Interactive Performance Pioneers Troika Ranch Named Visiting Artists-in-Residence at Holy Cross

Company to create interactive performance for College and Worcester community

Troika Ranch, an internationally renowned ensemble that fuses dance, theatre and technology, has been named visiting artists-in residence at the College of the Holy Cross. The company comprised of Dawn Stoppiello, choreographer and dancer, and Mark Coniglio, composer and media artist, has, over their 21 year career together, produced 13 major works that integrate live performance with cutting edge interactive technology.  The co-founders (or artists) create contemporary, hybrid artworks through an ongoing examination of the moving body and its relationship to technology. Their residency is hosted by Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), an initiative designed to infuse the fine and performing arts in students’ academic lives and create new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community by transcending cultural, geographic and disciplinary boundaries.

The 2015-16 theme for ATB is “Gravity and Grace: The Intersection of Art and Science” “I have been a long-time fan of Troika Ranch as they are superb artists, innovators, and educators and are recognized world-wide as pioneers of interactive performance” explains Lynn Kremer, professor of theatre and director of Arts Transcending Borders.” “Troika Ranch is the perfect blend for ATB artists-in-residence, they are certain to inspire our faculty, students, and community.” “Swarm,” the company’s new work that has been under development since 2013, will receive its premiere at the culmination of their fall 2015 residency. “Swarm” is informed by principles of emergence — the underlying systems that oversee the flocking of birds and other natural phenomena and will rely on audience participation to make an evening length “media opera.”

“We are especially eager to share ‘Swarm,’ as it will be developed in the Holy Cross theatre department. It is sure to be visually, aurally, and spatially unique,” adds Professor Kremer. Among the sites being considered for rehearsals and performances of “Swarm” is the Sprinkler Factory, an artist space and gallery on 38 Harlow Street in Worcester.

“In ‘Swarm,’ we will use an advanced tracking technology to allow the movements of the audience, who share the space with the dancers, to directly influence the choreography performed by the dancers among them. In other words, the piece cannot be performed without the active participation of the audience” says Coniglio.

Coniglio says we live in a time where everyone is an author. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media stream, many of us now are content producers, curators or both. The production will acknowledge this, and invite the audience to join in the authorship of the work. The difference is that the audience (or co-authors) will be able to look into each other's eyes because they will be physically present to each other, rather than from behind a computer.

The technology used in the program was created by Coniglio and is called Isadora. The software allows creation and manipulation of stunning visuals, sonic environments, and media-intensive theatrical experiences. This technology has been used by many performers and organizations including Francis Ford Coppola, Pamela Z (composer/performer and media artist who works primarily with voice, live electronic processing, sampled sound, and video), the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Wooster Group, the Museum of Modern Art, and Cirque du Soleil.

Troika Ranch continues to build upon a “body of work” that fosters many points of contact with the public - through the creation, presentation and touring of collaborative, multi-media performances, installations and films; its annual intensive workshop on live-media collaboration; and through publications and lectures on the history of live-media performance.  The name Troika Ranch refers to its founders' creative methodology, which involves a hybrid of three artistic disciplines, dance/theater/media (the Troika), in cooperative artistic interaction (the Ranch). Their artistry and creativity have won them many awards, including a highly coveted “Bessie” award which is given for exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition and visual design from the NY Dance and Performance League.

Cristina Pato, Galician bagpiper, pianist, composer, and a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble was the first ATB artist-in-residence  at the College. ‘Time, Memory, and Identity” was the theme of Pato’s residency throughout the 2014-15 academic year. During her time at the College she participated in a series of workshops, master classes, public lectures and performances that provided students with a unique opportunity for interaction and learning.

Arts Transcending Borders is an initiative is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.