YBCA and Youth Speaks' Living Word Project present
Left Coast Leaning
Thu–Sat, December 1–3, 2011 • 8 pm • YBCA Forum
YBCA members: FREE tickets for Friday performance, see details »
YBCA and Youth Speaks' Living Word Project are proud to present the third edition of Left Coast Leaning. Artists chosen to participate in Left Coast Leaning reflect the unique pulse of the West Coast arts scene and the festival format enables audiences and artists to engage in a shared dialogue that crosses performance disciplines. By celebrating the diversity of cultures that lie at the heart of West Coast society, Left Coast Leaning presents an alternative to the negative image of hip hop arts that is projected by contemporary media and challenges artists and audiences to viscerally engage with each other. Our hope is to shift marginalized art forms such as spoken word, media arts, performance installation, puppetry, deejaying and contemporary folklore from the periphery to the center of contemporary performance. Left Coast Leaning integrates disparate ideas both outside and within the city of San Francisco to establish the Bay Area as a place for artists, scholars, and arts lovers to encounter this dynamic and flourishing New Majority American art form.
This year’s diverse lineup includes L.A.-based video and performance artist Alexandro Segade; Bay Area recording artist and slam poet champion Rafael Casal; choreographer and award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith; L.A.-based performance company Anna Martine Whitehead Group; and Portland dance troupe tEEth.
Alexandro Segade’s new piece Replicant VS Separatist takes place in a dreamlike, sci-fi L.A. cityscape where gay marriage is state-mandated and those who don’t conform are hunted down. Combining video, animation and electronic music with a bitingly intelligent script, this multimedia performance evokes a mood of melancholy tension, comic-book action and apocalyptic love.
Bay Area recording artist and slam poet champion Rafael Casal is a force to be reckoned with. He is a National Poetry Slam champion, appeared on three seasons of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO and has performed at hundreds of universities and venues across the country. Rafael Casal's The Limp is a contemporary examination of the relationship between love and male identity, told by three components of the psyche in conversation with each other and themselves. Set in a twenty-something's living room minutes before a date arrives, a conversation between four roommates snowballs into a hilarious, philosophical and violent portrayal of how men of the millennial generation experience the big L-word and all that surrounds it.
Jason Samuels Smith is a leader in the art form of tap. The recipient of numerous awards, including an Emmy, he has appeared on television, in films and on Broadway. His improvisational piece Sole Love expresses the unique journey that Samuels Smith has taken in both his interactions with legendary masters of the art as well as his own extensive global experiences.
Anna Martine Whitehead uses video, sound, and movement to address themes of displacement, memory, melancholia, and desire. A large portion of this piece is based on the dance form known as "cakewalk," which originated with black slaves in the American South but by the end of the 20th century was well known through minstrelsy and had become primarily a white social dance. Relying heavily on audience voyeurism and performance art practices of improvisational collaboration, the piece charts the experience of the sexualized black body in the realm of the spectacle.
Choreographer Angelle Hebert and composer Phillip Kraft founded Portland-based dance company tEEth in 2006. Their work is generated through deeply collaborative processes, blending original music and movement through melodic and conceptual mirroring. Home Made mounts a daring exploration of the awkwardness of human beauty and the struggles of intimate negotiation.
Over the past several years, I have been having an ongoing conversation with Marc Bamuthi Joseph (Artistic Director of Youth Speaks & The Living Word Project) and James Kass (Youth Speaks) about the distinctiveness of what we have gradually come to call a “West Coast aesthetics.” As we have surveyed the landscape of performing arts in America, we have recognized that artists whose roots, practice and commitment are centered on the west coast, generally have a distinctive point of view towards the work they create. This point of view is young, urban, mostly black and brown, immigrant-derived, hip hop inflected, often imbued with a strong sense of social justice. It hasn’t emerged from modern masters whose names and practices have defined the “master narrative” of American performance aesthetics. Rather, these artists tend to come from the street, emerging from a different, and sometimes longer, tradition of culturally specific, improvised, virtuosic points of view, adapting to and shaping the contemporary world within which they exist and create their work.
Excited by what we saw, and by what we believe is the future of U.S. dance and performance, we also became frustrated at the West Coast aesthetic’s marginalization in the larger national conversation about performance in America. From our vantage point in the Bay Area, a center for exactly this type of aesthetic, we saw the need to shift the center away from its largely East Coast focus to the West, where the future of this country most assuredly rests. From this idea emerged Left Coast Leaning. The work being created by the artists that you will see in this program represents an America that we in the West know well. It’s our world. We believe that these are representative of the artists who are defining the contours of a new globalized American society. We have met the future, and it is ours.
The logic of geography (Left Coast) serves as a way to heighten the role of the Bay Area and other West Coast sites as a locus of activity. But it is a springboard, not a container. We are looking globally for artists whose work amplifies what we think is the future of contemporary performance. And we are sharing that with you.
Left Coast Leaning is an experiment. It is a new way of thinking, performing and presenting the art of our time to audiences of our time in a space and format that feels right for us. This is our third iteration, and it’s a lot different than the first two. We expect the next version and the next and the next to all vary in some degree from the previous ones. What binds them all together however, is the assertion, finally, of a distinctive, new point of view about performance in the U.S. and the world, one that is leaning toward the Left Coast.
Kenneth J. Foster
Alexandro Segade is a video and performance artist based in Los Angeles. His recent solo projects have been presented at LAXART, REDCAT, Machine Gallery (Los Angeles), and Vox Populi (Philadelphia). Segade is a founding member of the collective My Barbarian, whose fantastical, political performances and videos have been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, MOCA, LACMA (Los Angeles), The Kitchen, New Museum, Whitney Museum, P.S.1, Joe’s Pub, Studio Museum in Harlem, Participants Inc (New York), SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for Arts (San Francisco), MOCA (Miami), Museo Experimental El Eco (Mexico City), The Power Plant (Toronto), De Appel (Amsterdam), El Matadero, ARCO (Madrid), Galleria Civica di Arte Contempraneo (Trento, Italy), Center for Contemporary Art (Tel Aviv), and Rawabet Theater/Townhouse Gallery (Cairo), for which the group received an Art Matters grant in 2008. My Barbarian was included in the 2005 and 2007 Performa Biennials, the 2006 and 2008 California Biennials, the 2007 Montreal Biennial, and the 2009 Baltic Triennial. Segade has received grants from the Durfee Foundation (2010), Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (2010) and Art Matters (2008, 2011). Segade received an MFA from UCLA in Interdisciplinary Studio Art in 2009. http://alexandrosegade.wordpress.com/
Rafael Casal With an early start as a champion on the National Poetry Slam scene as a teen, being featured on three seasons of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO and performing at hundreds of universities and venues all over the country, Bay Area recording artist and slam poet champion Rafael Casal declared himself early as a force to be reckoned with. He has released two full-length music projects, which have been licensed by programs like MTV’s The Buried Life and Showtime’s The Real L Word. Casal spent the last three years designing, implementing and managing a four-year spoken word and hip hop theater curriculum as creative director of the First Wave undergraduate program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the first university-level program of its kind in the U.S. There he oversaw the artistic careers of 60 students, directed/co-directed 19 stage productions, curated the university's annual Line Breaks performing arts festival, and in 2010 earned the First Wave program the 2010 Wisconsin Governor's Arts Award alongside the program's artistic director, Professor Chris Walker. Casal is a member of Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s Living Word Project, was recently showcased at SXSW music festival, and has shared the stage with creative heavyweights like Kanye West, Lemon Anderson, Alanis Morissette, and George Clinton. Casal continues to cultivate his audience through mediums like YouTube, where over 1.8 million have witnessed his music, poetry, and comedic shorts. www.getrafael.com
Jason Samuels Smith
Jason Samuels Smith is a performer, choreographer and director, and has emerged as a multi-talented leader in the art form of tap. He received a Dance Magazine Award as well as an Emmy and American Choreography Award for “Outstanding Choreography”; the Gregory Hines Humanitarian Award; Certificate of Appreciation by the City of Los Angeles for creating the First Annual Los Angeles Tap Festival (2003); Proclamation declaring April 23rd “Jason Samuels Day” in the City of Shreveport, LA; the “Ivy of Education” from Brainerd Institute; an Alpert/McDowell Residency Award; Arts International Grant; National Performance Network and Map funding among others.
Choreography and performances include work with the singer Mya on CBS’s Secret Talents of the Stars, appearing as a special guest (both as a soloist and in company appearances) on Fox’s hit series So You Think You Can Dance, and work on Dancing with The Stars, to name a few. Other television and film credits include co-starring in Dean Hargrove’s award-winning short film Tap Heat; Outkast’s feature film Idlewild; and Debbie Allen’s AMC series Cool Women. Performances include Soul Possessed (leading role); Tony Award-winning Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk (principal and lead roles); and Imagine Tap! (leading role). Mr. Samuels Smith continues to tour the world with his own tap company A.C.G.I (Anybody Can Get It), India Jazz Suites with Kathak Master Pandit Chitresh Das, Youth Speaks, JaJa Productions Band, and Chasing The Bird (A Tribute to Charlie Parker).
As a humanitarian, he has supported organizations such as Dancers Responding to Aids, Tied to Greatness, Career Transitions for Dancers and Tap Into A Cure, and has helped to develop Tap Dreams, the worldwide documentary/global exchange opportunity for tap dancers in other countries to attend major tap festivals within the US. He has also designed and developed the Jason Samuels Smith professional tap shoe sold exclusively by BLOCH. Mr. Samuels Smith aims to promote respect for dance and create opportunities as an ambassador for tap around the world www.DivineRhythmProductions.com
Anna Martine Whitehead
Anna Martine Whitehead uses video, puppets, sound, and movement to address queer, deracinated, disremembered histories. In a range of capacities – including burlesque performer, puppeteer, death metal drummer, lone wolf, and cowboy crooner – Anna Martine has shown and performed at numerous galleries, theatres, and backyards in the Bay Area and beyond (including Southern Exposure, Climate Theatre, SOMArts, and CounterPULSE in San Francisco; the Bronx Museum in New York; The High Museum in Atlanta; and galleri bob in Gothenburg, Sweden). Her work with Jesse Hewit/Strong Behavior recently garnered a Goldie Award in performing arts from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and her collaborative work has been noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and LA Weekly. She is a recent graduate of California College of the Arts, with an MFA in social practice.
Choreographer Angelle Hebert and composer Phillip Kraft founded Portland-based dance company tEEth in 2006. Their work is generated through deeply collaborative processes, blending original music and movement through melodic and conceptual mirroring. tEEth approaches the body with a singular eye for life’s beauty and dark absurdity, and combines technical virtuosity with raw impact.
tEEth has toured to On the Boards (Seattle), Joyce SoHo (NYC), Fuse Box Festival (Austin), St. Ferdinand Church and Sidearm (New Orleans), and Rose Wagner Theater (Salt Lake City) and most recently won the Joyce Theater Foundation’s prestigious A.W.A.R.D. Show! at On the Boards. Their new work, currently in creation and co-commissioned by White Bird (Portland) and On the Boards (Seattle), will premiere in Portland in January 2012 and tour nationally to pending locations. www.tEEthperformance.com
The People was started November 2007 by music lovers who felt the East Bay was being overlooked by Bay Area tastemakers. Oakland, with its history as a community of immigrants, transplants, revolutionaries, leftists, artists, and people of color, is an obvious place to create a gathering focused on creative community-building through art and culture.
The People aims to redefine nightlife in the East Bay by cultivating music, art, dance, fashion, cuisine, and community to create a soulful and eclectic experience. You can expect to hear gems from across the musical spectrum – progressive dance-hop to Afrobeat flavored house – the only limit imposed on the music is that it must move the body, mind, soul, or all three. Guest Chefs nourish The People with meaningful cuisines including locally and organically sourced food and foods that reflect the diverse cultural heritages of the community. Artisan vendors display and sell work including painting, jewelery, and clothing. www.thepeopleoakland.com
YBCA’s programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
YBCA Performance 11–12 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 11–12:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
Cultural Services of the French Embassy
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts