Uptown / Downtown

A Workshop & Performance Opportunity

What does it mean to be an Uptown or Downtown Artist? Is the idea grounded in geography? Community? Aesthetics? How can we bring these artists and ideas together?

Uptown/Downtown provides an opportunity for participating artists to:

  • Work with and learn from artists working in different performing disciplines, communities and career stages
  • Explore the feedback process as a tool for developing their own work and responding to the work of others
  • Develop a work-in-progress performance in a supportive and responsive environment
  • Connect with artists, spaces, and resources in two of Manhattan’s most vibrant creative communities

Uptown / Downtown 2010 will culminate in two multidisciplinary evenings of performance:

  • Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 7:30PM,
Chen Dance Center
  • Thursday, November 11, 2010, 7:30PM,
Dance Theatre of Harlem

Both events are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. Click on a date above to RSVP.

Participating Artists

Queen Esther

Queen Esther is a multi-disciplinary artist.

She is a graduate of The New School in screenwriting, the Governor’s Honors Program (state of Georgia) in theater and a Merit Award recipient in National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts’ ARTS program in acting. Her work as a vocalist, lyricist, songwriter and actor/solo performer and playwright has led to creative collaborations in neo-vaudeville, alternative theater, various alt-rock configurations, (neo) swing bands, trip hop DJs, spoken word performances, jazz combos, jam bands, various blues configurations, original Off Broadway plays and musicals, experimental music/art noise and performance art.

Her production Queen Esther’s Stagedoor Canteen -- a weekly hour-long USO style variety show that welcomed performers to entertain the relief workers at Ground Zero for free -- received an honorary Drama Desk award.

As a featured actor in Bravo TV’s documentary series The It Factor, an AUDELCO award-nominated star of George C. Wolfe’s Harlem Song, and Grand Prize winner of the 2008 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition, Queen Esther continues to create solo performance art as well as genre-defying original music while thriving in ongoing creative partnerships in jazz.

Her newly-released jazz CD What Is Love? is currently garnering rave reviews and receiving radio airplay worldwide.

Shannon Gillen

photo: Victoria Wall

Shannon Gillen received her BFA from The Juilliard School where her choreography was produced at Alice Tully Hall, the Peter J. Sharp Theater, and the Clark Studio Theater. Upon graduating, Gillen studied Meisner acting at the Maggie Flanigan Studio and served as choreographer to theater company Sintroca on Lasanta, a multi-disciplinary work, premiering at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater. She went on to hold residency with Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Swing Space, and Dance New Amsterdam’s AIR. She has presented original work at the International Dance Festival Oltre Passo in Lecce, Italy, HERE Arts Center, LMCC’s Sitelines series, Wave Rising Festival, and was a finalist in Joyce SoHo's The A.W.A.R.D. Show 2009. Recently, Gillen was invited to the international choreographic festival Springboard Danse in Montreal, where she premiered GABBRO at Usine C. She was also selected to choreograph for REVERB Festival 2010 and will premiere, eluvium at Purchase College and Alvin Ailey in September. Gillen will teach master classes at The Rover in October and is a participant in LMCC’s Uptown/Downtown program to develop WALL a site-specific commission to premiere in Miami in December. Upcoming performances in 2011 include invited participation in DNA’s APAP performances, Judson Church with Movement Research and Conversations at the Flea.

Ranardo-Domeico Grays

Ranardo-Domeico Grays, artistic director/choreographer VISIONS Contemporary Ballet, is a member of SAG, AEA, and a native of Detroit, Michigan. He performed with the Hartford City Ballet, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Urban Wash Dance Company, LaToya Jackson Tour, Garth Fagan, Zack Morris, Celebrity Cruises and has toured throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. An alumnus of The Juilliard School and California Institute of the Arts (BFA), he has also studied at the Alvin Ailey School and the Interlochen Arts Academy.

VISIONS Contemporary Ballet, established in 2005, has performed at a number of venues, including many in NYC: April 2010 at Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall; in September and November 2009 VISIONS presented an evening of works, “In Remembrance” at the Roy Arias Theater; and was part of the Blaktino Performance Series, the Bronx, in October 2009. Visions has also performed at the Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, The Flea Theater, and the Producers Club. VISIONS expresses human emotions using many dance genres--ballet, modern, jazz, African and Latin, as well as traditional spiritual gospel, funk and hip hop. All can see the truth of VISIONS when opening their eyes by listening to the heart and soul.

Joyce Griffen

Joyce holds memberships in Actors Equity, AFTRA, and SAG. Her most favorite theater performances were the lead in John O. Killens’ Cotillion, with the New Federal Theater and as Woman One in From the Mississippi Delta, produced by the Negro Ensemble Company. A Harlem Arts Alliance screenwriting workshop Fellow, Joyce’s other writing includes the screenplay Po’ Robin and Uncle Bay and Madame C.J. Walker – A Musical Biography presented at the Museum of the City of New York. Joyce’s one-act Formerly Known as Sarah earned her the Arthur Miller Fellowship from the Lunch Hour Theater at Gramercy Park’s Players Club. It has been presented in concert at the Museum of the City of New York, at St. John’s University, and by the Maxine Greene Foundation in Manhattan. Joyce’s directing credits include Spinning into Butter at the Schoolhouse Theater, Croton Falls; Zora Speaks, at the Theater at Riverside Church; and Chuleta, by Lillian Santos. Also an accomplished jazz singer, Joyce’s duo jazz CD, Alone Together, and her live club performances can be viewed and heard at www.myspace.com/joycegriffen, and on Facebook.

Yvette Heyliger

photo: Dwight Carter

Yvette Heyliger is a writer/director/producing artist and partner in Twinbiz. She wrote and directed What Would Jesus Do? at the Billie Holiday Theatre which has received eight Audelco nominations including Playwright and Dramatic Production of the Year. On the other side of the footlights, Yvette played Aunt Sarah on the NBC hit, Cosby Show, but was most recently seen in Tribecca Performing Arts Center’s Writers in Performance where she wrote and performed her original poetry. Yvette directed her play, The Valentine, in John Chatterton’s Short Play Lab. Her play, A Better Wife, was selected for Girl Play: The Second Annual Lesbian Play Reading Festival. She was nominated for Best Director in Strawberry One-Act Festival. Yvette has directed and presented her plays in National Black Theatre Festival, Midtown International Theatre Festival, Gloucester Stage Company, and Hollywood Court Theatre where she was honored with an NAACP Theatre Award nomination for Best Playwright, for her published play, Autobiography of A Homegirl. Excerpts are in Smith and Kraus’ The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 2003 and The Best Stage Scenes 2003. Look for her new book, What A Piece of Work Is Man!: Plays for Leading Women. Yvette is an advocate for parity for women theatre artists.

Sherri Kronfeld

Sherri Kronfeld directs new plays, writes poems/plays/songs, leads a rock band, and is a performer. Artistic Director of SUPERWOLF, for whom she directed Nothing to Hide: one-acts by Bekah Brunstetter, Jason Grote, and others, with live rock music in NYC (Facebook: SUPERWOLF). London credits: created and directed In The Face Of, UK premieres by Will Eno, Eric Meyer and Adam Rapp, with live rock music; the premiere of I Am Montana by Sam Hunter at The Arcola. NYC directing: premieres by Adam Rapp, Tommy Smith, Alice Tuan, Ken Urban, and others at E.S.T., The Flea, HERE, Dixon Place, and more. Regional: Inge Center, KS, and Harvard/A.R.T. Artistic Associate: The Great Recession, The Flea. Assistant Director to Adam Rapp, John Gould Rubin and Jim Simpson. Sherri created band awesome; as ‘Sherri Forever’ she does most of the songwriting, some of the singing, and as much of the egg-shaking as possible. Playwriting: What It Feels Like.. To Vacation with Mennonites, at E.S.T.; Drive, at HERE. Recent acting: I Had A Dream, by Bekah Brunstetter; Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. Sherri is on staff at The Mint Theater. B.A. Theater (directing and playwriting), Barnard College, Columbia University; Magna Cum Laude.

Olivia Hallie Lehrman

photo: Daniel Solomon

An acrobat/comedienne, Olivia Hallie Lehrman has performed flying trapeze,character, aerial, and clown work with Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus, Espana Family Circus, with Boulder's Octopus League, as part of Naropa University's Master Thesis Projects, as company member of Cirque Boom, on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and twice at Carnegie Hall (she was twelve). She has studied at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, Vassar College, with the NY Goofs, Giovanni Fusetti and Avner the Eccentric, and from her amazing friends. She teaches Pilates and childrens' circus arts all over the city; for mo'livia, take a trip to www.landinthe.net.

Annie G. Levy

Annie G. Levy is a New York based director, collaborative artist and educator who frequently works with Mythology and Ritual. Recently she directed Six Seeds: The Persephone Project at spaceonwhite, a collaborative piece exploring the myth of Persephone and its relevance to contemporary womanhood. Selected other New York credits include the off Broadway premiere of Nurses!, Gomorrah (HERE Arts Center), The B File (the 78th Street Theatre Lab), The Jewbird (Stanford Meisner Theatre and Untitled Theater Company #61). Annie’s International credits include The Assembly Rooms (Edinburgh, Scotland), Discoteca di Storia (Rome, Italy) and Acadia University (Nova Scotia, Canada). Annie is a founding member and the resident director of the Northwoods Theatre Company where her past credits include The Jewish Wife, by Bertolt Brecht, The Hero of Kabul by Marc Goldsmith and company created Garden. Walk. Wonder. (based on the respective poetry of Ra’hel, Charles Reznikoff and Shel Silverstein) and Harvest (based on the mythology of Bob Dylan). Annie is the recipient of a 2003 Steven Spielberg Fellowship in Theatre Arts Education and an Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2008 directing assistantship. She is a member of the 2009 and 2010 Lincoln Center Directors Lab and is an adjunct faculty member at Pace University.

Regina Nejman

photo: Rodney Zagury

From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, based in New York City, Regina Nejman has been creating her own choreography since 1993 and created Regina Nejman & Company in 1997. Recipient of the Outstanding Choreography Award at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival for the premiere of The Velocity of Things, Regina was a 2007-2008 Artist-in-Residence at Joyce SoHo and a 2008 DTW Outer/Space resident. Her work was presented at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Joyce SoHo, Symphony Space, The 2002 and 2005 FringeNYC, DNA, DTW’s Fresh Tracks, Merce Cunningham Studio, Dixon Place, and other venues. Her Company toured to Brazil in 2006 and 2007 and in 2009, her film Reveal, a collaboration with filmmaker Alan McIntyre Smith with music by Mio Morales, was presented at a Brazilian International Dance Film Festival. She has received support from The Greenwall Foundation, Puffin Foundation, LMCC/ MCAF; Meet the Composer, MFTA, space grants from 92nd Street Y, Queens Museum of Art, Abrons Arts Center. Regina received her BA from SUNY/ Empire State College in 1998. She received commissions from Princeton University (1999, 2005), The Yard, and New Jersey City University. In 2010, Regina received a Mondo Cane Commission from Dixon Place where she premiered Annette.

Ye Taik

photo: Azumi Oe

Ye Taik is a performing artist / avant-garde dancer (Born - Rangoon, Burma).
He dedicates most of his time as a collaborative choreographer, performer, curator, experimental theater artist and playwright, to discovering and developing cultural interactions through art and performance. Part of the philosophical background of Ye Taik's work has been his idea of art and performance as a language onto itself without borders or boundaries, the power of art as a vital way to initiate peaceful intercultural communication, and to develop means of conflict resolution. He is not especially attached to the concept of national identity. Circumstances have brought him to move around from an early point in his life, and he has felt compelled to continue on doing so, for this experience has made him consider things in a wider perspectives without restrictions.

He had a pleasure to work with No-Where NOW-here, The Internationalists, Vangeline Theater, Around the World in 24 hours Festival , Performa 09, Williamsburg ArtneXus, AMDat, Center for Performance Research , Collaborations in Dance Festival, Triskelion Arts and public venues including United Nation Plaza. Recently , His work is in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Sponsoring Organizations

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been a leading voice for arts and culture Downtown and throughout New York City for over 35 years, producing cultural events and promoting the arts through grants, services, advocacy, and cultural development programs.

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is dedicated to making Manhattan a thriving center of arts activity with relevance to the arts community worldwide. It does this through a range of grants, cultural programs and advocacy.

The Harlem Arts Alliance

The Harlem Arts Alliance (HAA) is a non-profit service organization committed to the development of artists and arts organizations in Harlem and its surrounding communities. Comprised of over 700 individual artists and arts organizations, HAA plays an essential role by helping to build the resources, network, and capacity of its richly diverse membership. Counted among its members are young emerging artists as well as established and internationally recognized artists. Also represented are small grassroots organizations and major cultural institutions in Harlem and beyond. In addition, HAA maintains strong partnerships with numerous arts organization and institutions throughout New York State, the region and the nation to maintain vital collaborative efforts to promote the arts in communities.

The Field

Founded by artists for artists, The Field has been dedicated to providing impactful services to thousands of performing artists in New York City and beyond since 1986. From fostering creative exploration to stewarding innovative fundraising strategies, we are delighted to help artists reach their fullest potential. Now in our 24th year, more than 1,900 performing artists come to The Field each year to build their businesses. Each year 2,000+ new art works are developed under our stewardship, and our services are replicated in 11 cities across the U.S. and Europe. In tandem with this significant growth, we remain true to our grassroots origin and artist-centered mission to: strategically serve the myriad artistic and administrative needs of independent performing artists and companies who work in the fields of dance, theater, music, text, and performance art.

Grantee Spotlight »

Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company

Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company

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