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Erika Chong Shuch (Berkeley) collaborating with Kitka, Inc. (Oakland)

Award: $40,000 Performing Arts grant awarded in 2014

To be presented: fall 2016

Choreographer Erika Chong Shuch is collaborating with Kitka, a vocal arts ensemble that is dedicated to music rooted in Eastern European women’s vocal traditions, to create Iron Shoes, a contemporary neo-feminist folk opera combining singing, movement, text, humor, and environments of light. Also collaborating are members of The Erika Chong Shuch (ESP) Performance Project, composer Janet Kutulas, and production designer Allen Willner.

Iron Shoes will transform source material drawn from Eastern European fairytales, imagining the meeting of three young women who are inspired by characters from three separate Slavic tales. In the original stories, each maiden has been doomed to wander the earth in iron shoes, though for different reasons. Only when each has worn out three pairs of these shoes can she hope to find ease, happiness, and authentic love.

Erika Chong Shuch melds theater, dance, music, and design to formulate original performance works with her own company, The ESP Performance Project, and others.

Founded in 1979, Kitka produces concerts, recordings, and educational programs, developing new audiences for music rooted in Eastern European women’s vocal traditions. While Kitka has produced vocal-theater projects in the past and its music often has been used to accompany choreography, Kitka has never worked with a choreographer with the intention of becoming moving singing storytellers in an original work.