Juliana F. May
Family Happiness

May 3-13, 2023

Performances will take place in the Playhouse at Abrons Arts Center.

Co-Commissioned and Co-Presented with Abrons Arts Center.

Family Happiness continues May’s decade-long investigation into body control and the complicated system of victimhood and perpetration. Pitting Post-Modern and Modernist choreographic strategies such as task and symbolism against pop cultural references of the 80s and 90s, this dance- text-song triptych delivers a space for culpability and catharsis.

“I worked on the beginning ideas of the piece during the pandemic in Tel Aviv where my partner has family. I am a choreographer, but there is a lot of text in my work. I wrote this project “treatment” on the tails of a dream I had about my father committing suicide and trump losing the election. There’s a figure of a boy who looks like a scarecrow next to a pitch fork, a bird and a half moon. He passes by the dog beach, the separate beach, the smoking beach and eventually arrives at the sex beach.There are hundreds of naked people sitting on top of each other with legs intertwined in a series of eights. The dogs migrate over to the sex beach. Peripheral backward strokes follow a lunging and spreading and in an instant, the animals start to bite and peel skin away from bone, prying the upper extremities down towards the sand while the genitals remain connected like a roundabout on a playground. There is a rising smoke from the skinning like Christ being prepped with a soldering iron. The bodies smell like cocaine, synthetic cotton or some kind of polyblend as they thrash around in the sand trying to free themselves from each locked jaw. They get close to the water and almost break free but realize they don’t know how to surf.” Family Happiness activates a disruptive and comedic space, exposing the titillation of post modernism’s detached aesthetics and its unbearable absurdity.

Written, directed, and choreographed by Juliana F. May. Performed by Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, Lucy Kaminksky, Molly Poerstel, and Kayvon Pourazar. Original songs by Juliana F. May in collaboration with the performers. Music Composition by Tatyana Tenenbaum. Lighting Design by Chloe Z. Brown. Costumes by Mariana Valencia.

“Review: Dispassionate Traumas and Choral Dream Songs” – Brian Seibert, New York Times

“I was sitting in my seat when I saw a sensation” – Amit Noy, The Brooklyn Rail