Cornfield Dance at the Harkness Dance Festival 2019 92nd Street Y - 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY

  • Friday March 29th @8PM

  • Saturday March 30th @4PM and 8PM

  • Tickets: *$15, $35, $40

  • *$15 “XYZ” for 40 & under - must register (free)

More information here

Choreography: Ellen Cornfield

Composer: Andreas Brade

Musicians: Andreas Brade, Robert Boston, Duke Guillame

Costumes: Aaron Booher, Andrew Jordan, Karen Young

Video: Andrew Jordan, Grant Worth

Dancers: Alexandra Berger, Pierre Guilbault, Ruth Howard, Vanessa Knouse Cori Kresge, Logan Pedon, Joshua Tuason, Mac Twining

Cornfield Dance - an exhilarating explosion of emotion in motion!

“Ellen Cornfield is one of our most inventive pure abstract dance makers.”

Joan Finkelstein: Executive Director Harkness Foundation for Dance

Cornfield Dance is honored to be participating in the Harkness Dance Festival, focused this year to be part of the 2019 global celebration of Merce Cunningham’s birth.

The company will be presenting two repertory works, Pas de Detour (2016) and Close-Up (2017) along with the world premier of Portal (2019), performed by the eight formidable dancers gathered for these performances.

Pas de Detour is a richly physical work that combines robust and voracious movements traveling at breakneck speed with an elegant and sensuous dance language. This work physicalizes the idea of obstacles in our lives that detour and derail us, be they our emotions or life events. The dancing is accompanied by live and prerecorded music of ricocheting rhythms and sonorous soundscapes. The brightly colored geometries of the dancers’ costumes are coordinated with the video projected on the black backdrop curtain. These elements all combine to create a magical and theatrical universe. The original version of Pas de Detour, choreographed for four dancers, was shortened and expanded to include eight dancers during a Cornfield Dance residency at Rutgers University in 2016. This is the version being performed.

Luscious and playful, Close-Up moves from the grand to the intimate, from the excitement of an explosive leap to the call of a beckoning finger, bringing the viewers “close up” to the eight dancers and their activity. For the Harkness performances, Cornfield is rearranging the dance material from the original stage work in a number of significant ways. Cornfield’s structuring of this work was inspired by her company’s performance at the Yale Center for British Art in 2018, where the company performed the material in five small gallery rooms all at the same time. For the 92Y’s performances, there are several points where these condensed versions are presented side by side in the main space, at the same time. Additionally, the dancers will perform in the large main space as well as at several times during the piece on the small raised stage.

Cornfield envisions this presentation as an homage to Merce, whose tradition of presenting “Events,” made up of bits of material from different dances put together for a unique performance and adaptable to alternative venues, were an embrace of the unexpected.

In the new work Portal, Cornfield discovers and juxtaposes emotional doorways and openings, using movement as the language, and creating a microscopic mapping of the intangible, our inner life and our emotional patterns. She aims to physicalize iconic emotional rhythms in order to track and describe our behavior and feelings. Performed by seven dancers, the material is organized to wend its way through human character into movement abstraction, from the quotidian to the sacred, through struggles into calm. Portal connotes the passageway from a state of agitation to a state of peace. The music for this piece features the structured improvisation of Andreas Brade, Robert Boston, and jazz saxophonist Duke Guillame.

Each of these dances defines its own world, and the beautiful and expansive Buttenwieser Hall at the 92nd Street Y provides a delightful and unique container in which they will be seen.

About Ellen Cornfield and Cornfield Dance

Ellen Cornfield began working as a choreographer in New York City in the 1980’s, and established her company Cornfield Dance in 1989. She has brought her elegant, robust and at times quirky choreography to new audiences worldwide through performances in theaters, universities, and public spaces. As Artistic Director of Cornfield Dance, she has taught and performed with her company throughout the U.S., and in Japan, England, Holland, Germany, France, Poland, and Russia. In NYC her work has been presented by Danspace Project, The Harkness Dance Festival, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors among many others. Cornfield’s works have also been performed in non-traditional and outdoor venues including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, and in NYC at Elizabeth Street Garden, Battery Park, and Bryant Park.

Cornfield has taught at many of the world’s major dance institutions, including North Carolina School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, and in Europe (where Cornfield lived for 15 months in the 80’s) at The Laban Centre and The Place in London, the Rotterdam Dansacademie in Holland, and for various European dance companies.

Cornfield has received numerous commissions and funding for her work from both private and government sources, and has set works on professional companies and universities, including two pieces created on the Jose Limón Dance Company during a two-week MANCC residency in 2008. She recently received a four-week Baryshnikov Arts Center Space Residency for late March through early April 2019, divided into a two-week rehearsal period followed by a two week video project of her work Portal that premieres during the Festival.

During her early years in New York, as a young dancer, Cornfield performed with the Merce Cunningham Company 1974 – 1982, earning a reputation as one of the foremost Cunningham dancers of her generation, was in the original casts of his works during that time, and in all of his early video works. She was on the teaching staff at Merce’s studio from 1972 - 2003.


92Y Harkness Dance Center is named in recognition of the ongoing generosity of the Harkness Foundation for Dance. Major funding is also provided by Jody and John Arnhold; Howard Gilman Foundation; and Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Additional support is provided by Sharon and Jon Corzine; Leo Oppenheimer and Flora Oppenheimer Haas Foundation; Paul and Melinda B. Pressler; and Jerome Robbins Foundation.

Public support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Support for Cornfield Dance from: The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, & Donors to Cornfield Dance.