(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- PEAK Performances at Montclair State University presents the U.S. premiere of acclaimed Greek artist Tzeni Argyriou’s ANΩNYMO, a journey back to a time before dance was defined by or attached to named individuals, but rather a practice which brought people—and kept communities—together. Conceived and choreographed by Argyriou, ANΩNYMO traverses ancient modes of expression, rooted in human contact, holding, group cohesion, and shared joy. A response to digital media’s transformation and diminishment of physical communication, and its intensification of our individualist impulses, ANΩNYMO finds humanity and catharsis in the collective.
Performances of ANΩNYMO take place May 4 & 5 at 7:30pm, May 6 at 8:00pm, and May 7 at 3:00pm at the Alexander Kasser Theater (1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ). Tickets, $40-50, can be purchased at PEAKperfs.org or 973-655-5112. All Montclair State University undergrads receive a prepaid ticket with a valid ID.
For well over a decade, Tzeni Argyriou had incorporated digital media, and questions surrounding both its social and artistic potential and its hastening conquest of our attention, into her choreography. Now that the digital has fully reshaped our bodies’ relationships to the physical world—and to other bodies—her interest in working with it has dwindled. Having a child in a markedly more sedentary, detached world was a turning point for Argyriou. With ANΩNYMO, she made a decision to not only create an analogue work, but one that launches from the self-reflexivity and anti-physicality of the digitized present—where the work begins—into a ritual log-out, towards a physically connective state.
Argyriou initiated a rigorous and collaborative research process to develop and inform the work: first gathering anthropologists, ethnologists, historians, hackers, psychoanalysts, and sociologists for a three-day symposium to develop ideas and thematize the work, and following that with three weeks of movement research workshops involving artists in numerous disciplines and teachers in various forms of traditional dance, from Armenia,Spain, Crete, and Pontus.
Argyriou explains, “I wanted to find bridges that connect 'real' bodies in a period radically dominated by physical detachment, and to reflect upon the possibilities that collective cultural values can offer in an era of digital individualism. This desire led to pre-choreographic forms of collective actions and expressions, and to exploring different ways traditional dancing, singing, rhythms, patterns—and other anonymous forms of ‘art’ also found in architecture or even in agriculture—have been binding us as cultural beings for centuries.”
As such, ANΩNYMO observes our lives through collective body memory, the experience of passing traditional dances on, and considers their metamorphosis into a contemporary movement idiom. This mode of dance insists on defining itself as “anonymous” as it seeks its roots in rites of initiation and participation.
ANΩNYMO’s team includes Tzeni Argyriou (concept and choreography), Miguel Angel Melgares (dramaturgy), Pepe Garcia Rodriguez (original music and sound design), Vassilis Gerodimos (set design and visual concept), and others. ANΩNYMO was originally commissioned and produced by Onassis Stegi, where it made its world premiere on the Main Stage in May 2018.
Tzeni Argyriou studied dance and choreography at the National School of Dance in Athens. For more than 10 years she has been generating choreographic artwork that focuses on the integration of Performing Arts with other Artistic Genres. One of her major interests is the creation of projects that suggest the active engagement of the audience. After exploring the merging of media constructions with the performative exploration, she has returned to the «analogue» body and the empowerment of collective physical experiences.
The performance of ΑΝΩNYMO at PEAK Performances, Montclair State University, is supported by the Onassis Stegi “Outward Turn” program.
Onassis Stegi is the venue in Athens, Greece, where contemporary culture meets aesthetics and science since 2010. Stegi in Greek means “shelter” and “roof”, and it hosts events across the whole spectrum of the arts ranging from the theatre, dance, music, the cinema and the visual arts to digital and hybrid art and the written word. It is part of the Onassis Culture, the cultural pillar and the biggest activity of the Onassis Foundation, founded in 1975. Onassis Culture includes a vast range of activities which all reflect our philosophy: we create our own ‘content’ and activities. We are not neutral, we take a stance about Freedom of speech, Democracy, LGBT, Equal rights, Minorities, Identity, Sustainability. Onassis Culture has its ‘capital’ in Athens: Onassis Stegi.
PEAK Performances is a program of the Office of Arts + Cultural Programming at Montclair State University and has been honored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts with previous Arts Citation of Excellence and Designation of Major Impact. Wiley Hausam was recently named Director, Arts + Cultural Programming and assumed the role in January 2023.
This season of PEAK Performances is made possible, in part, with funds from The Alexander Kasser Theater Endowment Fund, PEAK Performances patrons, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Credits and Acknowledgements
by Tzeni Argyriou
Produced by Onassis Stegi (Greece)
Co-produced by Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine Saint-Denis (France),
Kalamata International Dance Festival (Greece)
Research Support Duncan Dance Research Center
Touring Support by Onassis Stegi
Touring & Production Management by Delta Pi