(y)ourstory

(y)ourstory, a dance-theater piece with empathy at its center, was conceived as a response to, and in support of, the spontaneous outpouring of community activism in Union Square, New York City, after Election Day 2016.

As the community rallied and wrote words of encouragement, mourning, alarm, and love on post-it notes in the subway station, each note a microcosm of that person’s story, so too does the (y)ourstory audience as they enter the theater. Their stories are combined with the performer's stories creating your and our story, hence (y)ourstory. This piece provides an opportunity to explore our differences and the experiences that transcend such divisions. The artists' ability to connect to their own story, one another and the audience in the midst of an interactive performance make this work authentic, honest, and exciting for all involved.

Community engagement is integral to the performance and development of the piece (which has not yet premiered). After our work-in-progress performances at Harlem Stage, the audience responded by saying they were "moved and inspired," and felt a connection to each other’s differences and “human-ness”, all sentiments we need in these challenging political times.  

(y)ourstory features dialogues with artists of varying ethnicities and histories. Participants span generations and experiences, and their collaborative contributions offer insight into the difficulties of discussing race, gender, and empathy. While the performers tell their own stories in word and movement, this performative installation-based approach blurs the line between performer and viewer, providing an ideal setting for revolutionizing the way we understand and experience connection. The development of (y)ourstory thrives on a spirit of empathy and understanding as we work through difficult and even divisive topics, sharing our experiences with our audience, and they with us.

Run time: in development
Music: Alex Ortega, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Alva Noto
Costumes: Elias Gurrola
Photo credit: Nina Wurtzel
 

  “Mystory: An Unapologetic Body”     My Story: An Unapologetic Body  is a evening-length dance-theater work currently being developed by Francesca Harper in response to recent global events regarding diversity, inclusion, and empathy (or the lack thereof). After creating,  The Look of Feeling , Harper’s acclaimed show about her mother, she realized that her own story needed to be told, but in its own way and on its own terms. The story of the (still unfolding) life of an African-American woman living in the predominantly white worlds of ballet, modern dance, and Broadway, while facing challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs as she attempts to shatter the stereotypically classical mold and celebrate her evolution into an unapologetic body.  Growing up in the Ailey school, being counseled by Alvin Ailey himself, influenced by her mother Denise Jefferson, being a Principal Dancer in William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt, performing on Broadway, forming her own dance company, receiving choreographic commissions and performing around the world; all these influences come together in the creation of Francesca Harper’s  My Story: An Unapologetic Body .  Ultimately,  My Story  will develop into a full-length immersive work with from 1- 4 performers utilizing dance, music, and narrative.  Run time: evening-length, exact timing tba, work in development Original Music by: Daniel Bernard-Roumain Photo credit: Nina Wurtzel

“Mystory: An Unapologetic Body”

My Story: An Unapologetic Body is a evening-length dance-theater work currently being developed by Francesca Harper in response to recent global events regarding diversity, inclusion, and empathy (or the lack thereof). After creating, The Look of Feeling, Harper’s acclaimed show about her mother, she realized that her own story needed to be told, but in its own way and on its own terms. The story of the (still unfolding) life of an African-American woman living in the predominantly white worlds of ballet, modern dance, and Broadway, while facing challenges, heartbreaks, and triumphs as she attempts to shatter the stereotypically classical mold and celebrate her evolution into an unapologetic body.

Growing up in the Ailey school, being counseled by Alvin Ailey himself, influenced by her mother Denise Jefferson, being a Principal Dancer in William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt, performing on Broadway, forming her own dance company, receiving choreographic commissions and performing around the world; all these influences come together in the creation of Francesca Harper’s My Story: An Unapologetic Body.

Ultimately, My Story will develop into a full-length immersive work with from 1- 4 performers utilizing dance, music, and narrative.

Run time: evening-length, exact timing tba, work in development
Original Music by: Daniel Bernard-Roumain
Photo credit: Nina Wurtzel

  The Look of Feeling   In  The Look of Feeling  Francesca Harper examines the life of her mother Denise Jefferson, who fearlessly directed The Alvin Ailey School for over 25 years. Jefferson nurtured the institution and its artists to international acclaim. From Monticello to Manhattan, Harper recreates her mother's miraculous journey through choreography, song, and visual projection. While asking crucial questions about Jefferson’s final illness, women’s health, and empowerment, T he Look of Feeling  celebrates Jefferson, a pioneer of American dance who courageously fulfilled her dreams, and illuminates Harper, a bold choreographer in discovery of her own legacy.  Run time: 90 Minutes, Solo Work Music: Piano, Violin, Cello or recorded music. In a university setting, may use student instrumentalists. Photo: Milan Goldbach

The Look of Feeling

In The Look of Feeling Francesca Harper examines the life of her mother Denise Jefferson, who fearlessly directed The Alvin Ailey School for over 25 years. Jefferson nurtured the institution and its artists to international acclaim. From Monticello to Manhattan, Harper recreates her mother's miraculous journey through choreography, song, and visual projection. While asking crucial questions about Jefferson’s final illness, women’s health, and empowerment, The Look of Feeling celebrates Jefferson, a pioneer of American dance who courageously fulfilled her dreams, and illuminates Harper, a bold choreographer in discovery of her own legacy.

Run time: 90 Minutes, Solo Work
Music: Piano, Violin, Cello or recorded music. In a university setting, may use student instrumentalists.
Photo: Milan Goldbach

  Improvisations on a Pose   An evening of solo works featuring FHP Rehearsal Director Eriko Iisaku.  Three sculptures by National Arts Club awardee Marc Mellon come to life through balletic interpretation, in Improvisations on a Pose. Created in 2013 and premiered with the Attacca Quartet, Francesca Harper illustrates the latent energy and inspiration of Mellon’s bronze figures thru classical and modern ballet. Performed to concerti by Beethoven, Haydn and Ravel, soloists dance amidst the musicians and sculpture, exploring physical and spatial boundaries. Improvisations on a Pose is a breath-taking infusion of ballet and visual art that challenges the way we experience form and imagination. Choreography: Francesca Harper Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Joseph-Maurice Ravel. In a university setting, may use student instrumentalists. Original Sculptures by: Marc Mellon Run time: 30 minutes, 3 dancers Photo: Francesca Harper

Improvisations on a Pose

An evening of solo works featuring FHP Rehearsal Director Eriko Iisaku.

Three sculptures by National Arts Club awardee Marc Mellon come to life through balletic interpretation, in Improvisations on a Pose. Created in 2013 and premiered with the Attacca Quartet, Francesca Harper illustrates the latent energy and inspiration of Mellon’s bronze figures thru classical and modern ballet. Performed to concerti by Beethoven, Haydn and Ravel, soloists dance amidst the musicians and sculpture, exploring physical and spatial boundaries. Improvisations on a Pose is a breath-taking infusion of ballet and visual art that challenges the way we experience form and imagination.
Choreography: Francesca Harper
Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Joseph-Maurice Ravel. In a university setting, may use student instrumentalists.
Original Sculptures by: Marc Mellon
Run time: 30 minutes, 3 dancers
Photo: Francesca Harper

  Creatures of Prometheus   Pairing the scope of Beethoven’s original score (1801), with Francesca Harper’s interpretation of the classical ballet creation myth, Creatures finds Harper’s dancers evoking an eternal struggle: finding balance in a life lived at the edge of peril. Ballet is used here to illustrate forces natural and primordial, elegant and dramatic. This work may be engaged to be performed with Professional Orchestras as well as at Universities with student musicians and dancers. An engagement may include workshops, and may include training student dancers for the performance(s). Run time: 60 Minutes, 11* Dancers * 6 FHP dancers, 5 (or more) may be from student organizations participating in workshops. Music: Beethoven Costumes: Elias Gurrola Photo Fred Stucker

Creatures of Prometheus

Pairing the scope of Beethoven’s original score (1801), with Francesca Harper’s interpretation of the classical ballet creation myth, Creatures finds Harper’s dancers evoking an eternal struggle: finding balance in a life lived at the edge of peril. Ballet is used here to illustrate forces natural and primordial, elegant and dramatic.
This work may be engaged to be performed with Professional Orchestras as well as at Universities with student musicians and dancers. An engagement may include workshops, and may include training student dancers for the performance(s).
Run time: 60 Minutes, 11* Dancers
* 6 FHP dancers, 5 (or more) may be from student organizations participating in workshops.
Music: Beethoven
Costumes: Elias Gurrola
Photo Fred Stucker