Upstart Festival 2016

Curated by Marya Warshaw & Jillian Peña

Friday, February 19, 2016 @ 8pm

Featuring work by

Sameena Mitta/MeenMoves
Alicia Raquel
Johnnie Cruise Mercer/ The REDProject
Sara Gurevich

Saturday, February 20, 2016 @ 8pm

Featuring work by

Tanya Marquardt
Mor Mendel
Alexandra Pinel
Ryan Streit
Marissa Brown/Lone King


Tickets: $16 General | $10 Low-Income [Buy]

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 dance/video artist and Former BAX Artist In Residence Jillian Peña and Founding and Executive Director, Marya Warshaw, these selected works will be produced as part of a two-day showcase in the BAX theater.

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Artist Bios

Marissa Brown is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and BFA in Dance Choreography. Her work has been shown at Claire Trevor Theatre and the Contemporary Arts Center xMPL Theatre in Irvine, CA. In San Francisco, Brown has shown work at the Garage, the Marine Memorial Theatre and as part of the Levy Dance Salon. She recently made her New York premiere as part of the CURRENT SESSIONS and at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, NY. She works in the contemporary field of dance performance and creation, exploring movement as a physical language with reoccurring themes of desire and loneliness. Creating work driven by honesty to find human connection. As a performer she has had the pleasure to work with Donald Mckayle, Benjamin Levy, Brice Mousset, Randy James, Sharp&Fine, and The People Movers.

Sara Gurevich, native New Yorker, is a performance artist whose work has recently been presented at BAX Upstart Festival, Dixon Place, Movement Research’s Open Performance, Green Space, and WAXworks. She is the recipient of a 2016 New York Mills Artist Residency in Minnesota. Gurevich’s work has been also been presented at Fleet Moves Dance Festivals (MA) and FAB! Festival (NYC). She has performed in works by Itzik Galili, Abigail Levine, Troy Ogilvie, Samar Haddad King, and Alex Ketley, among others. She currently performs with Raja Feather Kelly’s the feath3r theory, Mark DeChiazza, and Anne Zuerner. Gurevich holds a BFA with honors from the Ailey School/Fordham University. For more on Sara:

Tanya Marquardt is a Canadian writer and performer living in Brooklyn, New York. Selected performing credits include: The Show Must Go On (Jerome Bell / PuSh Festival), a site specific show in IKEA called The Swedish Plays (radix theatre), this cage is a rickety bridge with collaborator Jesse Zubot (the Longest Night Festival), Antigone Undone (Leaky Heaven Circus), Canadians Are Mean (Melanie Jones/BAX) and Stray (Brooklyn Arts Exchange). Her work has been presented at Dixon Place, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, the PuSh Performing Arts Festival, the Vancouver International Dance Festival, Dancing on the Edge, VIVO Media Arts, and NeXtFest. She got her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Currently she is creating a new immersive theatre piece with Wildrice in a basement space on Canal Street in NYC, and is in the studio with Bluemouth Inc. working on a show about the Chomsky/Foucault debate On Human Nature.

Mor Mendel is a Brooklyn based dancer, choreographer, performance artist and educator. She received her MFA in dance from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014. Mor earned her BFA, including a teaching certification in Dance Theater in Israel where she performed and taught in various venues and schools. Mendel is currently developing her teaching method that focuses on organic movement, improvisation and composition. Her work was performed at Gowanus Arts center, as part of a collaborative work in Triskelion Art center, at the 14Y and Brooklyn studios for dance. She is the choreographer of a theater production with Jesse Freedman. Mendel is currently dancing with Patricia Hoffbauer, Hadar Ahuvia and Tamar Ettun and the Moving Company as well as working on a new piece to be presented in Judson Church.

These days she is perusing, searching, following and establishing her calling in movement and dance in the big entity of NYC.

Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a native of Richmond, Virginia and a BFA graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Dance and Choreography. As a freelance artist, Mr. Mercer has professionally collaborated with Antonio Brown, Edisa Weeks, Monstah Black (Reggie Crump), Whitney Hunter (Yon Tande), and Andre Zachery. He has performed as a company member of The Von Howard Project, lead by Christian Von Howard, and Dance Theater X lead by Charles O. Anderson. As a choreographer Mr. Mercer's work has been performed/seen at Center for Performance Research (NY), The Richmond Dance Festival (VA), The Charlotte Dance Festival (NC), The Dance Place (DC), Movement Research Open Performance Series (NY) and on numerous schools and companies. Mr. Mercer is the artistic director of the emerging dance company, Johnnie Cruise Mercer/TheREDproject based in Brooklyn NY. To follow the company/Mr. Mercer: Facebook, Instrgram: jcruisem_theredproj

Sameena Mitta graduated from the professional ballet programme of The School of Dance in Ottawa where she received the Celia Franca Scholarship. She has spent over 15 years teaching and working as a freelance modern dancer performing for numerous choreographers and schools in North America and abroad. She successfully completed the Master’s program in Dance Creation at UQAM and was awarded the Associate Diploma of the Cecchetti Society. Mitta enjoyed a year in Japan teaching and creating her first independent dance film. She has been choreographing for several years with her company, MeenMoves, and has presented her work in North America, India, Japan and Europe. She is the Artistic Director of MadHops, a dance program for underrepresented groups and individuals. Sameena is currently on faculty at the Limón Institute and the Harkness Dance Center.

Alexandra Pinel is a choreographer from Paris, France and has showcased work in DC at the Capitol Hill Arts Blackbox, in New York Gibney Dance, Triskelion Arts, Dixon Place, Green Space, the Living Gallery, Spectrum NY, The Secret Theater in LIC, Brooklyn Arts Exchange and at the University of Santiago, Chile. Her dance films have been shown on NPR Radio’s Blog for the anniversary of the Rite of Spring, at Dance Film Association Screenings and at the House of Scandinavia. She has choreographed music videos for Chinese band Re-TROS and Prince Rama and is a Luther Rice Research Fellow and Maida Withers Dance Construction Company Award Recipient for Innovation in Dance. Alexandra works for Half Straddle, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, New York Public Radio and choreographer luciana achugar and has recently performed in her work at JACK, The Chocolate Factory, Fusebox Festival and New York Live Arts.

Alicia Raquel is a performance maker from Oakland, CA, living in Brooklyn, NY. She is obsessed with the stories and power the body holds, and the (r)evolutionary potential of bringing consciousness to the shapes we live.

Ryan Streit is a Brooklyn based queer artist. Through a cabaret narrative of a world that glitters even in it’s darkest moments, he explores the politics of sexuality, gender, celebrity, pop culture and the confines of art through an absurd, queer lens. His original work has been showcased through queer nightlife at parties such as Hot Fruit, Bathsalts, Total Rejects Live, Bushwig and various Culture Whore events. Additionally, he has performed as part of The American Realness Festival at The Public Theater, The Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, The Wild Project and various regional theaters.


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