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Janine Antoni, Anna Halprin, Stephen Petronio, Rope Dance, 2015. Photo: Hugo Glendinning. Stephen Petronio, Broken Man, 2002. Photo credit: Sarah Sliver. Stephen Petronio Company, Like Lazarus Did, 2013. Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes.
Janine Antoni, Anna Halprin, Stephen Petronio, Rope Dance, 2015. Photo: Hugo Glendinning.
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Stephen Petronio, Broken Man, 2002. Photo credit: Sarah Sliver.
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Stephen Petronio Company, Like Lazarus Did, 2013. Photo credit: Julieta Cervantes.
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Stephen Petronio

For the past three decades, dancer and choreographer Stephen Petronio has been creating works that are on the cutting edge of modern dance. In dances choreographed for the Stephen Petronio Company, of which Petronio is the Founder and Artistic Director, and commissioned by other dance companies worldwide, Petronio has developed a highly unique movement style, resulting in dynamic and engaging pieces, full of fluid movements that manage to upend the viewer’s expectations for what is typical of modern dance. In Petronio’s own words, his movement “speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body informed by its shifting cultural context” (Stephen Petronio Company Website).
 
Throughout his career, Petronio has made a point of collaborating with artists outside of the dance world, such as composers Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed, visual artist Cindy Sherman, and fashion designers Jillian Lewis and Tara Subkoff/Imitation of Christ. He has also repeatedly worked with visual artist Janine Antoni, who created a theatrical set for his 2013 piece Like Lazarus Did and collaborated with him on the video project Honey Baby that same year.
 
In Ally, a project that will debut at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Spring 2016, Petronio will once again collaborate with Janine Antoni, now alongside fellow collaborator Anna Halprin, the founder of the San Francisco Dancer’s Workshop and a pioneer of the expressive arts healing movement. Culminating in new interdisciplinary and collaborative performances, Ally will provide an opportunity for each artist to explore the boundaries of his or her own genre as well as the possible connections between visual art, performance art, and dance. 
 
Artistic Statement
I believe in the power of movement and the rigorous process of welding ideas into original physical worlds. I believe in the power of those worlds to provoke a deeply felt response that moves far beyond our intellectual and rational selves. The Stephen Petronio Company was formed in pursuit of an idiosyncratic language, articulate and exacting in detail. Thirty years later, Petronio-speak is now firmly established.
 
My language is a continuum of motion predicated on the conscious direction of energy throughout the body and out into space. The spine undulates, twisting and torquing -- hips sling and thrust forward off the legs and into the eye of the audience -- head and limbs whip through space extending out into arcs of enlivened calligraphy – literal and personal gestures bubble up to the surface and disappear back into the dense mix.
 
Parallel to this focus is an adamant belief in the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration. Dance can speak with candor and invention of a cultural moment most sublimely in tandem with other artistic disciplines - contemporary music, visual arts, text, and fashion. I am inspired by the artists from these disciplines in an immediate way when we are face to face (and often head to head). We prod each other into new discovery and I have been fortunate to work with a select group of challenging and provocative colleagues.
 
My artistic concerns shift constantly, but the following run throughout my investigations with some modicum of regularity: multiple states of consciousness in the body; physical play; the accidental discovery that defies logic and the tools that facilitate these "accidents"; rapidly shifting architectural structures; the relationship between order and chaos; issues of power and control; communal structures for behaving and how groups create through a learned set of rules; hybrid constructions of gender and sexuality; relationship to pop culture; and the expansion of multigenerational and multidisciplinary collaborators.
 
Our dancing is fast, complex and labor intensive, often pushing dancers to their physical limits. Each dance begins by building raw "phrase work" on individual or groups of dancers that is memorized and becomes the kinetic building blocks for the work. These building blocks are used in a variety of ways: verbatim, varied in some kind of structural device, or in a problem solving situation intended to disorient the dancers into a state of intuitive/reflexive response. The dance is joined with its collaborative elements as the dance evolves.
 
The intuitive life of the body is one of rich wisdom and reward. As our material wealth and the hyper-pursuit of it are called into question, we enter into a period of reassessment of our values. I believe that the role of dance, as a primary art, can be revealed for its enhanced worth. 

Bio

American, born 1956 in Newark, NJ, lives and works in New York, NY

For over 30 years, Stephen Petronio has honed a unique language of movement that speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body informed by its shifting cultural context. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists in many disciplines over his career and holds the integration of multiple forms as fundamental to his creative drive and vision. Petronio received a BA from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, where he began his early training in improvisation and dance technique. He was greatly influenced by working with Steve Paxton and was the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Dance Company (1979 to 1986). He has gone on to build a unique career, receiving numerous accolades, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer Award, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, and most recently a 2015 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. His work has been presented globally and performed by some of the most significant companies working in contemporary dance.