Movement Research Festival – Danspace Project


Movement Research Festival 2024
Practices of Embodied Solidarity in Movement(s)
Curated by Marýa Wethers

Thursday, March 7 | 7:30PM

Friday, March 8 | 7:30PM
Sahar Damoni
Eat Banana and Drink Pills

Saturday, March 9 | 7:30PM
Charlie Prince
Cosmic A*
Stage Manager: Portia Wells
Lighting Designer: Joe Levasseur
The 2024 Movement Research Festival is curated by Marýa Wethers, Director of the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program at Movement Research, with a focus on the artists and partnerships developed through the GPS MENA (Middle East & North Africa) Exchange program. MR Festival events, happening from February 28 – March 9, 2024, include artist talks (GPS Chats and Studies Project), movement workshops, and performances at Movement Research at the Judson Church. The festival concludes with performances at Danspace Project, for the first time since 2019!

The 2024 Festival presents an exciting lineup of extraordinary and dynamic contemporary dance artists from the MENA/SWANA region. Featured artists include Salma AbdelSalam (Egypt), Sahar Damoni (Palestine), Lori Kharpoutlian (Lebanon), Charlie Prince (Lebanon), F.M. Sayna (Iran), and Noura Seif Hassanein (Egypt). These remarkable artists are shedding light on important issues of global significance, from abortion and women’s rights to exploring forced displacement, the body as archeological space, and the politics of waiting. Occurring simultaneous to the genocide of Palestinians under ongoing occupation, the 2024 Festival uplifts the creative practices and artistic work of this cohort of dance artists as a necessary and felicitous expression of the complex and contradictory realities of our lives and times.

While we continue to mourn the devastating individual and collective losses caused by the brutality, violence, and terror of ongoing occupation, mass displacement, genocides, and war, we can turn to art and performance to reflect some truths of our shared humanity. The 2024 MR Festival artists have a deep commitment to embodied research and critical inquiry of the role of the moving body in society. It is a profound privilege to bring the work of Charlie, Lori, Noura, Sahar, Salma, and F.M. Sayna to NYC, and to invite audiences to witness and experience the vitality of their ideas, words/voices, and performances through the GPS MENA Exchange program and the Movement Research Festival platform.

 -Marýa Wethers, Festival Curator
Nasa4nasa, two Egyptian performers at Movement Research at the Judson Church. They both wear matching purple tops and black bottoms.
Photo: Rachel Keane.
Thursday, March 7
nasa4nasa (Egypt)
Choreography: nasa4nasa
Performance: nasa4nasa
Music: Playlist with original track by Ismail Hosny
Costumes: Nadinemos

Special thanks: AFAC fund

NO MERCY by nasa4nasa navigates their daily virtual and non-virtual modes of feelings. During this 45-minute DJ set, nasa4nasa explores the limits of sensuality and desire and its interplay with violence. The two female bodies navigate the gaze, referencing their repertoires of body image, pop, rage and intimacy. nasa4nasa will lure you in, disarm you and in the process unravel in their own drama.
Sahar Damoni lies on the hardwood floor at the Judson Memorial church. She wears a red dress and has her legs up in the air while one hand reaches in between and the other on her thigh. Her eyes are closed.
Photo: Ian Douglas.
Friday, March 8
SAHAR DAMONI (Palestine)
Eat Banana and Drink Pills
Choreography and Performance: Sahar Damoni
Artistic Accompaniment and Dramaturgy: Nitzan Cohen
Artistic Advisor: Sarah Holcman  
Original Music and Editing: Akram Haddad
Original Lighting Design: Rotem Elroy
International Communications & Development: Katherina Vasiliadis

Thanks to: Marýa Wethers, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Bryanna Bradley, Guy Hugler, Frida Daniely, Jonathan Hollins, Lishay Shechter, Aziza Diab, Rula Nusier, Ibtisam Ammouri, Jumana Bishouty, Mohamad Salim, Ayman Daw, Maisa Abd Elhadi.

Supported by the GPS/Global Practice Sharing MENA Exchange Program of Movement Research with funding from the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund. This production was made possible through a grant from Culture Resource, Goethe-Institute/Morocco within the project “Uncontrolled Gestures'', Yasmeen Godder Studio; Studio Mandel/Yafo; Choreographers’ Circle at Suzanne Dellal Centre, the Pais Lottery Foundation and Independent Creators Foundation, and Shefa-Amer Community Centre.

Eat Banana and Drink Pills is a contemporary dance performance about abortion among single Arab Palestinian women. The work focuses on the physical and emotional experience, and the social dimensions for this experience. The work analyzes ramifications of this choice and the stigma, trauma, and social violence it carries.
"The traumatic moment engraved in the psyche is translated into an uninhibited immersion of the choreographer in the body, in a way that merges the past with the present into an unfiltered "now," and only at the end does the understanding sharpen that this shared and exposed time with the audience holds the possibility of healing." (Idit Suslik, Writer, The Contemporary Eye)
Duration: 50 minutes
Dancer wearing black pants and shoes in various movement positions. The photos are in black and white.
Photo: Sebastian Bauer.
Saturday, March 9
Cosmic A*
Concept & Performance: Charlie Prince
Music: Charlie Prince with samples and recordings from the voice of Mouneer Saeed, and the percussion of Joss Turnbull
Dramaturgy: Erin Hill
Original Light Design: Manon Bongeot

Coproduced by: Charleroi Danse (BE) Rencontres Chorégraphiques Internationale Seine-Saint-Denis (FR) VIADANSE Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté à Belfort (FR), Omar Rajeh - Maqamat (LB), Tanz! Heilbronn (DE)
Premiere date: May 28, 2021 @ SPRING Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands

Cosmic A* (2021), created and performed by Charlie Prince, is a 45 minute solo work that observes the body as an archaeological space, and engages this body in rituals of excavation - revealing new and unbound mythologies - allowing for a limitless agency of self-representation and rootedness. In this new version created for the MR Festival, Charlie reflects on the last three years, looking back and looking in as a transposition of the work for a different context and time period. Digging into his training as a musician, Charlie will bring elements of live sound he creates as the performer. Exploring his internal artistic update and projecting images of archival footage of Beirut.
The GPS/Global Practice Sharing program has received support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund. Artists Lori Kharpoutlian and Charlie Prince are participating in partnership with Yaraqa cultural organization in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Movement Research Festival is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). 

nasa4nasa is a dance collective based in Cairo co-founded by dancers Noura Seif Hassanein and Salma AbdelSalam in 2016. Housed primarily on Instagram, the collective’s work explores image-making and online presence as their ongoing dance practice. nasa4nasa’s debut performance SUASH premiered in Next Festival and MDT (2018), later performed in Maadi Sporting Club (2019), Impulstanz [8:tension] Young Choreographer Series (2019), and Festival de Marseille (2021). In February 2019, the duo performed their “End of Times” at Gypsum Gallery, later adapted for the Movement Research at the Judson Church series (2022). In addition, they exhibited a series of images “untitled” as part of the group exhibition “Codes of Coupling,” curated by Mahmoud Khaled (2019) at Gypsum Gallery. nasa4nasa participated in Gwangju Biennale’s Live Organs online commission with their work “Promises b2b” (2020). In 2021 they choreographed the playlist “Jete out of the Window” with the graduating students of the Place. Finally, in June 2022, nasa4nasa debuted “NO MERCY” in Rawabet Cairo, later performed as part of the D-CAF festival (2022), Zuricher Theater Spektakel (2023), Fondazione Fertinelli (2023). nasa4nasa is the recipient of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (2020), Mophradat’s Consortium Fund (2018), and a GPS/Global Practice Sharing residency at Movement Research (2022). They were most recently awarded the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for their latest work Sham3edan (2023)

Sahar Damoni is a Palestinian, Arab, Christian dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher from Shafa-amer in Galilee in the Middle East, whose body of work deals with the challenges she faces as a woman in an Arab and Palestinian society. Sahar holds a Bachelor of Dance and Movement for Practicing Teachers from Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and Arts. She danced with the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and participated in many more projects concerning dance, choreography, Dramaturgy and acting in theaters with Directors abroad before she began making her own work. Her work has been presented around the globe: Movement Research at the Judson Church (NYC), Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival, Internationale Solo-Tanz-Theater Festival Stuttgart, Echo Dance Festival of Northern Ireland, HANGARTFEST (Italy), Postsdame Tanztage (Germany), and Curtain Up, International Exposure and InitimaDance (Tel Aviv), among others. She has been invited to lecture about her work at Tel Aviv University, Sapir College, Kibbutzim College, Ben Gurion University, and University of the Arts, Philadelphia. In 2018, Sahar attended Ponderosa in Germany and participated in “Translucent Borders,” a project exploring ways that dancers and musicians act as catalysts for creative engagement across geographic, cultural, and economic borders, sponsored by New York University and Jacob’s Pillow. In 2019 Sahar was invited to participate in Un/Controlled Gestures, a seminar on dance and body politic, organized by the Goethe Institute, Morocco. She was invited by Movement Research, NYC, for a month-long residency and performance at Movement Research at the Judson Church as part of GPS/Global Practice Sharing. In 2020 Sahar performed in Virtual Performances including La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, SATURDAY MORNING LIVE – Dead End | Tehran/Ankara/Palestine; and Festival de Danza Contemporánea, Mexico City and was chosen to take part in the Dramaturgy Online Open Forumtook, Onassis Stegi Cultural Center. In 2021, Sahar was commissioned to create a Sadim for Staatstheater Kassel in Germany. She participated in the IIAC Residency and Moving Arts Lab, NYC, 2022. In 2023, Sahar was part of the Deeper Lectures series by Gibney Dance Center in NYC, and at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and at Tanzhaus nrw Düsseldorf, Germany to lectured about her work. Lately, Sahar had a residency for her new creation work at PACT Zollverein in Essen, Germany, South East Dance, UK and at Fabrik Potsdam, Germany. In February 2024 Sahar will premiere her new creation ‘’Nawa’’ at the Holland Dance Festival in Den Hague, in Dresden, Germany, and in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Charlie Prince (1991) is a Lebanese dance & performance artist. His interests are rooted in the intersection of the political and the poetic body, and the many profound resonances this may create. His trandisciplinary choreographic work and installations have been presented in several major festivals and theaters– including Impulstanz (AU), SPRING Festival (NL), Dansmakers Amsterdam (NL), Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis (FR), Vancouver International Dance Festival (CA), Oktoberdans (NO), Fabricca Europa (IT) and BIPOD (LB). Charlie holds a Bachelor of Music from McGill University in Montréal and continues to engage as a composer in his artistic practice. In 2018 he received the Boghossian Foundation Prize for Dance and Performance awarded by Villa Empain in Brussels and Beirut. He was also an apap 2020 artist supported by European Union Commision for Culture from 2017-2020.

Portia Wells (they/them) is a trans non-binary multidisciplinary artist based in Lenapehoking (NYC). They were born and raised on occupied lands and waters known as the Finger Lakes region of New York. Dance has been the central axis of their life, mobilizing their personal voice to communicate, explore, and research group dynamics, ephemerality (and otherwise), and socio-political experiences. Their work centers identity, intimacy, and performativity as informed by their lived queer and trans experience, collaborative processes, and queer theory. Their work spans choreography, curation, production and stage management, creative direction, writing, and visual art. They are a cofounder of FourAcres, a creative production company creating platforms and pathways to bring together skilled artists with global perspectives.

Marýa Wethers (she, her, hers) is a Creative Producer & Independent Curator and contemporary dancer based in Lenapehoking NYC since 1997. Marýa is currently the Director of the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program at Movement Research and Creative Producer for Edisa Weeks/DELIRIOUS Dances, OzuzuDances (Onye Ozuzu), and Rosy Simas Danse. She previously worked with Makini (jumatatu m. poe), Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light, nora chipaumire, Paloma McGregor/Angela’s Pulse, David Thomson, Olivier Tarpaga/Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project, and others. As the Director of the GPS/Global Practice Sharing program at Movement Research, Marýa supervises multiple exchange projects in the Eastern & Central Europe and Middle East & North Africa (MENA) regions as well as the regional network of partners throughout the Eastern/Central European region. From 2007-2014, she worked in the Programming Department at New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop/DTW) as the International Project Director of the Suitcase Fund program, where she created a cultural exchange program between contemporary dance artists in Africa and the U.S. Under her leadership, the three-year pilot program supported cultural exchange projects in nine countries in Africa and the Middle East (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar as well as Lebanon and Palestine). In addition, she managed the Suitcase Fund program activities and network of partners in the Eastern/Central Europe region. As a Curator, Marýa conceived and created the three-week performance series “Gathering Place: Black Queer Land(ing)” at Gibney Dance in 2018. She was a guest curator for the Watershed Lab residency at Mount Tremper Arts (2018 & 2019), Queer New York International Arts Festival (2016 & 2015 editions) launching a focus on African artists in the festival, and the Out of Space @ BRIC Studio series for Danspace Project (2003-2007) with a particular focus on work representing the perspectives and experiences of artists who are of color, queer, and/or female. Marýa is also a contemporary dancer and received a 2017 NY Dance & Performance (“Bessie”) Award for Outstanding Performance with the Skeleton Architecture collective. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a BA in Dance, minor in African-American Studies, 1997.
Danspace Project pays respect to Lenape peoples. We acknowledge that this work is situated on the Lenape island of Manhattan (Mannahatta) in Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland. We pay respect to Lenape land, water, and ancestors past, present and future.


Danspace Project presents new work in dance, supports a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work, encourages experimentation, and connects artists to audiences.

For almost 50 years, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States. Located in the historic St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, Danspace shares its facility with the Church, The Poetry Project, and New York Theatre Ballet. Danspace Project’s Commissioning Initiative has commissioned nearly 600 new works since its inception in 1994.

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