Mariana Valencia premieres Originators over three performances, January 29-31 at Abrons Art Center. Commissioned as part of ISSUE's Artist-In-Residence Program, Originators is a choreography and lecture shaped from the language of history and dance. This dense activation of content doesn't claim itself to a genre— rather, Originators proposes a new space where blended mediums meet without a hierarchy of value in a time-based work.
Originators is a collection of travel logs and personal anecdotes that reveal an analytic and humorous subtext for Valencia's work in choreography, ethnography and installation. This frame of reference points to her dance work's origination story. Originators blends identity politics with cultural histories from a recent trip to Mexico, where Valencia conducts an ethnography of Sonidero Dances. Mashed against these ethnographic observations are anecdotal revelations from Valencia's personal history and identity as a queer Latina woman born and raised in Chicago. With these subjects as root material, Valencia observes her past and draws direct links to where her work begins.
Three other performers help bring Originators to life: Elsa Brown as a domestic worker who makes seltzer, Lydia Okrent as a dancer guiding Valencia through complex dance routines, and Kate Brandt as a mother figure, calling the performance in stage manager fashion, and keeping everyone on track. Told in a personal tone, Originators is a cosmogram of marginality, class, and life that is dependent on the collective experience to physically and spiritually lift each other up.
With performers Mariana Valencia, Lydia Okrent, Elsa Brown and Kate Brandt; script, costume and set by Mariana Valencia; lighting design by Elliott Jenetopulos.