Degenerate Art Ensemble

In residence: March 21 – April 4, 2011

Degenerate Art Ensemble

Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington

Seattle Times | Saturday, April 16

Degenerate Art Ensemble will focus on the completion of one of the chapters of their in-progress performance work, Red Shoes, which is set to premiere at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum in May of 2011. With limited opportunity to hold full rehearsals in the actual performance sites in Seattle, they will use the residency as a testing ground. Museum locations include a forest, a body of water, a field, and an indoor exhibition space – all spaces that exist on or nearby the Watermill grounds.

Red Shoes reimagines Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a girl who is cursed to dance herself to death as a punishment for following her creative desires. DAE describe their work as ‘live music driven, comedy / horror, butoh inspired physical theatre.’ Their performance will utilize the musical talents of local East End musicians and will explore audience involvement in both the creation of soundscapes as well as choreography in portions of the piece.

Degenerate Art Ensemble is a performance company that creates original and adventurous productions using live music, physical theater and the visceral language of Butoh dance. Audio elements include live foley art, orchestras/Chamber ensembles, bands, newly invented instruments, and electronics. Their creative approach is intensely collaborative and is in a constant state of invention and re-invention. Aesthetically extreme, influenced by punk, protest, cartoons, nightmares and fairy tales, DAE takes the viewer into otherworldly landscapes — full of compelling characters and music that doesn’t just accompany the action, but defines the mental state and reveals secrets to the audience that the characters will never know. DAE’s work is a tightly wound mechanism made up of triggers and cues that when released on stage aims to achieve a heightened sense of awareness one might find in a sacrificial rite. DAE has been presented by On The Boards (Seattle), REDCAT (L.A.), New Museum (N.Y.), Festival Alternativa (Prague), T.F.F. Festival (Germany) and many others in ten countries of Europe and North America.

DAE has since garnered acclaim with more than five hundred concerts and performances in ten countries. It has explored a diverse variety of formats, including music, dance, theater, film scoring, recording, sculpture, and painting in over one hundred original performative works and nine commercial music recordings. The group has received commissions from On the Boards, Commissioning Music USA, and the Aaron Copland Fund, and will be in residence at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center a Laboratory of Performance. DAE is currently the subject of a large scale touring museum exhibition at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle.

Haruko Nishimura, co-artistic director / dancer Cofounder, performer, and coartistic director for Degenerate Art Ensemble, Haruko Nishimura produces a steady stream of original works of physical theater and butoh dance, accompanied by live experimental music. Originally from Japan and now based in Seattle, Nishimura conducts artistic explorations that often involve making extreme aesthetic choices, with the intention of awakening truths hidden deep inside the viewer. She has choreographed, performed in, and codirected all of Degenerate Art Ensemble’s stage works for over a decade. Her performances include Brussels’ Kaaitheater with Meg Stewart’s company Damaged Goods (2007); a performance of ONION (2007) with the San Francisco-based dance theater company inkBoat at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; a featured performance at Rudolstadt’s TFF Festival in Germany (2007); and an artist residency and workshop at the New Museum, New York (2009), among others. In spring 2011 Nishimura will perform at the Center for Performance Research in New York City with Joshua Kohl, and she will be in a residency with DAE at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center: A Laboratory for Performance, Long Island, New York. She will also be preparing for the group’s newest work, Red Shoes, which premieres in May 2011 in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood—including at the Frye Art Museum—before touring nationally with Circuit Network.

Joshua Kohl, co-artistic director / composer Cofounder, music conductor, composer, and coartistic director of Degenerate Art Ensemble, Joshua Kohl has created original works for dance, silent film, concert ensembles, “classico-punk-big band” shows, and street performances and has collaborated extensively on the creation of invented instruments used in DAE performances. Kohl has performed extensively throughout the U.S., as well as in the Netherlands, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Germany, with the support of Arts International Fund for U.S. Artists and the Mid-Atlantic States Foundation’s U.S. Artists International. In addition to his work with Degenerate Art Ensemble, Kohl has created scores for the San Francisco-based dance theater company inkBoat; for a commissioned performance of c(h)ord (2008) at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Tale of Two Cities (2007) and Night Flight (2007–2009) for Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theatre; as well as Twelfth Night (2007) and The Beard of Avon (2007) for Portland Center Stage. In spring 2011 Kohl will perform with Haruko Nishimura at the Center for Performance Research in New York City, and he will be in a residency with DAE at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center: A Laboratory for Performance, Long Island, New York.

Dohee Lee, Dancer/Musician/Vocalist A 2008-2009 Isadora Duncan Dance Award “Special Award”, is the founder of the groundbreaking PURI Project. Born out of her desire to create a new art form, in 2004 she founded the group, an innovative project in which the goal is to present elements of dance, music, play, visual art, and audience participation within the context of their performance. She studied Korean traditional dance and dumming music at the master level in Korea and she is also graduated from Tamalpa Institute in U.S.A. Since her arrival in the US, she has been a vital contributor to both the traditional and contemporary Asian American Cultural Arts landscape of America and international. Her many accomplishments from the past few years including being the resident artist and instructor of the Koran youth cultural center and Oakland Asian Cutural Center community –based organizations focused on Korean and Asian arts. She has performed in various ethnic dance festivals, including the Asian American Dance Performance and the Asian American Jazz Festival in San-Francisco and Chicago. Since 2001, she has worked on project with leader of American Creative Arts scene, including dancer/choreographer Sue Li Jue’s Facing East Dance and Music, Modern dance company Kunst-Soff as a composer and performer, Butoh dancer/choreographer Shinichi Iova Koga’s Inkboat, Saxophoinst/composer Francis Wong, Pianist Jon Jang, Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki, Cellist Joan Jearnrenaud, Okkyung Lee, Theresa Wong and Saxophonist/composer Lawrence Orhs and Scott Amendala. She also has collaborated on new work with Nanos Operetta, the Kronos Quartet and Choreographer/dancer Anna Halprin. She presented world Premier production “FLUX” at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 2008 and Perspectives of Kronos Quartet series at New York Carnegie Hall, Zankel hall in 2010. She has toured in Europe such as Asian American Jazz Fesitival in Poland and Experimental music festival in Italy, Russia, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Czecho Repulblic, China, Japan, Korea and Croatia with various musicians since 2005.

Jherek Bischoff, composer, musician and producer Jherek Bischoff has, for the last several years, built a staggeringly prolific reputation both nationally and internationally as one of Seattle’s most indispensable and talented musical artists. He has been a full-time member of The Dead Science since its inception, served a long tenure as bassist and composer for local experimental musician talent factory Degenerate Art Ensemble, toured in Xiu Xiu and Carla Bozulich’s Evangelista, and consistently worked as a player, producer and arranger for Jason Webley, Parenthetical Girls, and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. His efforts have led to many unique and wildly varied opportunities in his musical life, including numerous grants and residencies, composing for a 45 piece ensemble as part of the Degenerate Art Orchestra concert at the Moore Theater, opening for the Foo Fighters in Hollywood, composing epic video game music, and embarking on countless tours across North America, Europe, and Australia. Ribbons is Bischoff’s own project, its debut titled “Royals” – a massively ambitious, years-in-the-making album of meticulously arranged and multi-tracked orchestral music. Featuring a host of Seattle’s greatest musicians (as well as avant ringers like Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier and violinist Carla Kihlstedt), the record spotlights different guest vocalists on each track–an extremely diverse lineup that includes the likes of David Byrne, Mirah, Carla Bozulich, Craig Wedren, and many others.

Leo Mayberry, video artist Leo Mayberry has been composing and performing live video for the last eleven years, having transitioned from traditional editing to live mixing and improvisation in 2000. He has served as video coordinator for Seattle’s annual Decibel Festival and each year performs alongside the festival’s international talent in the Optical and Ambient/Experimental showcases. Having interacted with live dance in venues such as Seattle’s Consolidated Works, Mayberry received the opportunity to build more immersive multimedia environments with Seattle-based interdisciplinary performance group Manifold Motion. Degenerate Art Ensemble enlisted Mayberry to retool their production of Cuckoo Crow for Los Angeles’ REDCAT Theater in 2007. Since then he has been a regular collaborator, creating new works for DAE’s Sonic Tales (2009), including a video-targeting system that pinpointed and cued projections on performers in motion. In the “Topsy Turvy” scene, he used the costumed bodies of two dancers to summon a multitude of different characters, projecting singing heads under dancers’ skirts and guitar-strumming ninjas on their backs. Mayberry’s work enables DAE to summon demons and doppelgangers, set forests on fire, and melt stars into soft rain.

Jason Puccinelli, scenic designer Jason Puccinelli studied fine art at the San Francisco Academy of Art and Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute and worked in San Francisco for fifteen years as an art director and production designer in the motion-picture industry, including with the world-renowned visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic. For the last ten years Puccinelli has used his skills in movie-set design to create art installations, challenging viewers’ perceptions as they experience unexpected scenes in familiar surroundings: examples include a full-size, “crashed” rocket in a public park (Rocket, 2010) and a series of empty stage sets—a stock exchange floor, a slaughterhouse, and an iceberg with a baby seal (Dazzle Camouflage, 2003). His collaborations with the artistic trio PDL further this nontraditional approach to contemporary art, with such works as a clinically white, portable confessional booth (Portable Confessional Units, 2007) and a 1,200-pound Japanese sloth zoo habitat in an abandoned storefront window (The Zoo to You Foundation, 2008). Commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum to reimagine its grand staircase, Puccinelli created a permanent installation, The Art Ladder, which features larger-than-life murals (2007). He has also designed costumes and props for the San Francisco Opera, Seattle Repertory Theater, and Teatro Zinzanni, as well as for many filmmakers and photographers in Seattle.

Ian Lucero, videographer Filmmaker Ian Lucero has been making films and documenting artists, dancers, and musicians for thirteen years. He has filmed Degenerate Art Ensemble’s live performances, rehearsals, and tours since 1999 and also played saxophone with DAE’s earlier incarnation, the Young Composers Collective. Lucero has created short films for Bellevue Arts Museum, Portland Open Studios, and artists Susie J. Lee, Etsuko Ichikawa, and Helen Hiebert, and he continues to produce videos for Seattle Theatre Group, the nonprofit organization that operates Seattle’s Moore and Paramount Theaters. Lucero codirected, filmed, sound designed, and edited the experimental short film The Silvering Path (2008), starring dancer Haruko Nishimura and showcasing the costumes of fiber artist Mandy Greer. He recently did editing and sound design on the Seattle-made feature film William Never Married (2010), which premiered and won best cinematography at the Downtown Film Fest Los Angeles. Currently based in Portland, Ore., Lucero, along with fellow filmmakers, Seattle-based Ryan K. Adams and New York-based Paul Hawxhurst, started the production company Block My Eye Films in 2010, offering full production and post-production services.

Images from the Open Rehearsal