Image by Effy Falck

abandoned playground

Abby Z and the New Utility Abby Z and the New Utility

Inside the intimate stadium setup of this work, 9 dancers rip through the space performing complex sequences of hyper-physical dance that push their understandings of their own capabilities and endurance. Recognized with the 2017 Juried Bessie Award for her “unique and utterly authentic movement vocabulary in complex and demanding structures,” Abby Zbikowski generates her bold, high-intensity, precisely rhythmic choreography from her background of hip-hop, tap, West African, and postmodern dance styles, deeply-rooted punk aesthetic, and close collaboration with her dancers who bring their specific bodies, psychologies, and training histories to the work. In this evening length work Zbikowski highlights each of her dancers’ unique strengths and simultaneously forges an intense ensemble connection in that through vocalizations and the channeling of communal energy the dancers invigorate each other to overcome the physical and mental exhaustion of performing such extreme and virtuosic movement at the relentless pace required. Like life, no overstated purpose is given, but as the New York Times dance critic Siobhan Burke surmises “the effort justifies itself.”

From Fusebox and Women & Their Work So no matter how hard it get, stick your chest out. Keep your head up, and handle it — from Me Against the World, 2Pac, Me Against the World (1995). Overcoming, resisting, persisting, insisting, pushing beyond the body’s perceived limits is fundamental to existing within a system that is built against you. The movement lexicon that informs the choreographic works of Abby Zbikowski and the New Utility is born from the long tradition of radically resistant Afro-Diasporic dance forms. abandoned playground exacts severe physical and mental rigor from its dancers with the effects of extreme exhaustion incorporated within the choreography as an integral aspect of the performance. In Abby Zbikowski’s work, dance becomes the labor of defiance and protest with teamwork as an indispensable requirement for sustainability.


Choreographer: Abby Zbikowski; Rehearsal Director: Fiona Lundie; Assistant Rehearsal Director: Jennifer Meckley; Music by: Raphael Xavier; Lighting Design: Jon Harper; Cast/collaborators: Fiona Lundie, Shaela Davis, Justin Faircloth, Jessie Young; Jennifer Meckley, Jennifer Lu, Evelyn Sanchez Narvaez, Ali Herring, Alexa Bender

About Women & Their Work Known for its groundbreaking spirit, embrace of artistic innovation, and commitment to artists, Women & Their Work serves as a catalyst for new ideas in contemporary art. Presenting more than 50 events each year, we serve as a vital hub for the new and the innovative. Since 1978, we have created significant opportunities for artists and audiences to experience the art of our time through ambitious exhibitions, commissions of new work, performances, and education programs that inform audiences of all ages.


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