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Benjamin Levy (San Francisco) collaborating with ODC Theater (San Francisco)

Award: $35,000 Performing Arts grant awarded in 2006

Premiered: The Jewish Community Center, San Francisco, October 2007

Choreographer Benjamin Levy collaborated with ODC Theater and composer Keeril Makan to develop Bonelines, a new piece of dance-theater about the experiences of immigrants who came to the United States seeking asylum from oppressive regimes and the experiences of the children they raised “American.”  Makan’s music was recorded for use in the performances by Kronos Quartet.

Both Levy and Makan are children of foreign-born parents who fled their native countries. Levy’s parents are Iranian Jews who left the religious and political persecution of the revolution. Makan’s father is Indian, and fled South Africa during apartheid. They used these family histories as staring points for exploring questions of the creation of national identity, the role ethnicity plays, and the meaning of these questions for individuals. To inform the work’s development, ODC Theater facilitated community discussions composed of informal lectures, work-in-progress showings, and conversations with scholars,  immigrant and refugee groups, and general audiences.

ODC/San Francisco is a leading Bay Area modern dance company and a center for dance and contemporary performance. This project’s development took place when ODC Theater’s space was being renovated and Bonelines premiered at the Eugene and Elinor Friend Center for the Arts at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

Benjamin Levy is a choreographer, dancer and artistic director recognized for his cutting-edge interdisciplinary works. He founded LEVYdance in 2002 and the company, Levy has presented original works at prestigious venues across the nation, engaged distinguished collaborators, and established a distinctive aesthetic. In 2004 Levy was named one of the “Top 25 Choreographers to Watch” by Dance Magazine.