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A versatile range of contemporary choreographic work, in collaboration with live music by the NOW Ensemble, kicks off SCD’s 2018-2019 season. SCD+ NOW ENSEMBLE” is an evening-length performance, led by NOW composer Mark Dancigers and SCD artistic director and choreographer, Leymis Bolaños Wilmott. This live performance will feature a world premiere composition and choreographic work inspired by Joan of Arc, and, back by popular demand, a restaging of “Dreamfall,” co-choreographed by longtime company dancer, Xiao-Xuan Yang Dancigers.


Performances will be held at the Jane B. Cook Theater at the Florida State Performing Arts Center in Sarasota:  

Thursday, October 11 – Saturday, October 13, at 7:30pm; and

Sunday, October 14 at 2 pm.

(For tickets: or call 941.359.0099)


NOW Ensemble is a dynamic group of performers and composers, which recently celebrated their tenth year together as an ensemble. With a unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass, and piano, NOW brings a fresh sound and a new perspective to the classical tradition. They have gained both national and international recognition. NOW Ensemble’s performances have been featured on several NPR programs. NOW also has performed both nationally and internationally, including the Apples and Olives Festival in Zurich, Switzerland, Lincoln Center, and the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert series. Highlights of the 2017-18 season include premieres of new works. [Learn more about NOW Ensemble at the end of this release]


“Dreamfall” was the first SCD and NOW Ensemble collaboration commissioned by New Music New College five years ago (2013). “Dreamfall” will open the program transporting audiences into a heavenly realm highlighting the strength and beauty of the SCD dancers, led by the angelic and graceful Xiao-Xuan Yang Dancigers. SCD is thrilled to revisit this collaboration for our audiences and to help kick off our season of being “Rooted” in this community with our new home studio and offering another season subscription of exciting contemporary programming.


Closing the program will be the world premier of “Jeanne” a new work inspired by the story of Joan of Arc, a heroic figure and saint who is known by most audiences. Composer/Musician Mark Dancigers found himself intrigued by Joan’s first visit to a knight who might be able to take her to the King of France, whose reinstatement she is convinced she will bring about. She is rejected by the knight. Yet she persists and the second time she asks him, he is won over by her enthusiasm. It is recorded that she says to him:


“…I alone and no other person…can recover the kingdom.”

Ultimately, this serves as truth, as she inspires the French army to a key victory and leads a procession to re-crown the king, who had been more or less in exile.


“It’s the realization of her singular purpose or mission that I find so compelling,” Mark says. “I am inspired by imagining what that moment must have been like– or the days and months–as she realizes that she would become not just a soldier but THE soldier; that her purpose was to restore the King to his place and save her country, and that this job was solitary and hers alone.”

“Mark and I were both were in agreement,” says Leymis, “that we did not want to focus on her death, but rather aspects of her life because she is a heroic figure. Based on the manuscript from her trial, what she was asked and how she responded, Joan was also a pure example of women’s rights. She was fighting in a war before women were even allowed to, as well as cutting her hair, and dressing like a man. The SCD dancers and I are drawn to create choreography that celebrates Joan’s haracteristics. Our creative quest was to reflect in dance and music her faith, perseverance, and boldness to act on a vision.”




About Sarasota Contemporary Dance

Sarasota Contemporary Dance, Sarasota’s first contemporary dance company, was formed in 2002 as Fuzión Dance Artists by Co-Founders Leymis Bolaños Wilmott and Rachael Inman. Now approaching its 13th season, the company was renamed in 2015, and continues to bring dance to the community through eclectic performances and educational programming, while collaborating with artists and community groups to enrich the human experience.


NOW Ensemble is a dynamic group of performers and composers dedicated to making new chamber music for the 21st century. With a unique instrumentation of flute, clarinet, electric guitar, double bass, and piano, they have brought some of the most exciting composers of their generation to national and international recognition. NOW Ensemble’s performances have been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and live on WNYC, and its sophomore album “Awake” charted at #1 in Amazon’s Classical Chamber Music Charts. “Plan of the City,” NOW’s collaboration with filmmaker Joshua Frankel, was praised in the Washington Post as “one of the best matches of visuals to music I’ve seen.” Since 2004, NOW has worked with over 60 of today’s most exciting composers. In recent seasons, NOW has performed at the Apples and Olives Festival in Zurich, Switzerland, Town Hall Seattle, Da Camera Houston, Lincoln Center, the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert series, the Toledo Museum of Art, and in a cross-border collaboration in Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego CA with the tango group Cuatro para Tango. NOW Ensemble’s artistic director, Mark Dancigers, is a composer and electric guitarist who is Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Music at New College of Florida.



The musicians:


Aaron Wunsch, Piano

Praised for his bold interpretations and communicative sensitivity, pianist Aaron Wunsch appears regularly on concert stages throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. He has performed in Avery Fisher and Alice Tully Halls at Lincoln Center, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Royal Albert Hall in London, at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and as soloist with the Yale and Colonial symphonies, among others. A ten-city solo recital tour of China garnered critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience responses. Also lauded for his “masterful” chamber music performances (Hartford Courant), he has appeared at the Norfolk, Bowdoin, Sarasota, Great Lakes, and Yellow Barn chamber music festivals, collaborating in performance with great artists including cellist Lynn Harrell, clarinetist Charles Neidich, violinist Rolf Schulte, and the New York Woodwind Quintet. A vigorous proponent of contemporary music, he has worked closely with many renowned composers, including Charles Wuorinen, Steve Stucky, Chen Yi, Fred Lerdahl, and Kaija Saariaho, and has performed new works by Saariaho and John Adams during Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music.

Already an accomplished teacher, Mr. Wunsch is a faculty member at both the Juilliard School (Keyboard Studies, Music History, Graduate Studies) and at William Paterson University (Piano). He frequently lectures about American music, including at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, and is Artistic Director of the acclaimed Music Mondays concert series in New York City.


Erin Lesser, Flute

As a soloist, and chamber musician Erin has been described as “superb”, “excellent”, “brilliant” and “elegant”. She has travelled to prestigious venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ (Amsterdam) and Alice Tully Hall where she performed the American premiere of Morton Feldman’s For Flute and Orchestra with the Janacek Philharmonic. She has worked with some of the most prominent classical and popular artists today including Steve Reich, Beat Furrer, Helmut Lachenmann, Pierre Boulez, John Luther Adams, Charles Wuorinen, and David Lang, and experimental groups like Medeski Martin and Wood, and the Dirty Projectors. As a recording artist, Erin can be heard on Nonesuch, Cantaloupe, Carrier, Hat[now] Art, New Focus, Aeon, New Amsterdam, Albany and Capstone Record labels.


Erin is a founding member of the Argento Chamber Ensemble and was featured on the group’s award winning recording Winter Fragments; music of Tristan Murail. She won the 2008 National Flute Association chamber music competition with her flute and percussion duo, Due East. Ms. Lesser is a Pearl Flute Performing Artist.



Nicholas Gallas, Clarinet

Clarinetist Nicholas Gallas has performed as a guest with a diverse range of artists and ensembles, including NOW Ensemble, the Imani Winds, Argento Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, the Knights, Decoda, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra, American Ballet Theater, the Britt Festival Orchestra, and many others. He has also taught and performed in Mexico with Cultures in Harmony, an international cultural diplomacy project.


He has performed on Broadway in the orchestras for The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and Sunset Boulevard, and has toured the U.S. with singer-songwriter, Duncan Sheik. Additionally, he can been heard on the soundtracks for the film Besa, scored by Philip Glass and the Spike Lee film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, scored by Bruce Hornsby.


Gallas received his Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School and his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.


John Miller, Bass

John Miller is the principal bassist of the Sarasota Orchestra. He received degrees from James Madison University and a Masters in Music from Peabody Conservatory. He was also a fellow with the New World Symphony in Miami, FL. In addition to his work with the orchestra, John is an active jazz performer and renowned teacher in the greater Sarasota region.


Mark Dancigers, Electric Guitar

Mark Dancigers is a composer of chamber, orchestral, film, and solo instrumental works, and the electric guitarist for the new-chamber music group NOW Ensemble. Praised for his “entrancing” music in the New York Times, Dancigers creates scores that are melodically driven, texturally imaginative, and sonically vibrant. He holds degrees in music from Yale, the Yale School of Music, and Princeton University, and is Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Music at New College of Florida.


He scored the film “The Measure of All Things” by Oscar nominated director Sam Green, which premiered at the Sundance Festival with live soundtrack performed by yMusic. The film score has been performed subsequently in the Netherlands, Greece, the U.K., and venues around the United States. Dancigers also co-scored, with Troy Herion, the feature documentary “The Dog” about the life John Wojtowicz, the subject of “Dog Day Afternoon”.


Dancigers has collaborated with New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck for a pas de deux called “The Bright Motion”. He has also collaborated with New York City Ballet choreographer Troy Schumacher and his group Ballet Collective on a pas de deux, “The Last Time This Ended”. The latter was praised in the Huffington Post as “creeping, majestic, and fantastical; it feels textured, like if you could touch the music, it would prick you.”


Mark Dancigers’ music has been performed at the the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao Spain, Apples and Olives Festival in Zurich, the Nordernzon Performing Arts Festival in the Netherlands, The Athens Concert Hall, Greece, Sydney, Australia, Carnegie Hall, Miller Theater, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, BargeMusic, the Kitchen NYC, Arts Brookfield at the Brookfield Place Winter Garden, the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, the Skaneateles Festival, and numerous other venues.


His orchestra music has been performed by the Alabama, Minnesota, Cabrillo, and New York Youth Symphony Orchestras.


As an album producer, his credits include pianist Michael Mizrahi’s “Currents” (2016) and “The Bright Motion” (2012), which made the Top Ten Best Classical Releases of 2012 in both Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago.

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