Original Soundscape and score:
Jacob Wolos and John Philippidis
Dani Cole, Ross Daniel, Yuriko Hiroura, Meghann Padgett, Andrew Pester, Emily Tellier
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SIXTH EXIT, a new evening-long dance piece by 277 Dance Project, conceived and choreographed Nicole Philippidis, was inspired by a bizarre incident. While walking on a most ordinary day through the streets of New York – her hometown where she has been living her entire life as a well adjusted, street-savvy urbanite – Nicole experienced a sudden bout of breathlessness and panic, apparently caused by a strange quality of the Midtown air. Looking around, she realized nobody else was affected; the passers-by went about their business, their eyes glued to their phone screens. Exasperated, she followed the instinct which instructed her to look for a patch of greenery that would restore her inner balance and found refuge and calm among the trees at the West Side Promenade. The episode sparked a renewed interest in news headlines that so far seemed quite abstract and impersonal: about the devastating progress of global environmental damage, dwindling resources, catastrophic climate change – and their inevitable consequences for the social structures in all their aspects.
The subsequent research (encompassing, among other materials, writings by The New Yorker’s environmental reporter Elizabeth Kolbert, philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, biologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, and artwork by Norvegian visual artist Vebjørn Sand) gave birth to the four-movement work for six dancers. In SIXTH EXIT, Philippidis reflects on ubiquitous complacency of the present day and the possible future outcomes for the human race, torn between its drive towards disconnecting from the natural world and the biology which forever bounds humans to the planet they inhabit. The piece – developed in workshops through improvisation and verbal and visual feedback from company members – is centered on expressive choreography, structured into four vignettes/episodes. The narrative arc progresses from the place of quiet breakdown of life’s fundamentals, through a moment of deep soul-searching, towards panic and then, a slow realignment, leaving the viewer with the question: is humanity facing the sixth, man-made extinction (the titular SIXTH EXIT) - or will it come to its collective senses before it’s too late?
In the fully staged production, the dancers will be moving in and out of digital imagery and accompanied by the original score performed live by a longtime company collaborator, award-winning musician Johnny Philippidis, who devised his score in relation to the original ambient soundscape created by first time collaborator and sound artist, Jacob Wolos.