A Celebratory and Scrappy Farewell (and Hi there) in Queens


As Satisfaction marches crammed the town over the weekend, a festive procession of a special sort was making its approach by way of Lengthy Island Metropolis, Queens. On Sunday afternoon, accompanied by a stay brass band and the screeching 7 practice overhead, a small however enthusiastic crowd walked — and danced — the mile and a half from 5-49 forty ninth Avenue to 38-29 twenty fourth Road.

These addresses are the previous and new areas of the Chocolate Manufacturing facility Theater, an artist-run group identified for giving performers ample house, time and freedom to create. After 17 years in its idiosyncratic rented constructing on forty ninth Avenue, the theater is shifting to a bigger — and possibly equally idiosyncratic — everlasting dwelling on twenty fourth Road. On Wednesday, the Chocolate Manufacturing facility’s founders and administrators, Sheila Lewandowski and Brian Rogers, will flip over the keys to the house they’ve leased since 2004 — whose white brick partitions have witnessed tons of of adventurous performances. (Rogers stated the following tenant can be “a doggy spa” whose house owners plan to renovate.)

To bid its longtime dwelling farewell, the theater hosted two afternoons of performances on Saturday and Sunday alongside the road outdoors the previous constructing, culminating in Sunday’s procession throughout the neighborhood. The “outside quasi-mini-‘competition,’” because it was billed, featured greater than 20 artists whose work has been offered by the Chocolate Manufacturing facility. In choices from Justin Allen, Maria Bauman, Ayano Elson, Keely Garfield, Heather Kravas, Marion Spencer, the musical duo Yackez and plenty of others, the spirit was celebratory and scrappy, a becoming tribute to the rough-edged house indoors.

That intimate house has usually appeared inseparable from the work that occurs there, its quirks an infinite supply of choreographic inspiration. Ask Chocolate Manufacturing facility regulars what they’ll miss about it, and so they may point out the nails protruding of the partitions, the uncovered radiators or — a favourite function — the elevator shaft in a single nook, which linked the intense upstairs theater with the murky basement (additionally used for performances).

“I’ve all the time beloved the elevator shaft and watching what individuals do with that nook, how individuals crawl out and in of it,” stated Alexandra Rosenberg, the chief director of Heart for Efficiency Analysis in Brooklyn, who attended each days of the competition. As a home supervisor on the Chocolate Manufacturing facility from 2007 to 2012, she additionally developed a keenness for works that migrated between upstairs and downstairs: “The basement is fairly doomy-gloomy and brings you into sort of a nightmare. It was very efficient for lots of reveals.”

On Sunday, the dancers Anna Sperber and Angie Pittman started a duet in that underground house earlier than main the viewers out to the road — technically the final efficiency contained in the previous constructing.

Whereas the rawness of the inside may pose challenges, that was additionally a part of its enchantment. “Generally a wonderfully outfitted, pristine house will not be actually consistent with messy, soiled, sweaty, smelly dance,” stated Garfield, who led Saturday’s viewers in a easy and playful dance routine to “New York, New York.”

Compelled to cope with the structure, “Individuals did actually inventive issues,” stated the choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones, who stopped by the competition on Saturday. He recalled a piece by Antonio Ramos that reworked the awkward entryway — slender and slanted — right into a tunnel, by way of which the viewers exited on the finish of the present.

“I favored the surfaces of every little thing,” stated Kravas, who on Sunday danced a resolute sidestepping solo to “Repetition” by the Fall, at one level disappearing into the constructing. (In line with the music, she did the entire thing once more afterward.) “You actually labored with the partitions and flooring and nails and radiators. In a approach, the house was like one other physique.”

The house may solid a spell even from afar. “I discovered the Chocolate Manufacturing facility by way of the web,” Elson stated on Saturday, after sharing a meditative passage of a current work. As a school scholar, she spent hours immersed within the theater’s huge, public Vimeo archive, which incorporates full-length recordings of performances. Earlier than she ever visited in individual, she stated, it was “an area that I adored and realized from.”

With out permission to actually discover, artists may not have discovered the house so generative. Rogers and Lewandowski, artists themselves (they was once collaborators, and had been married after which divorced), have positioned few limitations on what individuals can do there.

“Once they say, ‘Come right here and play and experiment and transfer the furnishings round and don’t fear about making a multitude,’ it actually creates an environment that’s conducive to discovery and shock,” stated Garfield, who had a number of residencies within the previous constructing.

Because the theater settles into its new dwelling — two adjoining warehouses that had been as soon as a software and die manufacturing facility — that ethos will doubtless endure, together with the founders’ cultivation of native relationships. Spend a while outdoors the previous house speaking with Lewandowski, who lives on the identical block, and also you received’t get far and not using a pleasant interruption, as she catches up with neighbors passing by.

For Bauman — who supplied an excerpt on Sunday from her work “Want: A Sankofa Dream,” a potent pairing of dance and poetry — that neighborly mind-set issues.

“One factor I’ve appreciated in regards to the Chocolate Manufacturing facility,” she stated, “is that they’ve considered themselves not solely as a house for artists, however as a neighbor to the individuals and companies and households who’re already right here.” When invited to carry out on the farewell, she added, “I felt loads of belief that it wouldn’t be an imposition on the neighborhood.”

It was an area band, the 4 members of Liftoff Brass, whose music fueled the procession from one Queens theater to a different. Lewandowski led the best way, stopping on avenue corners to bop. Alongside twenty third Road, she identified the Chocolate Manufacturing facility’s namesake, a former confectionary the place she and Rogers as soon as shared a studio with visible artists.

However the temper was extra forward-looking than nostalgic; there was a lot to have fun. By a uncommon association with the town, the Chocolate Manufacturing facility has come to personal its new constructing debt-free, an enormous deal for a New York nonprofit of its measurement. To have a everlasting facility, Rogers stated, “is the one approach I do know of for a small or midsize group like ours to outlive long-term.” The primary season within the new constructing is scheduled to start in October, he stated.

Because the march reached its vacation spot, crossing the edge of a cool and echoey warehouse, contemporary prospects got here into view: a staircase ascending to a small balcony; new nooks and wall protrusions; skylights letting within the late-afternoon solar.

“The house contained in the previous Chocolate Manufacturing facility is an area inside every of us,” Garfield had stated the day earlier than, “so we are going to carry it with us into the following house.”



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