Returning Choreographic Fellow | January 24 - February 5, 2023
Returning Choreographic Fellow, Juliana May came back to MANCC this season after her 2018 residency for her previous work, Folk Incest, to further develop a new performance work entitled Family Happiness. Investigating Jewish aggression, unprocessed Jewish grief from the Holocaust, and current ramifications of those dynamics in Israel/Palestine, this piece continues May’s decade-long investigation into bodily control and the complicated system of victimhood and perpetration; prioritizing a space for culpability and catharsis.
May has long contended with the ways in which intergenerational Jewish trauma has played out in her upbringing, primarily through the lens of her maternal grandparents whose family members were imprisoned in concentration camps and subsequently fled Austria and Germany as teenagers to come to New York City.
While at MANCC, May further developed the ideas in the work, which she first began during the pandemic while in Tel Aviv. In addition to being a choreographer, May also includes a lot of text in her work and, with her collaborators, considered its integration along with set design, characters, settings, and the symbol of the beach as the image of fake Jewish utopic redemption, which becomes prominent in song lyrics that are sung throughout the show.
In addition to working with her dancers and composer, May also collaborated with Anh Vo, a Vietnamese choreographer, dancer, theorist and activist, who creates dances and produces texts about pornography and queer relations. Vo joined May for three days as part of MANCC’s Embedded Writer Program.
May’s residency culminated in an open rehearsal, conducted in Dr. Irvin Gonzalez’s Contemporary Perspectives class. Participating students experienced the work-in-progress demonstration of Family Happiness and students were invited to ask questions about the development process of the piece after the rehearsal.
Anh Vo’s participation is part of the Embedded Writer Program, which is funded, in part, by the Mellon Foundation.
Juliana F. May/MAYDANCE’s Family Happiness will be co-presented by Abrons Art Center and The Chocolate Factory Theater from May 3 to 6, and 10 to 13, 2023.