The LES Citizens Parade is an activist processional and series of performances connecting community members of NYC's Lower East Side. Co-created by Dances for a Variable Population's artistic director and choreographer Naomi Goldberg Haas and visual artist Laura Nova, and performed by neighborhood senior citizens and legendary senior dancers, the work will create a celebratory, visual journey that honors the experience of long-term residents and marks the opening of a new eco-park at Pier 35.
Artist, Athlete, Academic: I make site-specific, action-oriented projects, rooted in social relationships, fusing active and activist audience participation. Through sculpture, photo, video, sound, performance and installation, I provide tools to collaborate with communities. I use cardio, comedy and cooking to connect audiences and invite people into these experiences. My work takes the form of billboards, racetracks and karaoke stages. I coach running and cheerleading groups, produce races and walking tours, organize potlucks and nutrition workshops.
I strive towards positive change in the community through visually evocative art and empowering educational programs. Collaborating with choreographer Naomi Goldberg Haas in the “LES Citizens Parade” brings together my deepening practice of movement with my activism of sustaining the Lower East Side community where I also live. I have experience working with the Lower East Side senior population, and I reside within the area that is officially designated a NORC - a naturally occurring retirement community. I see this parade as a way to activate senior voices and make them heard in a loud visual and performance spectacle. The parade will allow for improvisational community collaboration, as participation merges into performance and edges into everyday life.
Naomi Goldberg Haas
For over 25 years I have been investigating the nature of movement and how it relates to expression, how traditional “dance” vocabulary can be stretched by diversity of body type, age and experience. Since 2005, I have been working in depth with senior communities throughout NYC, mixing older adults with young modern dancers, exploring how these disparate groups enhance movement and expression. These investigations have led to a series of dances, which explore the limits, surprises, and beauty of an older body in motion. Recently, I have been collaborating with legendary artists with a lifetime of dance and performance training. I am interested in discovering how the lifelong practice of their art has shaped their choices physically, emotionally and in sensibility, and how their intense, refined performances can inspire others.
The “LES Citizens Parade” will advance my work in three ways. First, it will be an opportunity to collaborate with professionally-trained older artists working in seminal cross-cultural techniques. Second, the project will give me my first opportunity to collaborate with a visual artist, Laura Nova, as a true partner, involved from the beginning in defining the concept and building the work. Third, it is feeling necessary for me to link art and activism, and the Parade offers an opportunity to engage directly with the public – in movement, in dialogue, in outrage: developing movement and designing leaflets and images to share that transmit powerful information about housing, immigration, needs of seniors and other issues defined by the Lower East Side participants.