Upstart Festival 2017

Curated by Jillian Peña and Fernando Maneca

Friday, February 10, 2017 @ 8pm

Featuring work by

The Brown Dance Project
Chris DeVita
Elena Rose Light
Brianna Taylor
Ashley R.T. Yergens

Saturday, February 11, 2017 @ 8pm

Featuring work by

Anastasia Eckerson
Felicia Henry/Behind the Walls, Between the Lines
Church of the Millennials
Nia and Ness
Bianca Roman

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 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.

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, various artistic processes/practices, and coffee dates. She is interested in the application of queer intersectional feminism to choreography, viewing performance-making as an empathetic mode to create discourse around past and present social conditions.

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 Việt Tide as well as several other news outlets.

The Brown Dance Project (The BDP) 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.

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. Brianna 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 (The Collective for Happy Sounds), based in Greensboro, NC. In 2008 Brianna co-founded SoShe’s Performance Collective in San Francisco, CA, where she continues to create work and perform. In Boulder she was a company member of The Skeleton Dance Project with Onye Ozuzu, as well as Logo Ligi West African Dance Ensemble with the Mensah Brothers, and she co-directed the performance collective Separation Anxiety. She has collaborated and performed with a variety of artists around the United States, and in Ghana, West Africa.

Ashley R.T. Yergens made their debut with Is this more ladylike? at the Walker Art Center’s 2014 Choreographers’ Evening. Ashley is a byproduct of growing up on tater tots and WWE SmackDown, being queer in small town USA, and bonding with blue collars. Their choreography has been presented at venues such as the Wild Project Theater, Dixon Place, Center for Performance Research, Annoyance Theatre, and the WOW Café Theatre. Recently, they received a 2016 boo-koo Space Grant from Gibney Dance, and they are a 2016-17 Fresh Tracks Artist at New York Live Arts. Additionally, you can catch them Yackez-ing with Larissa and Jon Velez-Jackson.


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