Kyle Abraham is on the short list of must-see choreographers, and this weekend, his “Live! The Realest MC” runs Dec. 8-10 at the Kitchen. Abraham relishes working within the idiom of African-American culture and over the years has put a very unique spin on how he presents his ideas through dance.
For “Live!” he was inspired “by Pinocchio’s plight to be a ‘real boy’ [and true to form] investigates gender roles in the Black community and the quest for acceptance in the world of hip-hop celebrity.” A daring and confrontational solo work, “Inventing Pookie Jenkins” (2006), now realized with an ensemble of six, “Live!” “references our own humanity in this digital age, creating an abstracted and humorously dark narrative that places the iconic childhood character in an industrial dystopia.”
About this evening-length ensemble work, Abraham notes, “This story took on a deeper dive when faced with the 2010 media headlines surrounding the untimely death of college student Tyler Clementi and 13-year-old Ryan Halligan in 2003. I began to think about a time in my life when I prayed that I could go unnoticed. Hoping that if I get my voice to sound like the other male students around me, I wouldn’t be found out. I just wanted to be a robot…a puppet…but maybe without the lederhosen.”
Abraham’s history includes degrees in dance from SUNY Purchase and NYU, and his performing career boasts different stints with David Dorfman Dance, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Kevin Wynn Collection and Attack Theatre, to name a few. Since his company began in 2006, the accolades and awards are many and include a 2010 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for his work in “The Radio Show,” along with a 2010 Princess Grace Award for Choreography and a Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowship. He was also honored as one of Dance magazine’s “25 to Watch.”
Abraham’s work has been presented at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Harlem Stage, Fall for Dance Festival at New York’s City Center, the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum in Japan and more. Most recently, Ailey 2 commissioned “The Corner.”
“Live!” will feature collaborators and dancers Rena Butler, Elyse Morris, Chalvar Monteiro, Rachelle Rafailedes, Hsiao-Jou Tang and Maleek Malaki Washington; lighting design by Dan Scully; costume design by Kristi Wood; and visual artwork by Carrie Schneider. For more information, visit www.thekitchen.org or call (212) 255-5793.