The New Utility

photo by Eric Falck

photo by Eric Falck

World Premiere of abandoned PLayground at the Abrons Arts Center April 13-15, 2017

Abandoned playground is an evening length event performed in the round that features 9 dancers traversing the space and engaging in the brutal yet rhythmic and precise action of hyper-physical dance. Citing her embodied practice of Afro-Diasporic dance forms and punk as pivotal forces on her sensibilities Abby Zbikowski (Asst Professor U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, American Dance Festival Faculty) creates works that pay homage to the effort of living, tactics of survival, and the aesthetics produced as a result. This new work foregrounds the necessity of mental and physical rigor in times of futility and in spaces vacated of their innocence. The dancers work through their personal histories via embodying specific movement sequences and complex, felt rhythms requiring unyielding focus, practice, and awareness, the effort of which is not masked onstage.

"'Doing it gets us all through it,' Ms. Zbikowski wrote in the program notes, and as you watch this passionate, punishing piece, you start to see what she means. TO rest would be to lose precious momentum." Read the rest of Siobhan Burke's NY Times review here...

"For anyone who, like myself, feels dance to the core, with empathy that draws you into the work, this playground offers a hardcore workout unlike any other. Or almost. Again, there's STREB. But what appears to be going on here--which separates this work from anything I've ever seen from STREB--is a comment on our threatening times and a call to toughen up in response. And that means you, audience, too. This is not mere spectacle. " -Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody. Read the rest of Eva's review here...





Artist Statement

I make contemporary dance works that pay homage to the effort of living, tactics of survival, and the aesthetics produced as a result, citing the of the embodied practice of Afro-Diasporic dance forms like hip-hop, as well as punk as a major influence on my sensibilities. My work reclaims the brutal rigor that goes into the practice and performance of hyper physical dance forms by shifting the mindset of the labor away from product and repositioining the choreographic work as a vehicle for transformation that welcomes failure as an inevitability on the path to growth. My creative process/practice with collaborative performers works towards re-imagining known outcomes and is meant to relentlessly challenge the systems we cling to for understanding. Our work exposes the obsessive practice that accompanies the mastery of complex physical tasks, and structurally builds upon the psyche-emotional growth that evolves as a byproduct of practice. 



Abby Zbikowski is a choreographer,  Assistant Professor of Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and on faculty at the American Dance Festival. Her choreographic work with her company, Abby Z and the New Utility, has been presented by the Gibney Dance Center, Movement Research at Danspace Project, and most recently the Abrons Arts Center where they had a sold out run of their latest piece, abandoned playground. She has been an artist in residence as part of the nEW Festival in Philadelphia, the American Dance Festival, and the Bates Dance Festival. Abby has studied intensively at Germaine Acogny's L'École de Sables in Senegal, holds a BFA in dance from Temple University and an MFA in dance from Ohio State University, where she worked closely with mentors Bebe Miller and Vickie Blaine. As a performer Abby has worked with Charles O. Anderson/Dance theater X, Vincent Mantsoe, and the Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project. She has been on faculty at the Ohio State University and has taught technique and creative process abroad at the Academy of Culture in Riga, Latvia as part of GPS (Global Practice Sharing) sponsored by Movement Research.