After an extensive international tour, the acclaimed Sidra Bell Dance New York Company returns to Brooklyn for the world premiere of PRELUDE | IDENTITY, a mixed-media dance performance, on Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22, at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center in Dumbo.

Founded in 2001 by New York dancer and choreographer Sidra Bell, the Brooklyn-based company has become known for works that explore the complexities of the human condition through a strong female lens with unconventional, elegant, sensual and highly physical performances presented by larger than life characters.

While PRELUDE | IDENTITY is a continuation of Bell’s very personal canon of work that traces the evolution of her womanhood, this time she is sharing some quieter, more tender and introspective moments in her newest work.

“PRELUDE/ IDENTITY is about being on the cusp of the transition from one life phase into the next and those intimate, introspective questions that arise during that moment,” Bell said. “It’s the transition from a youthful abandon to a nurturing, caring role in life as we grow older.”

Bell describes the performance as a very personal, long-form poem about identity, intimacy, relationships with other’s and oneself while navigating the narcissism and noise of today’s society. 

Photo credit: Kitoko Chargois for Sidra Bell Dance New York

The dancers express this dichotomy through their quiet movements, which, at times, culminate in sheer stillness, as it can be seen when one dancer is holding the other, tenderly rocking and cradling his partner. Bell incorporates sound, virtual reality and 3D elements in video installations and on the dancers’ garments to further reveal those conflicting emotions and thoughts. 

“PRELUDE / IDENTITY is a presentation of the tension and release, the frictions that transitions bring,” Bell said. “I feel like I’m finally stepping into my identity. I’m on a threshold of going into another phase of my life while exploring how to assert my womanhood and what it means.”

Bell and her ensemble have been working on this performance for the last ninth months while touring around the country and overseas. Collaborations with dance companies and programs at Harvard University, The Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, Alonzo King LINES Training Program, University of the Arts Philadelphia, among others, have contributed to the creation of the piece.

The work, Bell said, while very personal for her, is the result of a communal creative process that also provided room for the voices of her cast members which include Sebastian Abarbanell, Alonzo Blanco, Marisa Christogeorge, Drew Lewis, Misa Kinno Lucyshyn and Sophia Halimah Parker. She now looks forward to premiering PRELUDE | IDENTITY in front of her home audience in Brooklyn.

“I have always felt a kinship with Brooklyn,” Bell said. “It’s magical here. Obviously, the arts community is so strong here. And Dumbo, the Dumbo Dance Festival, was one of the first places I presented my work. So we just really wanted to engage with this community again, and the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center is such an amazing space.”

Sidra Bell Dance New York presents: PRELUDE | IDENTITY 

When: Friday June 21, 8:00pm | Saturday, June 22, 3:00pm and  8:00pm

Where: Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center, 29 Jay St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

How much: $25.00 (students and seniors: $15.00; 20 percent off for groups of four). For tickets, go here.

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