Frequently powerful...striking display of stormy passions.?The New York Times
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The Soul Project 2011

selected work

Versailles Undone 2014
Versailles Undone 2014 references the French Revolution and the decline of the monarchy and is loosely based on the fictional novel Farewell My Queen, by Chantal Thomas. The gap between rich and poor and the social unrest around inequality both historically and in contemporary society form part of the exploration in the work. Baroque Dance inform the physicality of the piece and hanging ropes are used throughout as a metaphor for merrymaking, execution and as a lifeline for the destitute.

Reflex 2014
Reflex 2014 When people interact--through body, mind, and speech--layers of emotion rise to the surface and then fall again. Reflex makes manifest this cause and effect: The push and pull of the muscles, manipulated joints, elbows and knees, and the articulation of the limbs together create a metaphor for speech. In June this year, we premiered Reflex aka Layers as part of the Black Box Festival in Plovdiv Bulgaria, supported in part by the American Embassy.

Weathered 2012
The entire company is featured in this highly physical work evoking atmospheric conditions, a work that turns concepts of slippage, displacement, resistance into a metaphor for the harmony and chaos of life. "Weathered" is an exploration of our loss of control over the forces of nature and of how those forces belie the illusion of our permanent place on this planet.

This dance was created in association with the Brooklyn Zen Center in a series of open rehearsals in which meditation plays a fundamental role. Mindfulness informs the project by listening and responding, the choreographer utilized audience feedback. The cast includes, Lucie Baker, Courtney Drasner, Marcos Duran, Jenni Hong and Josh Palmer.

The Soul Project 2011
Erica Essner Performance Co-Op takes on the notion of the “soul” from philosophical and religious perspectives. Members of the cast explore the definition of the soul as related to their personal experience. Creating a series of movement tableaus that speak to an age of religious ideology and the symbols that are used to move people toward an uncertain cause. This project was created in part at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in collaboration with the cast.

Moon Uprising 2009
Moon Uprising 2009 featuring live music by composer Miguel Frasconi. Intricate partnering and expressionism define this new quartet performed to glass instruments and analog electronics. This project was created in part at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center in Tivoli New York as part of a residency.

There is a remarkable fluidity governing Essner's phrasing; her movement sequences connect so organically that one's eyes remain forever married to the seamless choreographic action. —Lisa Jo Sagolla, Backstage Blog

You Go, I Go 2007
This new work is a playful and intense dance featuring dancers tangled up, and upside down, in forceful dialogue. The piece explores cause and effect in the context of anatomical parts. Featuring company dancers, LoMa Familar, Jenni Hong Akiko Furukawa, Paul Singh, and Hannah Seidel. YOU GO, I GO is performed to music composed by Gustavo Santaolalla whose guitar music features traditional Argentinean music infused with polyrhythm and harmonic overtones. (Total time 14 minutes)

"You Go, I Go" evokes a communal atmosphere and a spiritual tone as its five dancers form a tight-knit clump, touching and dancing together, passing movement impulses from one to another, impulses that grow increasingly rough and antagonistic as the piece progresses. —Backstage Blog

Back to Tijuca
BACK TO TIJUCA was created in residency at The Rio de Janeiro Choreographic Center and created in collaboration with Brazilian dancers. A series of spicy duets set to a score by Barbatugues, whose music explores percussion on the human body. (Total time 11 minutes)

"Back to Tijuca," an inventive group piece for transient couples, was consistently, unself-consciously quirky in the best way. —The New York Times

Fractured Tango 2005
This trio is a study of contorted shapes, set to an original score by Erik Ian Walker. The music is influenced by Argentine tango and the dance is an exploration of the limits and strengths of the moving body. The dance is both expressionistic and over the top, creating an atmosphere that is high tension. (Running time 8 minutes)

Set to a frisky tango-cum-castanets score by Erik Ian walker, Essner's trio envisioned divas without partners. This opening grew into an extreme art of tension and flourishes that murdered any lingering hope of romance. —The Village Voice

Tongues & Limbs 2005
This duet was created at The yard in Martha's Vineyard this summer as part of the Bessie Schonberg Choreographers' Residency. Featuring company member Ben Rasmussen and Wen-shaun Yang, performed to an original India-inspired score by company composer, Erik Ian Walker. Tongues and Limbs explores the nature of conversation in all its aspects, physical, emotional, and non-verbal. This dance has not yet premiered in New York.
(Total time 11 minutes)

Falling from Stillness (2003)
Influenced by the choreographer's Zen Buddhist practice, this work reflects on meditation and chaos. Created in collaboration with composer Miguel Frasconi, this piece is performed to live music. Frasconi plays a set of struck and bowed water-tuned glass vessels. (Total time 8 minutes)

...the performers appeared to be stepping through an enchanted place to the accompaniment of a lovely chiming score for glass bowls struck and rubbed by Miguel Frasconi... —Jack Anderson, The New York Times

Stop/Motion (2003)
STOP/MOTION represents an exploration for the company in rhythm and variation and is set to a driving score by Steve Reich. Continuos movement , highfying lifts and repeating motifs best describe this power-packed piece. (Total time 12 minutes)

Refuge (2002)
REFUGE which premiered at the Joyce SoHo and employs a wall where the dancers press up against, scale and lean creating a three-dimensional dance. REFUGE is a reflection on the social and spiritual questions that arise from acts of war. (Running time 20 minutes)

The title piece a group dance full of falling and catching, set to accordion waltzes and an urgent mix of Bedouin drums and clanging bells-conveys the refuges we invent for ourselves in times of war and terror. ...The dancers hips gyrate like machine guns; their hands open and close like hungry mouths. —The New Yorker

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