BITS & BYTES: “Choreopolitics” exhibition at the MASS MoCA; caucus of British Democrats; local mass Audubon events; Spencertown Academy welcomes author Wickenden

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MASS MoCA will open an exhibition of Brendan Fernandes and nibia pastrana santiago

ADAMS NORTH – MASS MoCA will present “Choreopolitics: Brendan Fernandes and nibia pastrana santiago”, on view from Saturday 9 April. The exhibition juxtaposes the work of two multidisciplinary artists, who use dance to resist, heal and connect. “Choreopolitics” is curated by McClain Groff, a graduate curator from Williams College’s Art History Graduate Program.

nibia pastrana santiago. Photo courtesy of the artist

Both Fernandes and Pastrana Santiago were trained in ballet, and through their work invert the style’s demands for spectacle, grace and the illusion of ease. Fernandes reshapes and expands ballet through classical technique and experimental movement that challenges social and political spaces of hegemony. pastrana santiago exploits laziness and exhaustion as a way to critique working practices and training structures in ballet and dance more broadly. Together, their works exemplify what performance studies scholar André Lepecki calls “choreopolitics” – or planned and persistent freedom movements – by confronting dance’s histories of colonialism and marginalization, while highlighting the potential for form resistance.

Fernandes’ work addresses issues of race, queer culture, and other forms of collective movement and protest through the examination and reimagining of ballet. His “As One” series (2017), which features photographs of ballet dancers in classical poses alongside African masks, focuses on the discipline, display and mastery of bodies in the space of the Imperial Museum, which often viewed African dance culture as exotic and primitive. Comparison. His video, “Free Fall: For Camera” (2019), inspired by the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, features a group of dancers continuously falling and rising, en masse. Fernandes emphasizes the dancers’ repeated return to verticality, after the fall, as an expression of collective solidarity and resistance.

Pastrana Santiago uses moments of stillness and slowness in her work not only as a critique of capitalism and privilege, but also as a challenge to the viewer’s expectation of dance as entertainment or spectacle. Born and raised in Caguas, Puerto Rico, her work often visualizes and articulates the Puerto Rican experience, marked by debt, dispossession and displacement. In the video “NO MORE EFFORTS” (2020), Pastrana Santiago herself oscillates between the extremes of exhaustive and mundane movement, in locations that highlight Puerto Rico’s longstanding economic struggles and the class dichotomy between leisure and laziness. Her text “the lazy dancer” (2013) recalls American dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s “No Manifesto” of 1965 and proclaims the artist’s resistance to traditional forms of dance, outlining the principles of a radically new approach.

—AK

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Great Barrington Democrats to elect delegates to March 5 state convention

GREAT BARRINGTON – At Saturday March 5 at 9:30 a.m.Democrats will meet virtually and at the Claire Teague Senior Center (927 South Main St. in Great Barrington) to elect 6 delegates and 4 alternates to represent Great Barrington at the 2022 State Democratic Convention. This caucus will be held in accordance with public health guidelines, and participants can participate remotely by registering on this website.

Registered and pre-registered Democrats in Great Barrington who are 16 years old as of February 4, 2022 can vote and be elected as delegates or alternates at the caucus. Youth (ages 16-35), people with disabilities, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community who are not elected as delegates or alternates are encouraged to apply to serve as additional delegates, either in caucus or in visiting the Mass Dems Website.

The 2022 Convention will be a hybrid convention, with in-person proceedings alongside virtual attendance options, on June 3-4 at the DCU Center in Worcester. Delegates will meet to approve candidates for the statewide election ahead of the Democratic primary in September.

Those interested in getting involved with the Great Barrington Town Democratic Committee should contact Michael Wise at [email protected] or 413-854-1323.

—AK

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Mass Audubon announces March lineup for Berkshire County

Audubon winter raptor mace
Photo courtesy of Mass Audubon

BERKSHIRE COUNTY – Mass Audubon has announced its March event lineup in Berkshire County, which includes workshops in Lenox, Sheffield and Pittsfield. Advance registration is required for all events.

Tracking Workshop: Predator and Prey
Saturday March 5, 10am-12pm
Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheffield

Members: $15, non-members: $20
Join a Mass Audubon naturalist to explore wildlife tracking at Lime Kiln Farm. Wander through fields and forests looking for tracks, droppings and signs of the delicate but exciting interactions between predators and prey. Look for signs of coyotes, foxes, deer and rabbits. Dress for the weather and be prepared for rough terrain. Snowshoes or other traction aid may be required depending on conditions.

Birdwatching workshop: winter raptors
Saturday March 5, 4-7 p.m.
Community Gardens, 350 Williams Street, Pittsfield

Members: $22, non-members: $28
Dive into the world of avian predators and how they overwinter. From day hawks perched on the treetops to shy evening owls, there are many birds of prey that winter in the Berkshires. Learn about the movements, behavior and where to find raptors. Starting in Canoe Meadows, travel to several locations in search of diurnal raptors and continue after dark when the owls begin to hunt. Dress for the weather and bring your own binoculars and spotting scope, and be prepared for rough terrain. Snowshoes or other traction aid may be required depending on conditions.

American Woodcock Sky Dance
Wednesday March 16, 7-8 p.m.
Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheffield

Members: $7, non-members: $10
When the sun goes down in early spring, woodcock love is in the air. The wet meadows and fields are transformed into a “runway” for their beautiful aerial courtship display. Visit the meadows to listen and observe the performances of the woodcocks on their breeding grounds. Seeing their dance from the sky is a natural sight not to be missed. Dress according to the weather. Bring binoculars and waterproof boots. Subject to change depending on the weather.

American Woodcock Sky Dance
Friday March 18, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lime Kiln Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheffield

Members: $7, non-members: $10
When the sun goes down in early spring, woodcock love is in the air. The wet meadows and fields are transformed into a “runway” for their beautiful aerial courtship display. Visit the meadows to listen and observe the performances of the woodcocks on their breeding grounds. Seeing their dance from the sky is a natural sight not to be missed. Dress according to the weather. Bring binoculars and waterproof boots. Subject to change depending on the weather.

woodcock audubon mass
Woodcock photo courtesy of Mass Audubon

American Woodcock Sky Dance
Wednesday March 23, 7-8 p.m.
Housatonic Wildlife Management Area, Lenox

Members: $7, non-members: $10
When the sun goes down in early spring, woodcock love is in the air. The wet meadows and fields are transformed into a “runway” for their beautiful aerial courtship display. Visit our meadows to listen to and observe the performances of the woodcock on their breeding grounds. Seeing the sky dance of the woodcock is a natural spectacle not to be missed. Dress according to the weather. Bring binoculars and waterproof boots if you have them. Subject to change depending on the weather.

American Woodcock Sky Dance
Friday March 25, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, Pittsfield

Members: $7, non-members: $10
When the sun goes down in early spring, woodcock love is in the air. The wet meadows and fields are transformed into a “runway” for their beautiful aerial courtship display. Visit the meadows to listen and observe the performances of the woodcocks on their breeding grounds. Seeing their dance from the sky is a natural sight not to be missed. Dress according to the weather. Bring binoculars and waterproof boots. Subject to change depending on the weather.

Birdwatching workshop: spring wetlands and waterbirds
Saturday March 26, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary, Pittsfield

Members: $22, non-members: $28
Enter the early spring wetlands to see early migrating waterfowl like ducks, herons and sparrows. Begin the trip at Canoe Meadows and travel to a few locations in and around the Housatonic Wildlife Management Area. Focusing on how to find early birds in wetlands, discuss the songs, calls, and complex behaviors of wetland birds. Dress for the weather and be prepared for rough and wet terrain. Waterproof boots are a good option for footwear. Bring your own binoculars and spotting scope.

—AK

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Spencertown Academy will host a talk by author Dorothy Wickenden

Image courtesy of Spencertown Academy

SPENCERTOWN, NY — Spencertown Academy Arts Center, in conjunction with the Chatham Bookstore, will feature Dorothy Wickenden, author of “The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights” (Scribner) on Saturday March 12 at 2 p.m.. She will participate in a conversation with author Winifred Gallagher. Advance reservations are required. Tickets ($10) are available online.

Wickenden is the editor of The New Yorker and host of its weekly “Politics and More” podcast. In “The Agitators,” she tells the stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, early women’s rights movements, and the Civil War. These pivotal American stories are enriched by glimpsing them through the friendship of exceptional women who have spent decades violating the laws and conventions of their time.

Gallagher is the author of 10 books, including “New Women in the Old West: From Settlers to Suffragists, an Untold American Story” (Penguin Press) and “Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life” (Penguin Books), which was a New York bestseller of the time.

Both authors’ books will be on sale and the authors will be available to sign them after the conversation. Ticket holders will receive 10% off books purchased at the event.

Proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test will be required for admission, seating will be remote and limited, and masks will be required for members of the public in the building.

—AK

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