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USC Visions and Voices presents The Los Angeles Premiere of Ephrat Asherie Dance’s UNDERSCORED

October 19, 2023

Join Ephrat Asherie Dance for a joyful, decades-spanning celebration of New York City’s underground dance club scene with pioneers of waacking, voguing, house, and more, followed by a dance party!

Visions and Voices, USC’s arts and humanities program, is thrilled to present the Los Angeles premiere of Ephrat Asherie Dance’s UNDERSCORED, also part of the Fall 2023 Season of Works & Process Commissions on Tour. The show will be held on Thursday, October 19, 2023 at 7 pm at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, 3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089. Admission is free. Reservations required at https://bit.ly/VandV-UNDERSCORED. The event culminates with an on-stage dance party with the artists and audience.

UNDERSCORED is a multi-faceted project rooted in the intergenerational club life stories and memories of five generations of NYC underground dancers. With a cast ranging in age from 28– 80, UNDERSCORED is created and performed by members of Ephrat Asherie Dance, featuring special guest artists from New York City’s underground dance community––club legends Archie Burnett, Brahms “Bravo” LaFortune, and Michele Saunders. Commissioned by Works & Process through the LaunchPAD residency program, UNDERSCORED is now going on tour.

“It is an honor to be sharing the dance floor with . . . legendary club heads who have inspired countless dancers, artists, and free thinkers across the globe,” says company founder and artistic director Ephrat Asherie.

UNDERSCORED celebrates and investigates the performers’ personal histories and connections to the NYC club scene from the 1970s––at seminal parties like the Loft and the Paradise Garage––through today, incorporating rarely seen archival video footage; a vast musical score including funk, disco, and house; and decades of dancing through the culturally reflective styles of breaking, hip hop, house, vogue, waacking, and hustle.

This exhilarating, multimedia journey through the ever-changing physical and musical landscape of New York City’s underground dance community furthers the acclaimed company’s ongoing exploration of vernacular forms of dance as a means to tell stories, develop innovative imagery, and find new modes of expression.

“It’s not arbitrary that it was through these styles (house, vogue, hustle) reflective of the resilience, fortitude, pain and joy of Black and Latine LGBTQIA+ communities’ lived experiences, that I fully discovered dance’s power to express, communicate, narrate and transmute seemingly unsayable thoughts and feelings,” Asherie shares. “The underground dance community in NYC represents the beauty and strength that emerges when the collective consciousness celebrates each individual as their own special creation. This community inspired me to live my life as an artist; for this I am forever grateful.”

UNDERSCORED will open with a conversation with local dancers exploring the street and club dance scene of Los Angeles and will be followed by an on-stage dance party with the artists and audience alike.

About the performers
Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie (Ephrat Asherie Dance founder and artistic director) is a choreographer, multi-faceted performer, and b-girl and a 2016 Bessie Award Winner for Innovative Achievement in Dance. Asherie has received numerous awards to support her work including Dance Magazine’s Inaugural Harkness Promise Award and two National Dance Project Awards. In 2019 she was the recipient of a NYFA Fellowship and is currently a Jerome Hill Artist Fellow. Asherie’s work has been presented nationally and internationally with commissions from companies including Malpaso and Parsons Dance and additional commissions from Works & Process at the Guggenheim, Vail Dance Festival, Fall for Dance and River to River Festival, among others. Asherie is honored to have been mentored by Richard Santiago (aka Break Easy) and to have worked and collaborated with Michelle Dorrance, Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, Gus Solomons Jr., and Buddha Stretch, among others. Asherie earned her BA from Barnard College, Columbia University in Italian and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee where she researched the vernacular jazz dance roots of contemporary street and club dances. She is a co-founding member of the all-female house dance collective MAWU and is forever grateful to NYC’s underground dance community for inspiring her to pursue a life as an artist.

Archie Burnett (club legend/featured artist) is a highly respected underground club dancer in New York City who was one of the prime dancers during the late ’70s and ’80s, becoming well known for his individual freestyle of whacking/waacking and voguing. He was a close friend and assistant of the grandfather of voguing, the legend Willi Ninja, and is up until now a striving force in the NYC dance scene. Archie has also lectured at Yale University, New York University. and Boston Massachusetts University on the relevance and importance of club culture. He has taught in over 26 countries and continues to provide possibilities for the culture.

Brahms “Bravo” LaFortune (club legend/featured artist) is a NYC club dance legend, illustrious DJ, and iconic party starter who has graced dance floors and turntables world over since 1977. If he’s at a party you want to be there. Bravo is known for his lightning-fast footwork style (what he names as freestyle jazz) and his flourishes of floor dives and spins. He is inspired by the older style of bebop (scat) dancing and everyday movements of people walking down the streets. A self-taught dancer, Bravo’s big inspirations include James Brown, the Nicholas Brothers, Eleanor Powell, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Sammy Davis Jr. and TV shows like Soul Train and PBS’s Dance in America.

Born and raised in Paris, France, Michele Saunders (club legend/featured artist) has been a trailblazing rebel from day one. When she moved to New York City, she started representing some of the world’s most innovative fashion and art photographers and illustrators, giving Saunders a first-row seat to cutting-edge creators in the industry. She also worked for years in the music industry, leading her to the discovery of Paradise Garage, a dance club in New York City that influenced Saunders’ life profoundly, furthering her love of dancing and the world of dance music, connecting her to DJs such as David Morales, Louie Vega, and Kenny Carpenter. Now 80, Saunders stays current and works to connect artist and creative thinkers of all kinds.

UNDERSCORED was developed in Works & Process LaunchPAD residencies at Catskill
Mountain Foundation (2022), Bridge Street Theatre (2021), Kaatsbaan (2020), and the Solomon
R. Guggenheim Museum. Additional residency support provided by CUNY Dance Initiative,
Lumberyard, and The Yard. Past performances have taken place at Harlem Stage, Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Museum, The Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, and The Yard.

UNDERSCORED received lead commissioning and development support by Works & Process for its world premiere at the Guggenheim. UNDERSCORED was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Foundation and Mellon Foundation. This project is made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals for a residency at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center, made possible through support from the Mellon Foundation. UNDERSCORED is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation & Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Works
& Process in partnership with ArtPower at UC San Diego, the Momentary, and The Yard. The Creation & Development Fund is supported by the Doris Duke Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency).
About Ephrat Asherie Dance
Ephrat Asherie Dance (EAD) is a New York City–based dance company rooted in African
American and Latine street and club dances. Dedicated to exploring the inherent complexities of these dances, EAD investigates the expansive narrative qualities of various vernacular forms including breaking, hip hop, house and vogue, as a means to tell stories, develop innovative imagery, and find new modes of expression. EAD’s first evening-length work, A Single Ride, earned two Bessie nominations in 2013 for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer and Outstanding Sound Design. EAD has been presented nationally and internationally at theaters and festivals including The Joyce Theater (NYC, NY), El Festival Internacional Cervantino (Guanajuato, Mexico), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (Becket,MA) Works & Process at the Guggenheim (NYC, NY, FiraTarrega (Tarrega, Spain), The Modlin Center (Richmond, VA) and New York City Center, among others.
About USC Visions and Voices
USC Visions and Voices is a university-wide arts and humanities initiative that was launched in 2006. Highlighting USC’s excellence in the arts and humanities, the initiative provides a transformative and provocative experience for all USC students, regardless of their major or year in school, and challenges them to expand their perspectives and become engaged citizens.
About Works & Process
A non-profit without walls, Works & Process champions performing artists and their creative process from studio to stage. We platform artists from the world’s largest organizations and amplify underrecognized performing arts cultures. We provide rare, longitudinal, and fullyfunded creative residencies, and commissioning support. We present at the Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division. Each summer Works & Process curates and presents free dance programs with City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage and NYC Parks.

Works & Process LaunchPAD “Process as Destination” provides artists multi-week residencies with 24/7 studio availability, on-site housing, health insurance enrollment access, industry leading fees, and transportation to over a dozen residency partners spanning 9 counties in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

“Praise and gratitude also must go to Works & Process . . . directing attention and resources to dance communities often neglected by the institutions of concert dance.” —The New York Times

Stay connected:
@ephratasheriedance www.ephratasheriedance.com



October 19, 2023


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