New York retains a remarkable cadre of composers... but chief among these is the singular figure of Paola Prestini.—Financial Times
[Jeffrey Zeigler plays with] fiery...unforced simplicity and beauty of tone. —The New York Times
A clear and extremely successful attempt at blowing the minds of adventurous music lovers.
—Strings Magazine of Houses of Zodiac
The spirited dancer Georgina Pazcoguin can blaze her way across a stage. —The New York Times
Humanity and the cosmos yearned to be aligned for a minute, one of those magic butoh moments in the house. —Los Angeles Times on Dai Matsuoka
[Eyuboglu’s work is] emotionally and intellectually rich. —Nature
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Houses of Zodiac brings word, movement, music, and image together to illuminate from within the verses of four poets: Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, Natasha Trethewey and Anaïs Nin. Former Kronos Quartet member Jeffrey Zeigler performs the music of Paola Prestini, to which New City Ballet soloist “Rogue Ballerina” Georgina Pazcoguin and Butoh dancer and Sankai Juku member Dai Matsuoka bring their own choreographies. The latency of the poems is refracted through music, dance, and in some instances archival images.These multiple perspectives are curated into a cinematic experience by Murat Eyuboglu while the composite work draws inspiration from sources as diverse as the choreography of Samuel Beckett, the conceptual art of Sol LeWitt, the natural world and more.
Created under the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions, Houses of Zodiac takes the form of a dialogue between the paradigmatically different traditions of butoh and ballet, presenting them first in their own spheres in Océano and Ophelia, then bringing them into conversation and counterpoint in the culminating Houses of Zodiac. Taking its cues from close readings of poetry, the choreography reflects on the themes of being, becoming, solitude, communion, and freedom.
Sketches on Love
Starting with its prelude, Eight Takes introduces the evening’s personae, taking its storytelling cue from Brenda Shaughnessy’s verses: “...isn’t love revision? / It could have gone so many ways / This is just one of the ways it went / Tell me another.” Fleeting scenes offer a window into Prestini’s creative process, while Dai Matsuoka and Georgina Pazcoguin get ready for performance. Jeffrey Zeigler’s performance is centrally featured, with camera angles punning on the idea of multiple takes. He is surrounded by Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawings 289 and 295, which later metamorphose into the cosmos through which the dancers drift.
A Pacific Ritual
Océano opens with the images of the Arctic and the Antarctic captured by the project’s friend Sylvestre Campe while Paola Prestini recites Neruda’s pithy verses. Performed on the Jogasaki Coast of Japan, Dai Matsuoka’s choreography responds to the music and the verses, while it also begins to reflect on the characters who inhabit the subsequent works.
A New Orleans Story
While Océano explores the theme of solitude and unboundedness, Ophelia presents a persona whose world is very much defined by boundaries and conflict.In her collection of poems Bellocq’s Ophelia, Natasha Trethewey endows her eponymous character with voice, basing her portrayal on a unique set of portraits captured by Ernest Bellocq in the red-light district of Storyville in early twentieth-century New Orleans. Her work is in part a palimpsest, specters of Shakespeare’s Ophelia, as well as that of John Everett Millais guiding her pen. The Ophelia of Prestini and Pazcoguin is the flesh and blood embodiment of Trethewey’s composite protagonist. Their music and choreography bring to life the arc of her complex journey as a young biracial woman from the brothels of New Orleans to one who claims agency and steps into her own life.
HOUSES OF ZODIAC
A Chimeric Journey
The final and the longest section of the evening Houses of Zodiac is inspired by Anaïs Nin’s 1936 prose poem House of Incest. Nin’s work is a sequence of surrealistic dreamscapes, opening with the depiction of a prenatal, waterborne experience. In the ensuing oneiric narrative, the lyric persona stumbles from room to room and house to house, as if to seek escape from a chimeric labyrinth. In the final paragraphs, the image of a tunnel with daylight at the end appears while a figure dances “with the rhythm of earth’s circles...dancing towards daylight.”
The choreography—featuring both Dai Matsuoka and Georgina Pazcoguin—explores aspects of Nin’s text while also reinterpreting the earlier pieces of the evening. The oceanic imagery depicted in Océano is recast through the prism of Nin’s text as a birth scene. The volcanic rocks and the Pacific sky of Océano give way to a galactic vault, which is a sublimated version of the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing 289. A transfigured Ophelia returns. As each other’s doubles, the two personae explore themes of creation, abjection, guilt, atonement and emancipation as their fantastical ark drifts through the houses of zodiac.
HOUSES OF ZODIAC | CONCEIVED & PRODUCED BY PAOLA PRESTINI, JEFFREY ZEIGLER, MURAT EYUBOGLU |CHOREOGRAPHED & PERFORMED BY GEORGINA PAZCOGUIN & DAI MATSUOKA | MUSIC BY PAOLA PRESTINI|PERFORMED BY JEFFREY ZEIGLER, CELLO | DIRECTOR & DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY MURAT EYUBOGLU|INTERLUDES PERFORMED BY TANYA TAGAQ, VOICE, NELS CLINE, GUITARS, DAVID COSSIN, PERCUSSION,CORNELIUS DUFALLO, VIOLIN, JEFFREY ZEIGLER, CELLO, JEAN SCHNEIDER, PIANO, PAOLA PRESTINI, BRENDA SHAUGHNESSEY, NATASHA TRETHEWEY, RECITATIONS | ALBUM PRODUCED, ENGINEERED & EDITED BY ADAM ABESHOUSE | TECHNICAL DIRECTION BY GARTH MACALEAVEY | LIGHTING DESIGN BRUCE STEINBERG |CAMERA CREW, NEW YORK AARON CRAIG & MURAT EYUBOGLU | CAMERA CREW, TOKYO TAKUYA ISOMURA & MASABUMI KIMURA | PHOTOGRAPHY JILL STEINBERG | COSTUME DESIGN CHIAKI NISHIKAWA | MAKEUP ARTIST KATSUHIKO KUWAMOTO | JURI AKIYAMA TRANSLATION | THIAGO MOTA EDITOR & VFX ARTIST | DAVID SARNO SENIOR EDITOR | MIKE FLORIO, SENIOR VFX ARTIST | DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE COLORIST GAVIN ROSENBERG | RIGHTS & CLEARANCES BY SUE SINCLAIR, SINCLAIR LLEWELYN LLC | COMMISSIONED BY JILL STEINBERG and the Broad museum | Developed at Mass moca | ADDITIONAL SUPPORT BY SUNDANCE INSTITUTE’S INTERDISCIPLINARY PROGRAM (IDP) | A CO-PRODUCTION OF VISIONINTOART & THE COLORADO, LLC | CREATED IN PART AT MASS MOCA | © MMXXII