Wednesday, March 23, 2022
6:30 pm - 10:00 pm
The Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation celebrates the 85th anniversary of the Steffi Nossen School of Dance with a long awaited return to live theater performance and honoring the connection between modern dance and songwriter Woody Guthrie whose music of hope continues to be vitally relevant – a bright note of hope in today’s world. Dancing will be the school’s pre-professional performance groups: the Steffi Nossen Master Classes and Steffi Nossen Dance Company. Featured performing artists will be Cole Quest and the City Pickers, a group of New York City musicians connected by friendship and a love of bluegrass; they will add their special brand of high-spirited talent to the stage, with up-beat, knee slapping energy and a high lonesome sound. The curtain will rise Thursday at 7:00 pm.
SNSD’s choice to showcase Guthrie’s music at its 85th Anniversary Gala is based on a deep-rooted respect for his vision to tell a lyrical story as one of America’s greatest folksingers. He turned complex ideas about democracy, human rights, and economic equality into songs that all Americans could embrace. Woody Guthrie spoke for those who carried a heavy burden or had come upon hard times — giving voice to their struggles along with hope and strength. A strength of community supporting each other as a united group is an infinite thread embedded within Guthrie’s music as well as a shared mission of SNSD.
The event will highlight Guthrie’s music with SNSD’S Master Class students dancing to songs performed by Guthrie himself, covers of his iconic songs, and songs of previously unpublished lyrics from the Woody Guthrie Archive by Billy Bragg and Wilco.
With Guthrie’s poetry and lyrics woven throughout the night, the event is a true love story of the magical attraction of folk music and modern dance. Guthrie was married to Marjorie Mazia, a dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company for 15 years. Marjorie performed in the 1944 premier of “Appalachian Spring” featuring a score composed by Aaron Copeland inspired by the Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts”. This first introduction of roots music to modern dance inspired a follow-up collaboration by another Graham dancer Sophie Maslow, who used Guthrie’s live performance of his Dust Bowl Ballads in a dance piece titled “Folksay”. Another connective thread in the evening is Martha Graham Dance Company member, May O’Donnell who danced in the Graham company with Marjorie and Sophie. O’Donnell is known for creating and pioneering the May O’Donnell Technique, a codified dance technique that SNSD has adopted for its Master Class program for decades. Guest performers from the Graham 2 Dance Company will be performing a duet excerpt from “Appalachian Spring” to further highlight this beautiful connection between music and dance.
SNSD’s personal connection to the Woody & Marjorie Guthrie family extends further: three generations of the Guthrie family have danced at Steffi Nossen School of Dance. Prior to opening the Woody Guthrie Archive, Guthrie’s daughter Nora, was a professional dancer for over 15 years and had her own dance company, the Guthrie Rotante Dance Company. During this time, Nora choreographed a piece for the school’s pre-professional company. Nora’s daughter, Anna Canoni is one of the school’s alumni and current board member. Canoni’s two daughters are currently members of the Master Class program.
“The Woody & Marjorie Guthrie Family is proud to share Woody’s music and legacy with the Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation this evening celebrating the loving pairing of dance and music, the foundation from which our family was based. It’s vital to learn our history in order to strengthen and guide our future. We appreciate Steffi Nossen for introducing their Master Class students to the history and powerful connection in the arts,” said Anna Canoni.
The program will include work by Westchester choreographers Jessica DiMauro Marks and Annie Doss who created work to Woody Guthrie songs for the Junior Master Class and Senior Master Classes. The Steffi Nossen Dance Company will perform work by Alison Cook-Beatty, Caterina Rago, and Hannah Garner. Guest Artists of the Martha Graham 2 dance company will perform an excerpt from Appalachian Spring.
Incidental music pre and post concert will be provided by Colin Rose at the piano.
The 2-concert event will feature an abbreviated performance Wednesday, March 23 at 6:30 pm, with free admission to an invited audience of underserved and disabled Westchester residents affiliated with area community groups, day programs, and residences. On Thursday, March 24, the program will be repeated and followed by a Gala reception featuring lite fare, the music of Woody Guthrie played live by the band and a Silent Auction of Woody Guthrie memorabilia, themed baskets, and more. All proceeds will support the Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation mission of enlarging and enhancing dance access to all members of the Westchester community.
Event Location and Ticket Information
White Plains Performing Arts Center
11 City Place
White Plains, NY
Handicap Accessible? Yes
Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Times: 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm