Church, an LGBTQ faith-based organization in Columbus, Ohio.

Bianca Roman is a queer, interdisciplinary performance artist and late-night diner enthusiast approaching her thirties. Her work questions the magical and destructive nature of expectation, identity, communication, attachment, escapism, childhood trauma and the RE-parenting of the self. Bianca received her MFA in Dance at Sarah Lawrence College and her BA in Theatre from Bucknell University. She is also a Licensed Massage Therapist, mixed-media visual artist, and the Founder and Creative Director of the lamp post . chapter one, a DIY performance venue and gallery space in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Brianna Taylor is a multidisciplinary movement artist, choreographer, performer, teacher, and investigator. Her work explores intersections between movement, language, sound and objects. She holds an MFA in Choreography from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a B.A. in Dance from the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Taylor is the founder and artistic director of Confluence Performance Project, a multi-disciplinary performance group recently relocated to Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been showcased in the San Francisco Bay area, Greensboro and Wilmington, NC; Boulder, CO; Portland, OR; Washington, DC; Paris, France; and Lausanne, Switzerland. She is a member of the multi-media performance ensemble ‘Collapss’, and has performed with Onye Ozuzu’s ‘Skeleton Dance Project,’ The Mensah brothers’ West African dance ensemble ‘Logo Ligi,’ among others. Taylor taught as an adjunct at various universities in North Carolina, and currently teaches yoga and dance to students of all ages around NYC.

Ashley R.T. Yergens  is a byproduct of growing up on tater tots and WWE SmackDown. Recently, they were a 2016 boo-koo artist-in-residence at Gibney Dance. Additionally, you can catch them Yackez-ing with Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson. Yes, they’re trans. Please text your favorite emoji combination to them at (507)412-1381.

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