The world premiere of Dan Safer's The History of Empires from La MaMa's longtime resident dance-theatre company begins October 27 at the Off-Off-Broadway venue. The evening-length dance piece will run through November 6 starring Marcus McGregor, who returns to the stage for the first time in 15 years.
McGregor performs a solo dance which he co-choreographed with Safer, who is at the helm. The show also features McGregor in a duet with Daniel Pettrow. Pettrow has previously been seen in work with The Wooster Group and John Heginbotham, while McGregor has previously worked danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Feld Ballet.
The History of Empires explores the rise and fall of them frmo the historical and political to the contemporary and personal, featuring text by Chuck Mee (Big Love0 and spoken by Kevin Mambo (Fela), Angela Winkler (The Tin Drum), and McGregor. Music is composed by Christian Frederickson (Palissimo), projections by Tom Kalin (Swoon) lighting design by Jay Ryan, and set and costume design by Deb O.
Development of the piece originally began in September 2020 when Safer, McGregor, and eventually composer Frederickson began to work together in a pod at Safer’s home and studio in upstate New York.
“We started Empires over the pandemic," Safer said in an earlier statement, "with the goal of simply finding ways to make something. We really dug into our isolation and fear, and in the process discovered beauty, joy and friendship. I think about this piece like an ongoing exorcism, going through the rough stuff to come out better, and remembering that if you wait for everything to be okay before you can be happy, you’ll never be happy.”
The History of Empires marks Witness Relocation/Dan Safer’s eighth production at La MaMa since 2006. Safer founded Witness Relocation in 2000, and has also choreographed productions such as Ubu Sings Ubu with Tony Torn, Salzburg Festival’s recent Jedermann, and Dom Juan at SummerScape.
For tickets and more information, visit LaMaMa.org.