Looking Through Trees - an evening of total theater, by Chris Chalfant, Sept. 17-18 at Irondale Center, Brooklyn


Sep 17 2010 - 8:00pm

Looking Through Trees, Irondale Center, 85 S. Oxford St at Lafayette www.irondale.org. Visit www.chrischalfant.com for discount code. Chris Chalfant, composer, producer, director with Meg Brooker, dance, Michael-David Gordon, acting, Joe Giardullo, soprano saxophone, Ken Yamazaki, percussion, Tim Cryan, lighting design, Al Margolis sounds and sampling.

Come sit down with us to witness an evening of total theater. Chris Chalfant’s opera without the opera singer combines the forces of dance, acting, music, sound and lighting design with a full cast of incredibly talented and unique artists in their own right. Their creative expertise and insight will amplify the concept of Looking Through Trees, which is composed, produced and directed by Chalfant. Chalfant brings together works dating back to the 80’s through this year to tell this tale of a Monk, his cat, and his search for peace.

This accessible and yet provocative show is a total sensorial experience that will leave you with memories of sights and sounds that will last long after the last note is “sung”. It will bring you on a journey of a full range of emotions, give you time to pause, and throw you into a fast-paced tizzy with laughter, awe and amazement. You will want to dance in your seat. You will be captivated by a world of mystery, strangeness, beauty, and lyricism. Looking Through Trees, a highly structured, yet improvisational piece is an experience that will give the performers and audience-alike a unique sensorial experience unlike any one has witnessed before.

Chalfant combines her unique blend of sonorities ranging from the ancient traditions of Africa, India, from the Eastern spiritual traditions, to the most far-reaching composers in the classical and jazz idioms.

The original Looking Through Trees paper collage, created in 2008 based on the memory of her peaceful feeling while looking up through the trees in the summer will be displayed in the gallery in the balcony of Irondale Center along with Sabine Bodemann’s earth pieces and other artists' rendition of their interpretation of nature.

Chris Chalfant has been developing the concept of “polycyclic collage” for many decades. This production of LTT is yet another dimension in which the concept continues to manifest. It is a blending and acceptance of all rhythms and of all cycles, harmonizing and being open to other rhythms and energies that we may not understand. It is about connecting through our common ancestry - nature. Chris Chalfant’s ongoing curiosity for the “different” has led her down many paths, through many cultures, mediums, genres and their links throughout global history. While in music school studying classical piano at Kent State, Chalfant also took a class in African Music and Dance with Halim El Dabh where she learned how to feel polyrhythm. This has become a key element in her work.


In 1983 Chris Chalfant went on to study Eurhythmics at Longy School and received her MM at New England Conservatory in 1988 where she studied with George Russell. Dreams and Nightmares for solo piano, and Mulasto for chamber-jazz ensemble were her first classical/jazz pieces composed during the same period. Chalfant also studied Senegalese, Hungarian and Scottish dance, played for ballet and Graham classes, modeled for art classes and studied Japanese culture. She went on to New York in 1993 to delve into the “out” jazz scene and to practice Aikido and Buddhism with Sensei Joseph Jarman. Chalfant later performed and recorded with him for many years. She has many recordings as leader, and over 500 compositions. A quarter of them are in Book of Unstandards. She is also in Notations21, Silent Solos - Improvisers Speak, and Maximillian de Lafayette’s Encyclopedia of the 21st Century. Chalfant grew up doing musical theater, played Regina in Ghosts with Theater S. and spent many years in the 80’s and early 90’s doing performance art and “sound-movement-poetry”. She has produced many festivals, concerts and special events over a thirty-year span.


Michael David Gordon has been a member of the Irondale Ensemble Project for 18 years. His roles have included Barrachio in Much Ado About Nothing, The Stage Manager in Our Town, and most recently, Sam Slate in Irondale Ensemble Project’s Wasted! Gordon is also in demand as a rhythm and blues singer and voice-over. www.irondale.org


Meg Brooker’s performance background ranges from Isadora Duncan dance (Lori Belilove & Company) to avant-garde theatre. Credits include Austin, New York, Moscow, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Sevastopol. Meg specializes in and blogs about early modern dance history and techniques (www.mb-arts.com/http://tunicsintexas.blogspot.com).


Tim Cryan, lighting designer has had the opportunity to collaborate with a variety of artists including: Paul Bargetto, Diamanda Galas, Fiasco Theatre Company  & The Nature Theatre of Oklahoma. He is a nominee for the 2010 New York Innovative Theatre Award in Lighting Design for his work with director Erwin Maas on Alex Van Warmerdam’s“Welkom in het Bos”. http://timcryan.net


Al Margolis has been active under the name If, Bwana since 1984, making music that has swung between fairly spontaneous studio constructions and more process-oriented composition. He is co-founder of experimental music label Pogus, which he continues to run. www.pogus.com


Joe Giardullo is known as a composer and soprano saxophonist in avant jazz and new music. He developed his Gravity compositions in the 90’s and has studied Indian music and the Lydian Chromatic Concept. He has toured internationally, working with Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell and Steve Lacy. In 1979 he received an NEA grant.

Ken Yamazaki, percussionist and composer, has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, including Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art.  Collaborators include Steve Coleman, Thulani Davis, Joseph Jarman, Ken McIntyre, John Medeski, Elliot Sharpe and Reggie Workman.


Acknowledgements - This project is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council, Inc. (BAC). Portions of this piece were rehearsed at Mark Morris Dance Center as part of a grant from NYSCA. Portions of this piece were developed at Noyes School of Rhythm, Portland, CT.