Yanira Castro

Yanira Castro is a Brooklyn-based director/choreographer from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since 2009, she has collaborated with a core group of performers and designers on individual projects under the name, a canary torsi. She and her collaborators work in a multiplicity of spaces: from warehouses, restrooms, and gardens to the stage, embedding dances within visual and audio installations where the audience’s presence dramatically impacts the work.

Since 2002, she has created nine evening-length works for which she has received one BESSIE award and nomination: the award in 2009 for Dark Horse/Black Forest presented by Performance Space 122 in the lobby restroom of The Gershwin Hotel, and a nomination for a participatory multi-media performance installation, The People to Come, at The Invisible Dog Art Center in 2013. The archive for The People to Come (thepeopletocome.org) was featured in The New Museum’s exhibit, “Performance Archiving Performance,” in 2013. Castro’s work has been presented in New York by New York Live Arts/Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, PS122, ISSUE Project Room, The Invisible Dog Art Center, The Chocolate Factory, The BEAT Festival and The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), among others, and has toured nationally and internationally. She has also been commissioned to create new works at Barnard College (NYC), The Wooden Floor (CA) and Island Moving Company (RI).

Most recently, Castro is a Returning Choreographic Fellow at Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography and Artist-in-Residence at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Process Space program. She was a 2012 Vermont Performance Lab Artist and a 2010 Alpert Award nominee. Other fellowships include: Dance New Amsterdam (2013, NYC), LMCC Swing Space (2012, 2010, NYC), ARC (2009/2008, NYC), Artist Ne(s)t (2007, Romania), Sugar Salon (2007, NYC), and Rockefeller Foundation (2006, Bellagio, Italy). She has been recognized with various awards for her work, including The New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project Production Award and NEFA’s Expeditions touring program, The MAP Fund, The Jerome Foundation, NYFA’s BUILD, NYSCA, New Music USA’s Live Music for Dance, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and USArtists International. Castro received her B.A. in Theater & Dance and Literature from Amherst College. www.acanarytorsi.org

Returning Choreographic Fellow | May 30 - June 11, 2014

Court/Garden 2014

Castro’s second residency for Court/Garden focused on creating a new dance practice for the third act of the piece. Where the first act focused it’s movement vocabulary on the Canary, a 17th Century court dance, the third act looks at the rhythms and patterning that emerges from the group. 
 Castro sought a communal dance, a dance that is shared and passed on between the performers and held by the audience.  To that end, Castro worked with improvisational techniques to foster the development of a new way of working for herself and her collaborators.

While in residence, Castro met with two scholars from FSU’s School of Communication, Dr. Patrick Merle and Dr. Jennifer Proffitt.  Castro’s discussion with Merle offered insight into the ways America differs from other countries in the realm of politics and media.  Castro’s meeting with Dr. Proffitt centered around engaging audiences.  Proffitt's research focus is television and radio, which offered useful insights on the ways that viewership is changing for contemporary audiences.

Castro held a work-in-progress showing at the end of the residency to explore how the audience might engage with the work.  The work was performed with the audience standing in a circle around the performance space, challenging the more traditional proscenium stage.  The showing was followed by a feedback session with Castro and collaborators.

This Returning Choreographic Fellow residency was made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • Pamela Vail
  • Luke Miller
  • Luke Miller
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • Yanira Castro
  • Kimberly Young and Luke Miller
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • Pamela Vail and Luke Miller
  • Castro discusses <i>Court/Garden</i> with collaborators
  • Designer Kathy Couch
  • Castro talks with FSU School of Communication Assistant Professor Dr. Patrick Merle
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> work-in-progress showing
  • Yanira Castro leads post showing feedback session
Collaborators in Residence: Kathy Couch [designer], Simon Courchel, Luke Miller, Darrin M. Wright, Tess Dworman, Pamela Vail, Kimberly Young [performers]. Slideshow photos by Al Hall and Chris Cameron.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | Oct. 6-16, 2013

Court/Garden 2013

Yanira Castro returned to MANCC for the first of two residencies to develop Court/Garden, a dance for her company, a canary torsi. Court/Garden investigates the experiential shifts in an audience’s engagement with a dance through proximity, frame, participation. It takes as inspiration the participatory spectacles of the French Court, the spectatorship of the proscenium stage, and the presentation of live video feeds as frames in which to experience dance. The dance plays with a strict formalism inside a structure in which the audience’s relationship to the event is in constant flux. Through choreographer Yanira Castro’s contemporary lens, a canary torsi looks at theatrical conventions—the overture, the intermission, the close-up shot—to consider their role in the experience of a contemporary audience.

Castro’s fall residency focused on developing the movement vocabulary for the piece. The choreography for Court/Garden utilizes the steps of a popular 17th Century court dance, the Canary, as a system through which to create these experiences. At the time, the Canary was considered to be “bold, bizarre and exotic.” The steps consist of a skip and a stomp with the alteration of the heel and sole in the stomp. Castro and the performers utilized this dance as a system to structure their choreography through repetition, complex patterning and looping—while maintaining the Canary’s strict symmetry. Through prolonged and oddly placed silences, lighting that reveals the actions of the audience, and a subtly changing code of audience rules (when to stand, sit, speak) that the audience is guided through, Court/Garden is a dissection of theatrical traditions and their role in shaping our experience.

Near the end of the residency, Castro shared material at an informal showing before a large audience drawn from community members and students and faculty from Dance, Music and Theater.  During the showing Castro experimented with audience placement and juxtaposing previously filmed backstage material with the live performance.  Castro will return this summer to focus more on audience spaces, experience and involvement.

The residency was made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Yanira Castro in rehearsal for <i>Court/Garden</i>
  • Luke Miller and Darrin Wright rehearse <i>Court/Garden</i> movement.
  • Castro notates <i>Court/Garden</i> movement as Kimberly Young watches.
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> rehearsal.
  • Kimberly Young and Pamela Vail explore traditional court dance movement.
  • Simon Courchel and Tess Dworman explore movements inspired by the Canary.
  • Castro and collaborators discuss performance space with FSU Art Historian Dr. Robert Neuman.
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> informal showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> informal showing
  • Tess Dworman in <i>Court/Garden</i> informal showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> informal showing
  • <i>Court/Garden</i> performers expose pre-performance moments to be incorporated into the work.
  • Castro's collaborators enact pre-performance rituals for <i>Court/Garden</i>
  • FSU faculty Dan Wagoner and student Lucy Escher look on as Castro and Wright perform.
  • Castro poses questions about <i>Court/Garden</i> for the informal showing audience to consider.
  • FSU School of Music student Amy Dunning responds to Castro's questions about <i>Court/Garden</i>
Collaborators in Residence: Simon Courchel, Luke Miller, Darrin M. Wright, Tess Dworman, Pamela Vail, Kimberly Young [performers]. Slideshow photos by Simon Courchel, Al Hall and Chris Cameron.

Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 31 - February 6, 2013

The People to Come 2013

The People to Come is a participatory performance installation conceived and directed by Castro in collaboration with Lighting and Installation Designer Kathy Couch, Web Director Sam Lerner, Sound Artist Stephan Moore, and five performers. The work initiates from a solo choreographed by Castro, which is radically altered each night by the performers from material created by the communities surrounding the performance site and the audience attending the performances.

The People to Come website, which was developed in part during a previous MANCC residency, invites audiences to submit images, videos, and/or text as an entry into the performance.  The performance is influenced by audience contributions hosted on the site.  Ultimately, the site also serves as the archival repository for material contributed to the project by audience and community members, musical scores, and dances created in response to the material.

During her second residency for the work, Castro revisited the piece with particular focus on constructing and realizing performance strategies with the performers.  Having already performed the piece at three different venues, this residency provided the group an opportunity to delve into what had been learned from performing the work and deepen their process.  To facilitate this development, Castro opened two rehearsals for local audiences to provide feedback.  Prior to attending one of the open rehearsals the School of Dance’s MANCC Experience class contributed submissions to The People to Come website, allowing them to participate in the making of the work.  The second open rehearsal was attended by FSU scholars from the religion, theatre and dance departments. Both groups engaged in dialogue with Castro and her performers after the rehearsal session to provide feedback.
The NY Premiere of The People to Come will be at The Invisible Dog Art Center in June 2013.

The residency is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Castro talks with collaborators about <em>The People to Come</em>.
  • Peter Musante rehearses with Peter Schmitz and Simon Courchel in the background.
  • Simon Courchel
  • Darrin Wright
  • FSU Faculty from Theatre, Religion and Dance observe rehearsal.
  • Peter Musante
  • Luke Miller
  • Darrin Wright
  • Castro and collaborators discuss <em>The People to Come</em>.
  • Courchel performs while FSU dance students and FSU faculty, Alex Ketley and Jawole Zollar, observe.
  • MANCC Class students participate in <em>The People to Come</em> rehearsal.
  • Courchel performs for MANCC Class students.
  • Peter Schmitz engages MANCC Class students.
  • MANCC Class student, Thryn Saxon, responds to <em>The People to Come</em> rehearsal.
  • Darrin Wright performs for the MANCC Class.
  • Darrin Wright
Collaborators in Residence: Simon Courchel, Luke Miller, Peter Musante, Peter B. Schmitz, and Darrin M. Wright [performers]. Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron.

Media Fellowship Project | May 21 - 27, 2012

The People to Come 2012

The People to Come is a new participatory performance installation conceived and directed by Castro in collaboration with Sound Installation Artist Stephan Moore, Lighting and Installation Designer Kathy Couch, and five male dancers. The work initiates from a solo choreographed by Castro, which is radically altered each night by the performers from material created by the communities surrounding the performance site and the audience attending the performances.

During her residency, Castro and her team of collaborators including Web Programmer Sam Lerner designed, tested, and refined the accompanying interactive website. The website hosts a series of questions or “proposals” that request photographs, drawings, videos, and/or text as a response for entry into the performance. Audience members are able to respond before coming to the performance by visiting the website or contributing live during the performance. Ultimately, the site will serve as the archival repository for material contributed to the project by audience and community members, musical scores, and dances created in response to the material.

The Media Fellowship Project is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

  • Yanira Castro explains <i>The People to Come</i> website.
  • Students contribute to website
  • Movement Research class create a submission for website
  • Designer Kathy Couch captures movement footage
  • Performer Luke Miller analyzes material submitted to <i>The People to Come</i> website
  • Miller transforms website submissions into movement
  • Miller reviews website submissions to develop movement vocabulary
  • Miller composes material from submissions to the website
  • Miller performs <i>The People to Come</i> material during Informal Showing
  • Miller performs material developed from submissions to <i>The People to Come</i> website
  • <i>The People to Come</i> Informal Showing
  • Miller performs in the Black Box Theater
  • Miller performs material generated for the Informal Showing
  • Miller performs material inspired by work submitted from Tallahassee community
  • Castro and collaborators engage audience in a post showing discussion

Collaborators in Residence: Luke Miller [performer], Kathy Couch [designer], Sam Lerner [web programmer] Slideshow Photos by Chris Cameron

Choreographic Fellow | February 7 – 25, 2007

Center of Sleep

Castro explored an idea she called innocent space through developing an audience environment for this dance installation . Inspired by the psychological and biological connections between sleep, gestation and metamorphosis, the piece sought to explore the process of radical transformation with sleep as an enclosed neurological activity that resembles, in state, a cocoon, and adolescence as a period of metamorphosis.  Castro worked with the community in the development of the audience experience for Center of Sleep, attempting a space without predictable boundaries between audience and performer. Castro also facilitated a roundtable with FSU professors who were engaged in research around gestation and puberty to further inform the work.    

During her residency Castro hosted a symposium and showing with FSU Professors Dr. Curtis Altman, Joelle Dietrick, Dr. Jamila Horabin and Terri Lindbloom. 

Center of Sleep premiered February 27 - March 1, 2008 at Dance Theater Workshop.

Collaborators in Residence: Stephan Moore [composer], Peggy Cheng, Luke Miller, Heather Olson, Joseph Poulson [dancers]

Featured Artist

Monica Bill Barnes

"Three Acts,
Two Dancers,
One Radio Host"
November 1 & 2
Washington Univ.,
Edison Theater, (MO)

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