Yanira Castro

Yanira Castro is a Puerto Rican interdisciplinary artist living in Lenapehoking (Brooklyn, NY). Since 2009, she has made performances, installations and online archives with a team of collaborators under the moniker, a canary torsi. Her work is rooted in communal construction as a practice of radical democracy and invites the public into co-creation. Having built dances for twenty years, she now works in social practice and installation grounded in performance. Castro has received two Bessie Awards for Outstanding Production and a NYFA Choreography Fellowship as well as various commissions, residencies and national project grant awards. She is one of the co-authors of “Creating New Futures’ Phase 1: Working Guidelines for Ethics & Equity in Presenting Dance & Performance,” and “Phase 2: Notes on Equitable Funding from Arts Workers.” Both are collectively-written documents drafted as calls-to-action to address deep-rooted inequities in the performance field. View Castro’s full bio at acanarytorsi.org

Visiting Artist | 2021 - 2022

Archive Residency 2021-2022

Puerto-Rico/Brooklyn-based artist Yanira Castro is currently engaged in MANCC’s second archive residency (a pilot program begun in 2020-2021 with the first artist, Emily Johnson) and is joined by New York-based artist, archivist, and curator Cori Olinghouse, San Juan-based artist, scholar, writer/editor nibia pastrana santiago, Chicago-based Gibran Villalobos working at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the School of the Art Institute, and New York-based playwright and writer, Ana Candida Carneiro. Castro has been to MANCC five times since her first residency at MANCC in 2007 in support of Center of Sleep, with two further residencies in support of People to Come and Court/Garden each. Castro and her collaborators will be working with MANCC’s Media Specialist Chris Cameron to sort through the considerable materials collected over the five residencies, including video, photography, interviews, ephemera, and other documentation of her creative processes.

Castro and her collaborators enter this residency with a series of questions, about the nature of an archive in its degree of public availability, who tends to an archive and how can it become more civically cared for, how are archives cared for in institutions in contrast to private archives, what does the intentional destruction or decay of an archive mean, and how can methods of collecting and maintaining information be decolonized. Castro is working closely with her collaborators, both individually and collectively, to build this polyvocal, interdisciplinary research project around her materials.

Thus far, Castro and her collaborators have begun a line of inquiry around the speculative archive as an interactive time capsule. In her in-person meetings with Villalobos and Carneiro in spring 2022, Castro, with Carniero and Villalobos, have begun to form an analog method of engaging with the archive based on chance and refusal – roll the dice once and receive a randomized piece of text, video, image, or audio – and the viewer can have the choice to ignore the archival offering and re-roll, or continue to engage with the section of the work presented, offering a method of viewing the archive that allows for a personalization of the experience based on interest.

Another branch of this speculative archive seeks to expand the documentation already present at MANCC by adding cultural context around the work documented, with the intention of situating the work in the sociopolitical climate in which it was built, instead of as a disparate art event unconnected to the times. For example, during Castro’s development of Center of Sleep, during which time Castro came to MANCC for a February 2007 residency, the February 3rd Baghdad Market Bombing occurred, and the first iPhone hit store shelves in the same year.

In a future iteration of the archive’s development, Castro and her collaborators are looking to create a user-responsive design that allows a viewer of the archive to access this process virtually, and to submit contextual material that grounds Castro’s creative work relative to the viewer’s experience of the time in which it was created.

Next, Castro will meet with santiago in Puerto Rico this summer 2022 and Olinghouse in the United States in fall 2022 to continue to review, question and expand their relationship with the archive (here at MANCC and beyond) in exploration of this ongoing work. 

This project description will be periodically updated with research and activities as Castro and her collaborators continue their investigative work.

This Archive Residency program is made possible with support from the Mellon Foundation.
 

   

  • From top left to bottom: Carla Peterson, Chris Cameron, Scott Lindenberg, Ana Carneiro, Ansje Burdick,<br>Cori Olinghouse, Yanira Castro, Gibran Villalobos, Ariel Lembeck, and nibia pastrano Santiago
Collaborators in Residence: Cori Olinghouse [Archivist], nibia pastrana Santiago [Writer/Scholar], Gibran Villalobos [Curator], Ana Candida Carneiro [Playwright/Writer]

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 its 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 returned the following 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 was at The Invisible Dog Art Center in June 2013.

The residency was 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]

World Premiere

Ronald K. Brown

The Equality of Night
and Day (TEND)

June 29 - July 3
Jacob's Pillow Dance
Festival (MA)

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