YBCA and Youth Speaks Living Word Project are proud to present the second edition of Left Coast Leaning. This year's lineup includes Miwa Matreyek (LA), José Navarrete and Violeta Luna (Bay Area), The 605 Collective (Vancouver, BC), Adia Tamar Whitaker (Bay Area) and The Living Word Project Becomes Flesh (Bay Area).
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, and to integrate 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.
A measure of our mutual privilege as cultural curators is the extent of global travel we all make in search of artistic gold to bring back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. In the summer of 2008, on the precipice of collective recalibration, we all shared a romantic and acute assessment of the international performance scene. As with the unheralded and under reported demographic shifts that presaged Obama's electoral victory, there was also an under–appreciated aesthetic transition bubbling under the surface of the New York–centric performance community that spans the North American East Coast and extends to Western Europe. Similarly, a shared yet disparate language was emanating from the urban centers of the West Coast that extended north and south to the tips of two continents, cascading throughout the Pacific Rim, accented by Asian and Polynesian culture. In the open window that looked onto the world, we all agreed that the best view to be had was actually right here in California and, that given this vantage point, we were uniquely positioned to galvanize our global community around a new center of activity. From these early conversations, Left Coast Leaning was born and became a cornerstone project of the YBCA Big Idea Encounter: Engaging the social context.
Left Coast Leaning anticipates an emerging post–hip hop aesthetic, one that is driven by multiple urban literacies and is particularly responsive to West Coast demographic realities. The curators of LCL, situated at the progressive edge of the United States, use the festival format to make a statement about this specific trajectory of West Coast Arts, enabling audiences and festival artists to develop shared vocabulary across performance disciplines. We believe common points of performance intention include:
• A sensitivity to the immigrant cultures that are at the heart of California's growth and represent the future of the country.
• The presentation of a counter narrative to the narrow frame of hip hop arts as projected by the corporate imagination.
• An urgent adherence to transgressive attitudes towards gender and sexuality.
• An implicit demonstration of energetic reciprocity AS performance and also IN performance that resists participant norms and challenges audiences to viscerally engage artists on THEIR terms.
• A next–generation repositioning of modernism that shifts marginalized forms, such as spoken word, media arts, performance installation, puppetry, deejaying, and contemporary folklore, from the periphery to the center of contemporary performance practice.
Our vision of Left Coat Leaning furthers the larger community dialogue around Encounter: Engaging the Social Context, by presenting a diverse group of artists exposing and challenging some of the inequities that exist in the contemporary world, making us think more deeply about issues of social justice, creating change and striving for a better world. Through the festival, we want to establish the Bay Area as a place for artists, scholars, and arts lovers to encounter New Majority America. As we celebrate the animation, kinesthetic text and vibrant music of the artists in play, we also initiate a new narrative, one that we'll passionately extend into performance seasons to come, knowing that the performance world is leaning in to watch.
Adia Tamar Whitaker
Adia Tamar Whitaker is artistic director of ASE Dance Theatre Collective, a Brooklyn Neo–folkloric performance ensemble. Since 2000, ASE has presented work that links modern dance, original vernacular movement and traditional dance theater from the African Diaspora to conceptual ideas in the human experience. We are dedicated to preserving the past, present, and future of the African presence in the "New World." Under the musical direction of Sekou Alaje, ASE presents the African Diaspora's diverse dance and musical repertoire.
The 605 Collective
The 605 Collective is an interdisciplinary group of Vancouver-based dance artists committed to the creation and performance of new work inspired by both urban and contemporary dance. The freedom found in this cohesion, along with the merging of their distinct movement and perspectives, has awakened an exciting, fresh, and unpredictable aesthetic to capture new audiences. These versatile artists experiment and create by using one another as the canvas for their ideas and visions. The cooperative team explores new paths and creative methods to build performance experiences that are powerful, visually stirring, and ultimately engaging. Through a constant collaboration, pulling from their diverse movement vocabularies, the collective members continue pushing past their individual limitations towards new possibilities. 605 has emerged with a strong vision to offer a highly athletic art form, with extreme physicality derived from the human experience. Their work continues to test and challenge the full capacity of the dancers while acknowledging their unique qualities as both performers and as personalities. As part of a new generation of Canadian creators, The 605 Collective aims to become a company known for its movement innovation and physically demanding works, valuing collaboration as an essential tool for new directions in dance.
Miwa Matreyek is an award–winning animator, designer, and multimedia artist working in the LA area. She creates animated short films as well as works that integrate animation and live performance/ installation via projection. Matreyek is interested in how animation transforms when it is combined with body and space (and vice–versa) and takes on a more physical and present quality, while body and space take on a more fantastical quality. Her solo video–performance, Dreaming of Lucid Living, won the Princess Grace Award for Film, as well as two awards at the Platform International Animation Festival: Student Grand Prix and Audience Choice Award for Best Installation. She is a founding-member and core-collaborator of the performance media group, Cloud Eye Control. She holds a MFA from CalArt's Experimental Animation program.
Violeta Luna is a performance artist and actress whose work explores the relationship between theatre, performance art and community engagement. Working within a multidimensional space that allows for the crossing of aesthetic and conceptual borders, Luna uses her body as a territory to question and comment on social and political phenomena. Born in Mexico City, she studied at El Centro Universitario de Teatro, UNAM and La Casa del Teatro. She has performed and taught workshops extensively throughout Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Spain, France, the UK, Slolvenia and the US. She is currently an associate artist of La Pocha Nostra, a San Francisco-based interdisciplinary performance collective under the direction of Guillermo Gómez Peña, and a member of the performance collective Secos & Mojados.
José Navarrete is a native of México City. He studied theater at the National Actors Association's Institute Soler and dance at the National Institute of Fine Arts in México. José's choreographic work has been presented by the Bay Area Dance Series, the San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Dance Festival, Summerfest, Theater Artaud, ODC Theater, and Dance Mission Theater. He has also received two nominations for the Isadora Duncan award in choreography and performance. In 2004, he was awarded a Bessie Schönberg Choreographers residency at The Yard and a Djerassi Resident Artist Program fellowship. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, and an MFA in Dance from Mills College. Navarrete choreographs and performs as part of Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Company and also teaches dance to youth in YBCA’s Young Artists at Work program.
The Living Word Project
The Living Word Project is the resident theater company of Youth Speaks Inc, committed to producing literary performance & verse-based work that is spoken through the body, illustrated by visual and sonic scores, and in communication with the important social issues and movements of the immediate moment. In a Re-Creation of Word Becomes Flesh—directed by Marc Bamuthi Joseph—the Living Word Project gathers Daveed Diggs, Dahlak Brathwaite, Dion Decibels, Ben Turner, Mic Turner and B.Yung to present a series of performed letters to an unborn son. Using poetry, dance and live music, the collective documents nine months of pregnancy from a young, single father's perspective. Word Becomes Flesh is commissioned by the National Performance Network Re-Creation Initiative, La Pena Cultural Center, Painted Bride, Dance Place and Youth Speaks with principal development support from Z Space Studios in San Francisco.
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
The San Francisco Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Adobe Foundation Fund
YBCA Performance 10–11 is made possible in part by:
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 10–11:
Zellerbach Family Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts