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a canary torsi | Yanira Castro

Brooklyn, NY            

Puerto-Rican born and Brooklyn-based director/choreographer Yanira Castro is a Bessie-award-winning artist who collaborates with a core group of performers and designers on individual projects under the name, a canary torsi. Since 2009, they have created site-adaptable performance projects in a multiplicity of spaces–from warehouses, restrooms, and gardens to the stage. Their work is anchored in live performance and extends into other media and online platforms. Ranging from formal movement explorations and immersive environments to interactive video installations, a canary torsi explores the relationship between audience and event, developing scenarios where the audience’s presence dramatically impacts the work.

a canary torsi has been presented in New York by Abrons Arts Center, The Chocolate Factory, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, The Invisible Dog Art Center, Performance Space 122, ISSUE Project Room, and The Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), among others, and has toured nationally and internationally.

Their first project in 2009, Dark Horse/Black Forest at the Gershwin Hotel, won a New York Dance & Performance (aka Bessie) Award. Their participatory multimedia performance installation, The People to Come at The Invisible Dog Art Center, was nominated for a Bessie in “Outstanding Production of a work at the forefront of contemporary dance and performance practices” in 2013. The digital archive for The People to Come (thepeopletocome.org), was featured in The New Museum’s exhibit, “Performance Archiving Performance,” in 2013.  a canary torsi‘s interactive video installation, Performance | Portrait, was featured in 2016 at the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology’s 15th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology and the Conference for Research on Choreographic Interfaces at Brown University. A trilogy of works by a canary torsi, CAST, STAGE, AUTHOR, were simultaneously presented in three venues across three boroughs in New York City over three weeks in September 2017. In 2018, Castro collaborated with choreographer Melinda Ring on a version of Simone Forti’s Dance Construction, See Saw, for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibit, Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done.

Castro has been recognized with various awards for her work, including from The New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project and Expeditions touring programs, The MAP Fund, The Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, Trust for Mutual Understanding, USArtists International, NYFA Choreography Fellowship and a NYSCA Theater Commission. She has been commissioned by The Wooden Floor, Barnard College, Keene State College, Bates College, and Island Moving Dance Company to create new works on their dancers. She was recently a Yaddo Fellow and Marble House Project Artist (2018) and was a participant of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Extended Life program (2015-2017), a Returning Choreographic Fellow at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (2014-2013), BRIClab Artist (2016), and a Vermont Performance Lab Artist (2012). She is currently a New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Artist (2018-2020).

Castro received her B.A. in Theater & Dance and Literature from Amherst College. In 2017, she received an honorary doctorate in the arts from her alma mater.

STAGE (2017)

“It is enough to make us stop in our tracks and reconsider everything we have been led to believe about theater.”
Hilary Tanabe, Culturebot

Piece begins at 13:02.

STAGE is a visual and aural fantasia with live music by composer Stephan Moore and scenography by Kathy Couch. STAGE explores the role of theatrical devices in forming what an audience sees through a choreography of performer and stage machinations. It had its premiere at Abrons Arts Center’s Playhouse and was part of a trilogy, CAST, STAGE, AUTHOR, that premiered in Sep 2017.

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Court/Garden (2014)

Court/Garden (CG) had its world premiere Oct 2014 at Danspace Project and was adapted in June 2015 for LMCC’s River To River Festival for Federal Hall.

A spectacle in 3 acts, CG was a multimedia, dance and live music performance. It took as its inspiration the court ballets of King Louis XIV as a metaphor for the 1% and the participatory practices of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. CG delved into an operatic, spectacle-driven vocabulary to reflect on how we assemble and how our consumption of images is a reflection of our role as citizens.

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CAST (Process Video)

Created by Gibney’s Digital/Technology Iniative during our Dance-in-Process residency, this video gives insight into the process of developing CAST. CAST premiered at The Chocolate Factory Theater in September 2017 and was part of a trilogy of works CAST, STAGE, AUTHOR. In CAST, a computer-generated script was culled each night from transcripts of 100+ hours of conversation with the full ensemble about casting and representation. Four performers randomly selected from the ensemble negotiated a new score of movement and text at each performance.

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