Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program

EMERGENYC, the Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program, trains emerging New York-based artists through a yearly program of workshops, lectures and other events. We work with young artist-activists who see their work as a vehicle for political expression and social change and who share a vision of New York City and its five boroughs as a portal to hemispheric artistic practices, identities and histories. With an emphasis on activist performance and drawing on the experience of distinguished artists, activists and scholars, the program encourages participants to take interdisciplinary leaps, mix styles and traditions, and develop incisive new work at the intersection of performance and politics.

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Emerge NYC 2012 Student Performances at La MaMa

EMERGENYC 2012 - Artivist Performance

Program Description

The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University is now in its fifth year of EMERGENYC,the Hemispheric New York Emerging Performers Program focused on “artivist” (artist/activist) performance. EMERGENYC aims to support the development of “hemispheric” artists through a program of workshops and events between April 28 and July 14, 2012 (see our Schedule of Events for details). We work with talented, committed and highly motivated young performers/activists/artists whose work functions as a vehicle for political expression and social change, and who examine the broad range of identities, practices and histories of the Americas (the western hemisphere, thus “hemispheric”) through genres such as spoken word, street performance, political cabaret, performance art, video performance, movement, and others.

Why Hemispheric New York?


New York City is a space of transformation in which expressive practices from throughout the Americas come into contact and combine into new artistic forms. The constant encounters and collisions of African-, Native-, Asian-, Latino- and European- American cultures that define the City, combined with the multiple political and counter-cultural movements that have flourished on its streets, are a key source of the artistic and activist innovation that has long characterized New York City. Experimental performance, hip-hop and salsa are powerful examples of the hemispheric fusions that the City’s neighborhoods have incubated. Subversive media interventions, such as those created by the Yes Men,artistic interventions such as the Guerilla Girls and Fulana’s If You Fear Something, You’ll See Something poster campaign are examples of innovative conjunction of art and political protest. Drawing on this vitality, the program will enable young activists/performers to work with leading practitioners in the field, to take interdisciplinary leaps, and to develop their own strategies to use performance for social change.

 The Program


Between April and July, participants will take part in weekly workshops led by George Emilio Sánchez as well as by invited artists such as Susana Cook, Fulana, Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men, Pamela Sneed, Peggy Shaw (Split Britches), Dan Fishback, Daniel Alexander Jones, Patricia Hoffbauer, Deb Levine (ACT UP), and others. This year will also include a teach-in on Performance (“PerforWHAT?”) led by Hemispheric Institute Founding Director and NYU University Professor Diana Taylor. (We are in conversations with other artists and activists for additional workshops/presentations—check for updates). We ask applicants to define social issues that are important to them and to find a bridge to communities around those issues. Past participants have explored themes of racism, racial stereotypes, and racial violence; LGBTQ rights; war and human rights; gender and sexuality; religion; and gentrification, among others. They have created performance pieces around these issues, interviewed members of various communities, and led workshops in community programs (such as GLOBE/Make the Road New York), etcetera.

The program is divided into three phases. Phase 1:every Saturday 10am-2pm from April 28th to May 26th, participants work closely with George Emilio Sánchez in developing performance and activist strategies, such as Boalian techniques, performance art and site-specific interventions. Phase 2:intensivedaily sessions (10am-5pm) from May 27th- June 3rd, participants work closely with leading activists, artists and scholars, and explore specific tactics for work in the field (street performance, interviewing, videotaping, seeing other people’s work, etc.). Phase 3: Saturdays June 9th - July 14th participants refine their work for a final presentation, building on the strategies explored through the workshops. Performance presentations (evening of Tuesday, June 26th): participants share their strategies, performances, and experiences in a public forum.

Who Is Eligible

EMERGENYC is designed for emerging activists/artists/performers who live in (or can easily commute to) New York City. Applicants must have prior experience in activism and/or various performance genres. The program welcomes applications from individuals enrolled in the City’s colleges and universities AND from those who are not currently pursuing formal higher education.

This Year's Cohort

The 2012 EMERGENYC participants are:

Alex Blisset
Anoushka Ratnarajah
Benjamin Lundberg
Carlos Monroy
Chris Tyler
Denae Hannah
Dennis RedMoon Darkeem
Dominic Bradley
Getenesh Berhe
Jesse Phillips-Fein
Kirya Traber
Kyla Searle
Marcelitte Failla
Polina Porras
Sacred Walker
Samantha Galarza
Sara Lyons
Rebecca Nagle
Santiago Venegas

This is what some EMERGENYC alumni have had to say about the program:


mrc_emergenyc11_kai_SM"EMERGENYC was such an important experience for me—both in the short term view of last year and in the long term view of my development as an artist and an activist. Last year was tough in a lot of ways, in part because it was such a big transitional year—my first year out of college, my first time living on my own. It was really easy to feel lost in all of that. EMERGENYC came at the perfect time: I found myself in a community of artists who were focusing on asking big questions about discrimination and identities and how to use performance to address both. Suddenly I had a supportive group of people encouraging me to try new things and challenging me to think more creatively and radically about power, politics, and performance. That community was incredibly important, and I plan to keep working with people from the program in the future. In many ways EMERGENYC fundamentally changed the way I think about my work. That's probably the biggest long-term gift that the program gave me: the ability to root my work as an artist in my activism. For a long time I've struggled to unite the two; at times I even thought that I had to pursue either one or the other. Emerge also helped me think about new possibilities for "artivism" in performance and to start thinking about what I can do now, with the resources that I have at the moment. There's really no other program like this."

"EMERGENYC was the artistic and political opportunity I needed to start getting myself together as an artist and activist. I met people around the city doing amazing, fierce, and interesting work. I was pushed to hold myself to the vision I had for a better and more just world. It inspired me to see myself as part of a long tradition of creators and people who use art to challenge the status quo. Since EMERGENYC, I've stayed in touch with both the other students in the program as well as the teaching staff - EMERGENYC was a chance to work with legends in the field, artists I've always admired, and learn from them. I couldn't recommend it enough for people who are looking for a thoughtful and challenging artistic experience."


Emerge_09_Talk_SM"I had an incredible time as a participant of EMERGENYC. Prior to the few months we spent together, I had never spent so much time with other artists. I really forged some strong bonds with some of the members, and have done shows with a few already, my art has been strengthened immensely. The only true way for me to sum up my experience is to say that I have never undergone so many transformations in such a short amount of time. I found my artistic voice as an adult in EMERGENYC, and that has been invaluable (and needs to be replicated in every city). I can't wait to give something back to this program."


 EMERGENYC 2012 is supported by funds from the Rockefeller Foundation's Cultural Innovation Fund.