DETROIT, MICH.- The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
has been selected to present the Detroit Pavilion at the 2012 Shanghai Biennale on Oct. 2, 2012March 31, 2013. With the ninth annual Biennale focused on the theme of Resources, Revisit, Reform and Republic, curator Rebecca Mazzei has utilized the framework of theater to exhibit Detroits multifaceted art scene. The pavilion will present Voice of the City, a contemporary Vaudeville interpretation produced by the physical theater ensemble, The Hinterlands, with performances and film documentation of the underground Detroit dance form Jit performed by Haleem (Stringz) Rasul and an original soundscape with kinetic sculpture from composer Frank Pahl.
Vaudeville, which morphed from the French voix de ville, took hold during America's second wave of immigration. It provided new citizens with a platform for introducing and expressing unique aspects of their culture to mainstream audiences. The Hinterlands, based in Detroit, has been experimenting with the construct of Vaudeville as a way of investigating Detroits identity in the face of changing demographics and ideals. Detroits pop culture and subculture, the citys past and present, are mined for clues into who we are in 2012.
The Shanghai production of Voice of the City is an entry point into understanding the diverse creative expression that grew from Detroits race rebellion of 1967 and still shapes the aesthetic of today. Physical comedy, acrobatics and street dance are presented as a series of live interactive performances during the Biennales opening weekend. A spotlight shines on dancer Haleem (Stringz) Rasul, who specializes in Jit, an underground Detroit dance form with roots in the pervasive Jitterbug dance that enlivened dance halls across the country nearly a century ago. During the unrest of the late 1960s, Detroiters in an eastside neighborhood retooled that dance style into an implicitly political art form that is still evolving through underground dance clubs, and can be characterized by fast and aggressive footwork, hopping, stopping, slapping, and gyration, interrupted by moments of complete calm.
The Hinterlands formed in September 2009 and is made up of core members Richard Newman, Eleni Zaharopoulos and Liza Bielby. The Hinterlands unique, highly collaborative process fuses the diverse backgrounds of its members in order to devise work that defies categorization. For this program, the ensemble melds improvisation, theatre practices from the Grotowski and Lecoq lineages, Chinese Opera training, street dance, and performance art to produce work that straddles both mainstream and fringe culture. Newman, Bielby, and Zaharopoulos have worked with diverse international ensembles including Double Edge Theatre (Ashfield, MA), The DellArte Company (Blue Lake, CA), Jinjiang Yishu Tuan (Chengdu, China), Great Small Works (New York, NY), and Changfu Jutuan (Chengdu, China). They have performed throughout North America as well as in Kosovo, Bali, Germany, Macedonia, Poland, Spain and China. The Hinterlands have recently received funding from CEC Artslink, Theatre Communications Group, Asian Cultural Council, and The National Performance Network.
Haleem (Stringz) Rasul is the founder of Hardcore Detroit and is dancer/choreographer for Pistons D-town Dancers. He discovered his passion to dance at an early age. Growing up in Detroit came with its own unique challenges that served as motivators and helped to manifest his creative and business ventures. His motto is hardcore, which represents success after struggle and overcoming hardships to achieve victory. Rasul established Hardcore Detroit in 2001. Since then, he has instructed dance workshops internationally, judged and participated in dance tournaments throughout the nation, organized dance-related events in his hometown, and produced relevant merchandising materials. Hardcore Detroit was voted Best Dance Company in the 2010 Real Detroit readers poll.
Frank Pahl has received over 80 commissions to write music for theater, film, and dance and has performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan. His music has appeared on more than 70 releases. Since 2000, he's actively created kinetic sound installations, which are frequently designed to accompany his music. Pahl has taught sound design at College for Creative Studies and sound-related courses at University of Michigan. His current music projects are Scavenger Quartet and Little Bang Theory. Pahl received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Wayne State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Art and Design with an emphasis in Sound Art from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.