Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company presents the World Premiere of e-Motion

from Emily MT

The Cherry Arts and Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company present e-Motion, an intermission-less program-length dance from May 26 to June 4, 2023 at The Cherry Artspace, 102 Cherry Street, Ithaca, NY and everywhere online. Tickets for in-person performances are $35 for adults, $25 for seniors, $15 for students, and livestream tickets are $20. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thecherry.org/e-motion. The livestream will be edited in real time from a three-camera shoot, designed for the screen. For more information, please visit: https://www.dancewithus.org/e-motion.

Award-winning choreographer Daniel Gwirtzman collaborates with award-winning playwright Saviana Stanescu for a piece that explores artificial intelligence, neuroscience and what it means to be human in a digital age. Gwirtzman creates a physical interpretation of Stanescu's mind-bending text that brings conceptual ideas deep into the human body. The genre of the 45-minute work is dance and lives as a hybridized form, where dance meets theater. The score is primarily text, augmented by previously unheard music composed by the late Jeff Story, the Company's longtime musical collaborator who passed away unexpectedly last April.

The narrative, accessible piece – an extended duet performed by Gwirtzman and Company dancer Sarah Hillmon – depicts a creator and a product. Which is which? Referencing Frankenstein of Mary Shelley's imagination, this researcher is a neuroscientist and (unlike Shelley's scientist), a woman. The narrative follows the presentation of the AI creature, for scholarly and public consumption. Our protagonist has worked for decades to arrive at this moment. The big launch. Experiments and demonstrations are given. What could go wrong?

"e-Motion is a story very much about the future, about a future in which AI has advanced. Advanced to a way that resembles some of our fantasies and fears of the present," said Gwirtzman. "That machines will demonstrate consciousness. That machines will become capable of emoting, of feeling, of feeling emotions. And once doing so...what becomes possible?"

Gwirtzman's movements inform Stanescu's words. Her words inform his movements. Their process of creation is one in which multiple iterations lob back and forth in an extended sequence of volleys, translating emotions into movement, embodying emotions. 
ChatGPT has been used in the initial stages of script creation, with responses generated through a series of questions that will be utilized in an interactive component with the audience.. In addition, So-Yeon Yoon, associate professor of human centered design at Cornell University works with the e-Motion team to incorporate data visualization in the work, capturing the emotions/brainwaves and manipulating them in real time to produce scenic imagery for the piece.
"We live in a time of rapid advances in AI technology, the Artificial Intelligence systems get smarter and smarter every second. But what is our responsibility as humans, as creators of AI towards our "Creature"? What are the ethical aspects of our interactions with future emotional AI? Big questions...On a lighter note: my neurons are joyously firing when I work on interdisciplinary performances. Certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, invade my brain and I happily collaborate with world-class choreographers like Daniel Gwirtzman to create a unique dance-theatre piece exploring AI and the neuroscience of emotions," says playwright Saviana Stanescu.

About Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company
Celebrating their 25th Anniversary in the fall of 2023, the nonprofit has been committed to education since its inception in 1998, operating with the philosophy that everyone can join the dance through multigenerational interactive programming. Incorporating dance and story into the film medium has been a consistent practice along with creating original programming for the stage. Collaborations that erode boundaries, blend genres and disciplines, take chances, involve community, promote accessibility, and celebrate performers' individuality and humanity are areas of focus. The Company's acclaimed recent creation, a digital educational resource, Dance With Us, showcases the Company's decade-long practice working in the dance for camera genre. https://dancewithus.org. Upcoming: The American Dance Festival has selected DGDC's film "Charged" for the 90th Anniversary of the Festival on June 17. Additionally, Lincoln Center and NYPL have invited DGDC to headline a special event on July 26 at Lincoln Center, where the company will premiere a new work.

About Daniel Gwirtzman
Daniel Gwirtzman–producer, director, educator, filmmaker and dancer–celebrates twenty-eight years as a New York choreographer and company director. His diverse repertory has earned praise for its humor, stylistic versatility, musicality, charisma and accessibility. "A flair for the entertaining," says critic Elizabeth Zimmer. "Mr. Gwirtzman does know that in dance less can be more. And that's a good thing for any choreographer to know" writes The New York Times. The New Yorker describes him as a choreographer of "high spirits and skill."

For the New York City-based Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, he has created more than one hundred repertory works known for their playful virtuosity, blending robust physicality with universal themes. His choreography has been performed at venues throughout the country and abroad. He has been awarded commissions, residencies and fellowships from institutions including the Joyce Theater Foundation (NY), Ucross Foundation (WY), The Studios at Key West (FL), Aktuelle Architektur der Kultur (Spain), Dora Maar House (France), The Yard (MA), Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (MA), CUNY Dance Initiative (NYC), Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA), Sfakiotes (Greece), Gdański Festiwal Tanca (Poland), Raumars (Finland) and the Sacatar Foundation (Brazil).

A master teacher, Gwirtzman has worked at numerous universities. He has been a full-time faculty member at SUNY Buffalo State, Kennesaw State University, and The University of the Arts and is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Ithaca College's newly inaugurated School of Music, Theatre, and Dance since 2019. Daniel holds degrees from The University of Michigan and The University of Wisconsin. He danced in the companies of Garth Fagan Dance and the Mark Morris Dance Group among others. He co-founded Artichoke Dance Company in 1995, which The New York Times called "a welcome addition to the New York dance scene." As a dancer he has been described as "a willowy John Travolta, sensual, playful, a rag doll, unusually supple, and one who moves like the wind."

About Saviana Stanescu
Saviana Stanescu is a cutting-edge award-winning Romanian playwright, poet, and ARTivist based in NY, author of Aliens with Extraordinary Skills, For a Barbarian Woman, Don't / Dream, Bee Trapped Inside the Window, Zebra 2.0, LAB RATS, What Happens Next, Ants, Lenin's Shoe, Hurt, Useless, Toys, and many other plays centering the immigrant experience. Winner of New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Play (Waxing West) and UNITER Award for Best Romanian Play of the Year (Inflatable Apocalypse), Saviana has published over 20 books of plays and poetry, written in English and Romanian, translated and produced around the world. Other honors: Fulbright, Indie Theatre Hall of Fame, John Golden Award, KulturKontakt, Marulic Prize for Best European Radiodrama, Inaugural Audrey Residency with New Georges, etc. 
Saviana's US plays have been developed/produced off-Broadway at Women's Project, La MaMa, 59E59, NYTW, EST, HERE, New Georges, The New Group, Lark; regionally at the Hangar Theatre, Cherry Artspace, Civic Ensemble, HartBeat Ensemble, Know Theatre, B Street Theatre, Traveling Jewish Theatre; and globally at Teatro La Capilla in Mexico City, Teatrul Odeon in Bucharest, Dramalabbet in Stockholm, etc. She was a writer-in-residence for Richard Schechner's East Coast Artists in New York and for the National Museum of Literature in Bucharest.
Ms Stanescu holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing and an MA in Performance Studies from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, and currently works as an Associate Professor of Playwriting and Contemporary Theatre at Ithaca College. She has published over 20 books of drama and poetry, written in English or Romanian.

Saviana is the founding artistic director of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY), and curates/hosts the recurring IASNY programs: Liberty's Daughters – Immigrant Women's Monologues, New York with an Accent, and Global Poetry Series (GPS). www.saviana.com, www.savianastanescu.com

About Sarah Hillmon
In addition to working with DGDC since before the pandemic, Sarah was a member of Lucinda Childs Dance Company, where she toured internationally performing classic works from 2012-2018. She was on the world tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson' opera, Einstein on the Beach, with choreography by Childs, for three years. 

About The Cherry Arts
The Cherry Arts is a multi-arts hub that creates vibrant spaces for collaboration and experimentation across artistic and cultural boundaries. We host works in the Cherry Artspace, Cherry Gallery, and Camilla Schade Studio, all on Cherry Street in Ithaca's West End. A primary focus of our support is the Cherry Artists' Collective, a self-governing ensemble of professional theater artists who create new works of performance that are radically local, radically international, and formally innovative.
This production is funded in part by a $10,000 Support for Artists grant award sponsored by The Cherry Arts, thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul, Katherine Nicholls, Chair, and Mara Manus, Executive Director, of the New York State Council on the Arts.
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