Performing Diaspora 2009 Artist Announcement Press Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jessica Robinson, Executive Director

415-626-2060 or

CounterPULSE Announces Resident Artists for 2009 Performing Diaspora Program

San Francisco– From Kathak to Flamenco and from Tabla to Taiko, California is home to many diverse and talented practitioners of traditional performance. Despite this abundance, few opportunities exist for artists who wish to challenge, expand or experiment with their own traditional art forms. CounterPULSE’s Performing Diaspora is a festival, residency program, commissioning program, and symposium featuring dance, music, theater, media and interdisciplinary artists who are using traditional forms as a basis for experimentation and innovation.

“Innovation is a crucial element of Performing Diaspora, in more ways than one” says Robinson, “in bringing together 13 artists from across the State of California, we wanted to create an experience for audiences that would extend and build upon the anchor events of the Performing Diaspora Festival and Symposium in November. What we have created is unique – it’s a virtual residency that allows audience members to engage with the artists while they are still in the creative process.”

CounterPULSE is garnering the power of online social media to invite the audience and performing arts community to engage with the artists in dialogue and the creative process. Visitors to the Performing Diaspora site can pose questions of residents, engage in discussion, or simply watch the process unfold.

Executive Director Jessica Robinson sees the Performing Diaspora residency as a model for a new kind of residency program, and a new way to create an artistic community. “We hope that audiences throughout the state will engage with these artists—we’ll all have the chance to really understand the art and its context at a deep level.”

According to Robinson, “Hosting a statewide residency program provides CounterPULSE with new challenges, but also huge opportunities. Our artists will engage with their local communities as they develop their work, while they’ll also be getting feedback from each other and presenting their work online. Our website will host videos, photos, interviews, artists’ journals and lively discussions.”

Catherine Herrera, Performing Diaspora’s Program Coordinator, continues, “technology makes it possible to engage the audience in the creative process, inviting them to join the online conversation and shape how performance art is seen in the future. In this way, the impact of performance art is multi-layered.”

The thirteen performance artists selected for the Residency represent many of the state’s most exciting new voices at the intersection of traditional arts, contemporary performance and California’s changing demographics.

According to Robinson, “We were blown away by the overwhelmingly positive response we received, and by the quality and range of the applicants—it underlined the need for this program as traditional artists are pushing boundaries like never before. The performances developed at CounterPULSE will range from hip-hop-inspired Filipino folk dance to Greek rembetiko music with shadow puppets, to a political take on Nautanki a North Indian folk theater tradition. These aren’t museum pieces—this is living, breathing work and it will certainly challenge our concepts of tradition and innovation.”

Audiences and performing arts professionals will have the opportunity to attend two Work-in-Progress Shows at CounterPULSE in August and October to witness further the development of the works developed by the selected residents.

The impact of Performing Diaspora was shaped as well by the program’s experienced and well-respected curators, including Sherwood Chen of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Laura Elaine Ellis of the African and African American Performing Arts Coalition, and Debbie Smith of the Arab Cultural and Community Center. This team was chosen by Robinson to provide expert guidance throughout the application process, select the artists, and craft the content for the symposia and discussions. Learn about the project’s curator’s here.

Marc Vogl of the Hewlett Foundation, a lead contributor in the Performing Diaspora program, is clear about the value of the investment, “While there are many organizations and events that exist to preserve the artistic traditions of the region’s immigrant groups there are not enough outlets for artists to experiment and challenge the precepts of such cultural work. CounterPULSE’s dynamic leadership and stellar track record of supporting adventurous artists make the Hewlett Foundation proud to support the Performing Diaspora project.”

Sign up for Performing Diaspora updates, work-in-progress shows and advance ticket sales for the November Performing Diaspora Symposium and Festival, please visit the CounterPULSE website –

About CounterPULSE:

CounterPULSE provides space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture. CounterPULSE acts as a catalyst for art and action; creating a forum for the open exchange of art and ideas, catalyzing transformation in our communities and our society. We work towards a world that celebrates diversity of race, class, cultural heritage, artistic expression, ability, gender identity & sexual orientation. We strive to create an environment that is physically and economically accessible to everyone.

Important Dates:

Performing Diaspora Public Work-in-Progress Showings

Saturday, 8/29: 11am-2pm

Saturday, 8/29: 2:30-5:30pm

Sunday, 8/30: 12-3pm

Sunday, 10/18: 11am-2pm

Saturday, 10/24: 11am-2pm

Saturday, 10/24: 2:30-5:30pm

Dance Discourse Project #7: Performing Diaspora

Thursday, 11/15:7:30pm

Performing Diaspora Symposium

Saturday, 11/7, 10am-5:30pm

Performing Diaspora Festival


November 5-8, 12-15, and 19-22, 2009

The Performing Diaspora Program is made possible by support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Columbia Foundation, the James C. Irvine Foundation, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, the Ken Hempel Fund for the Arts, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, the San Francisco Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission and the members and supporters of CounterPULSE.