Join Battery Dance for the world premiere of Hofmann Dances, a trio of new dance works inspired by Hans Hofmann, one of the 20th century’s most influential painters and teachers.
Guest choreographers Saeed Hani, Tsai Hsi Hung, and Christopher “Unpezverde” Núñez explore Hofmann’s poetic imagery, groundbreaking painting techniques and use of brilliant color. Together their three works embody Hofmann’s legacy of imagination and abstract expression.
Hofmann Dances is supported by the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Support for the student matinee is provided by The Pierre & Tana Matisse Foundation.
Tickets & Directions
Thursday, May 19 - 7pm.. Buy Tickets
Friday, May 20 - 2pm*|
*Due to the sudden rise in COVID cases in New York City, the student matinee has been cancelled. Members of the public who purchased tickets will receive a refund and an invitation to attend one of the evening shows. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Friday, May 20 - 7pm.| Buy Tickets
All audience members must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or provide the negative results of a PCR test administered no more than 72 hours prior to the show. Face masks are required inside the Schimmel Center.
3 Spruce Street
New York, NY 10013
About the Works & Choreographers
Saeed Hani explores the sense of home that Hofmann’s paintings "Olive Grove" and "The Wind" evoke for him. The artworks relate to the natural beauty of Syria and the spiral of war that has forced a generation of artists to flee. "The olive tree is a symbol of my Syrian homeland and reminds me of a time of innocence during my childhood, when no one could conceive that events would tear the country apart," he said. "In utter contrast is Hofmann’s representation of wind which represents for me the upheaval and chaos that descended on my country and forced me to leave." These strong emotions are channeled into "The Wind in the Olive Grove."
Tsai Hsi Hung
"A Certain Mood" is inspired by the Hans Hofmann painting of the same name. In researching Hofmann, Hung was inspired by his use of space and color. "It gave me a feeling of darkness moving into light," she said. "As a painter, I often transpose the movement of the brushstroke into my choreography. I wanted to capture the vibrant quality of Hofmann’s work by showcasing the athletic movements of the dancers and embody the energy of the painting."
In his work "Above Deep Waters", Núñez draws inspiration from the life and artistic practice of Hans Hofmann. As a visually impaired choreographer, Núñez has a special interest in expanding Audio Description as an artistic medium, inviting the visually impaired and all audience members to experience color and composition in a multi-dimensional way. "Above Deep Waters" uses titles of Hofmann's paintings to create poetic games of voice and text. The dancers explore their identities and relationships with color through an emotional and spiritual lens. Núñez's connection to Hofmann came in early childhood, after a violent incident left him nearly blind: “While recovering in the hospital, my art teacher showed me a book by Hans Hofmann. I was almost blind but I was able to recognize and appreciate his paintings through the color.”
Interviews with the Choreographers
What inspired you about Hans Hofmann’s abstract works “The Wind” and “Olive Grove”?
When I looked at Hans Hofmann’s paintings, these two pieces caught me. First, in the painting “The Wind” there is chaos and mystery. Second, as a Syrian, I am very connected to an olive grove. That’s where we play as children. We’re hiding toys and running around. There were generations of children in that grove. But if I look now, there are no children playing. Now it is destroyed. The olive grove became the wind. So the title of my work is “The Wind in the Olive Grove”
When you came to New York in April to work with Battery Dance, how did you start the creative process?
These dancers are so physically strong. But everyone is vulnerable at times. I asked them to connect with being children and show some movement from their childhood. Be that child in the olive grove.
It sounds like you’re also working with peace imagery. Olive trees are slow-growing and need long periods without war, yes?
Yes. The olive grove needs peace, and I wish the entire world would have time to grow an olive grove. The world is connected, but we still have war in so many places.
In Syria now, ten-year-old boys are speaking like old men. They are forced to be older. They do not speak about playing. They talk about how to dig in the ground to get potatoes or sticks for a fire.
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing “The Wind in the Olive Grove”?
I’m trying to stick to the abstract. Abstract paintings allow you to imagine and to see it your way. I want to keep it open.
Tsai Hsi Hung
Your new dance work is named “A Certain Mood,” after the Hans Hofmann painting of the same name. How did this painting inspire you?
Hofmann’s style is abstract, so I used my imagination. I see the red at the center as the heart of a person. And I thought about what the painting would look like if it were in 3-D. When I am painting, I think about that, too.
I did a lot of research. I took a lot of screenshots, and then made a PDF, so I could capture what I wanted. Sometimes I looked at the painting upside down. I zoomed in closely, and there is a lot of detail. That gave me more information!
How did you select your music?
I worked with a composer to create four different sections. First, there is silence and drums, then graceful piano. Then it’s on the dark side. I put in a lot of hand gestures. I was inspired by when you walk on the street and you see a lot going on. Then the last part is like a sunrise.
I see it all as part of my journey, from darkness to sunshine. I grew up in Taiwan and being here [in the US] is all new.
As a painter yourself, you connected with Hofmann’s “push and pull” painting technique. How did that influence you?
“Push and pull” for me is like yin and yang. Dark and light. I also feel the energy of the dancers. They are so good and they always give me ideas. I have one idea and then they do something in reaction. I like that the dancers have different energies.
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing “A Certain Mood”?
I want the audience to enjoy it and have free space to think. You could watch it one day and feel something, then if you saw it another day, maybe you would feel a different emotion.
How do you connect to Hans Hofmann’s work?
I became visually impaired as a child, after a physical attack perpetrated by my father. While recovering in the hospital, my art teacher showed me a book by Hans Hofmann. I was almost blind but I was able to recognize and appreciate his paintings through the color. As a Visually Impaired choreographer, audio description is at the core of my practice. For this piece, I decided to explain color through movement, sound, text, and narrative for Blind, Low Vision and Visually Impaired communities.
The soundscape for your work “Above Deep Waters” includes rhythmic spoken word. How did you write the text?
The text is a combination of things. First, I wanted to honor that we are all surviving a pandemic. Every day with the dancers, we would do "check ins." I asked: Where do you come from? Are you coming from a moment of grief? Are you exhausted? We started creating text out of our experiences. Second, I used titles of Hans Hofmann’s paintings. Hofmann once said a title could ruin the painting. He was a visual artist but also a poet. He was a master of imagination! Third, some of the text describes the movement happening in the moment, which is a traditional approach to audio description practices.
What are some of the titles of the paintings?
“Rhythmic Composition” is one. “Art Like Love is Dedication,” which is beautiful and one of my favorites. “Deep Within the Ravine.” The other day I was trying to remember what text was from us and what were the paintings titles? It’s all combined now and hard to separate!
What do you hope the audience takes away after seeing “Above Deep Waters”?
I am celebrating that Battery Dance is opening space for immigrant and disabled artists. I wish more dance companies would invite disabled choreographers to expand and amplify what dance means. Dance can be a sound experience. It can be a multi-dimensional experience. The work I am doing, along with other disabled choreographers in the disability arts field is expanding the notion of dance. I want audiences to experience other forms of dance, beyond and despite the visual content.
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