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New Works performances wow Tarkington crowd

June 8, 2022

Seven costumed dancers form a line in front of a blue video projection of billowing smoke.

Members of the Kenyettá Dance Company perform the original ballet "A Place in Time" during the New Works Premiere Performances, which took place before a live audience June 4 at the Tarkington and were livestreamed for viewers elsewhere.



Premiere caps first year of arts commission project


An in-house and online crowd was thoroughly wowed Saturday night when three never-before-seen performance works made their debuts at the Tarkington theater.


The occasion was the inaugural New Works Premiere Performances, the culmination of a commission project developed by the Center for the Performing Arts to support local artists in the wake of the pandemic lockdown, now set to be an annual program. From more than 30 proposals submitted, a judging panel selected three to receive $2,500 stipends and technical support to develop new pieces for the stage.


An actress dressed as a nurse gestures on stage.

Women's Work

First up was Women’s Work, a short play written by Alicia LaMagdeleine and performed by the Indianapolis-based Betty Rage Productions theater troupe. Six actresses portrayed women battling various challenges and indignities at key moments in their careers, accompanied by a male guitarist symbolizing the control that men still exercise in the workplace. As noted in the talkback after the show, the group plans to flesh out the piece for performance later this year at the annual IndyFringe Theatre Festival.


A costumed young man performs on a Cyr wheel, backed by a woman on piano and a man on guitar.

Fly High

Next came Fly High, a mesmerizing performance by Bloomington resident Zackary Herzig on the Cyr wheel (a 35-pound steel hoop) with accompaniment from his parents, jazz pianist-composer Monika Herzig and guitarist Peter Kienle. The original music and choreography were inspired by the family’s journey through Zackary’s gender transition, as well as his decision to pursue a career as a circus artist.


“With both of us being jazz musicians, you can’t really say, ‘Go get a real job,’” Monika quipped during the talkback.


The final piece was A Place in Time, a graceful, gravity-defying four-part ballet choreographed by Nicholas A. Owens and Lalah Ayan Hazelwood of Kenyettá Dance Company. With dramatic lighting and a backdrop of surreal video projections, seven dancers performed to original orchestral music composed by Hanna Benn.


“The piece is about where we have been as a people and where we are headed, hopefully leaving you in a hopeful, encouraged and inspired space,” said Hazelwood, who also was one of the dancers.


New Works was supported by the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation and by Doug and Jayne Ann Wilson.


The second year of New Works is already under way. Applications are due Sept. 16, with the winning proposals announced in January 2023 and premiere performances scheduled for June 10, 2023, at the Palladium. Find New Works details here.


Nine artists seated onstage for a discussion

The artists take questions from the audience after the New Works performances on June 4 at the Tarkington.