Every day Kickstarter features a project in each one of its categories. Today CPD10 will be featured in DANCE. It’s a huge honor to be chosen to be featured among so many amazing projects. Check out the page and support live performance by backing the CPD10 Kickstarter Project.
Cats Paying Dues has been extremely blessed to work with amazing creative collaborators throughout our history. From our production designer Rob Harari, to various musical directors including Tommy James and Gregg Kallor, and this season composer/musician Max ZT, our collaborators have been an integral part of bringing our work to life. We’re so happy to welcome lighting designer Nicholas Houfek to the team for CPD10. Nicholas came to us highly recommended and just about saved the day during a production of Echoes In Time last season. He returns to us for CPD10 and the World Premiere of Three Tap Dance Suites. Check out Nicholas’s bio below. We’re super excited about having him with us for our 10th Anniversary.
Nicholas Houfek is a NYC based Lighting Designer working in Music, Theater, and Dance. Mr. Houfek has worked with SoPercussion (Lincoln Center Festival and Carnegie Hall,) The Bang on a Can All-Stars (Carnegie Hall) and ICE (Mostly Mozart, Miller Theater, Roulette, BAC.) His work in Theater and Dance include: The Play about My Dad, The Momentum (Collaboration Town),The Capables, (Gym at Judson), Coney (The New Ohio), Take Me Back (Walkerspace), Travis and the Brazen Women (ARSNOVA),unFRAMED, (John Jay College, SoloNova), Caucasian Chalk Circle (PPAS), Ian Spencer Bell Dance, William Isaac’s Kymera Dance,The 39 Steps (Olney Theatre Center). Co-Lighting Designs include: Natalie Merchant Tour 2014, Li’l Buck and YoYo Ma at (le) Poussin Rouge and the art installation Pharmacaphore with choreography by Silas Reiner at The Storefront for Art and Architecture. Tours with Natalie Merchant, Martha Graham, ArmitageGone! Dance, Deborah Hay, 360º Dance, and Jonah Bokaer as Lighting Supervisor. As an Assistant he has worked for New York City Ballet, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Lincoln Center Festival and Fall for Dance at NYCC. Graduate of Boston University.
A special thanks for everyone who came out to the Kickstarter Launch Party at East Village Social this past Monday. Hosted by the Quarterly Arts Soiree, we had an awesome time with company members Mallory Davis, Jason Stump, Allie Pizzo, and Jess Gersony (and past members Claudia Rahardjanoto and Gemini Quintos!!!).
The night started with vintage CPD clips running on the bar’s TV. Footage from All For Love and Cats In Concert, as well as this clip from Max and Andrew’s first duo collaboration all made it to the big screen.
Then it got live with Max ZT and Luke Notary of House of Waters playing an awesome set with Andrew J. Nemr – a little teaser of what’s to come with our CPD10 collaboration. Members of CPD PLUS took over the floor during the night, filling EVS with tap dancing. The sound was so good, people walking by stopped in just to see what was going on!!
Food from EVS’s full kitchen was delicious and provided care of our hosts at the Quarterly Arts Soiree!!!
And so it was at the end of the night – Luke Notary, Allie Pizzo, Jess Gersony, Andrew Nemr, Jason Stump, Max ZT, and Mallory Davis. Thanks again to everyone for coming by, and don’t forget to check out the CPD10 Kickstarter Project.
Are you in the New York City area? Come and join us as we celebrate the launch of our Kickstarter Campaign. We will be gathering at East Village Social (EVS) for an evening of revelry, music, and dance. Andrew will perform with Max ZT, giving a taste of what’s to come when CPD joins with House of Waters. Members of CPD will also perform. Clips of CPD performances from the archives will play on the bar’s television throughout the evening, and iPads will be available for you to use to back the kickstarter project right there at the bar.
East Village Social
126 Saint Marks Street
ESV has a full kitchen (table reservations requested) and bar.
We’re live on Kickstarter TODAY!! Join us in bringing Three World Premiere Tap Dance Suites to life. By joining us in our 10th Anniversary Celebration you will become an integral part of this very special occasion. Backer perks range from tickets to the show, regular producer’s notes from rehearsals, invitation only receptions and talk-backs, and even a private rehearsal viewing just for you!!
As you may know, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding platform, so if we don’t make our goal of $25,000 by November 26th, we won’t receive any of the funds.
This celebration is bigger than just the company and it’s current members. It encompasses the past 10 years – every rehearsal, every dance, every company member, every audience we ever performed for – and that includes each and every one of you.
In just a few days we will be launching our first ever Kickstarter campaign. We want you to join us in bringing our 10th Anniversary Season to life. We will be presenting three brand new suites – a first for the company – including a special collaboration with Max ZT and House of Waters.
We will be creating Three World Premiere Tap Dance Suites:
A Return to Love – a brand new suite harkening back to the days of All For Love. The many shades that color the pursuit of love return in this suite that evokes the emotions that first brought Cats Paying Dues to the stage.
First Instruments – The voice and percussive dance are among the earliest of instruments and combine to produce sounds that are both ancient and timeless. First Instruments is a trip through rhythms and lyrics that echo the equally ancient and timeless questions of love, humanity, and the divine.
In the House of Waters – A world premiere collaboration with Max ZT and House of Waters brings together the unique sensibilities of artistic director Andrew J Nemr and hammered dulcimer virtuoso and composer Max ZT. Nemr’s choreography will bring new arrangements of Max ZT’s unique compositions to life as Cats Paying Dues dancers add another layer of physicality and percussion to music influenced by Indian and Senegalese traditions. Max ZT and House of Waters will perform live.
We’re going big, and we want to share the experience with you!
There are many reactions to the name Cats Paying Dues – ranging from “Say that again?” to “Nice one,” accompanied by either a look of confusion or a knowing grin. Often times the hearing of the name is followed by the probing questions, “what made you choose that?” “what does it mean?” or “why did you pick that name?”
Well, this is why:
There are a number of exercises to finding names – expecting parents are well familiar with these, as are entrepreneurs – and somewhere in the stack of boxes there exists a piece of paper that was used in one such exercise. While searching for a name, the founding members of CPD knew that it had to be hip and also evoke the personal intention they shared as students of the craft. They also looked for words that included at least some of their initials (AN, NY, MD). These are the words that eventually surfaced.
Cats – To be a Cat in the jazz world is to be on the inside, to be in the know, to be hip to the happenings. Although no one really uses the complete vernacular including cats and kittens anymore, the term ‘cat’ has indeed survived in the depths of the verbal culture of jazz musicians. The founding members of CPD had an affinity for the term, having been on the scene and around many of the masters for years before getting together. Thankfully, the company itself has continued to be an entryway to the depths of the craft, creating cats through the experience.
Paying Dues – From the very beginning the old cats would say to the younger generation, “You’ve got to pay your dues.” Henry LeTang once warned Andrew about artists who had risen to notoriety without having paid such dues, and their inability to sustain their craftwork, let alone their career. The phrase was a cornerstone of many conversations: a generation of young dancers not knowing that paying dues was part of the process; the lack of venues in which dues could be paid; the lack of mentors to guide dancers through the process of paying their dues. All these frustrations centered around the theme of paying one’s dues. So it was that CPD would become a place that dancers who wanted to pay their dues would be drawn to. The rehearsal room and the stage would be literal spaces for such work, and the company family provide dancers with the guidance needed throughout the process.
And so the idea that was formed at a kitchen table in Harlem now had a name.
Before the Beginning
In 2004 Cats Paying Dues was just barely a figment in the imagination of Artistic Director, Andrew Nemr. Savion Glover’s TiDii, a company of which Andrew was a founding member, was on the tail end of its existence; Andrew’s mentor Gregory Hines had passed away the year before; and Andrew was searching. Searching for what he wanted to do next, or more precisely what he should do next. Andrew was searching for guidance, and it came in multiple forms. Andrew knew that he wanted to dance with other people – the danceable ideas in his head mandated more than one dancer, and his time in TiDii cemented the positive aspects of the ensemble as an idea. ‘What kind of ensemble?’ would be the next question that needed to be answered. This was answered by Jimmy Slyde as he recounted his time with Sir Slide (Jimmy Mitchell – Slyde’s partner in the Slide Brothers) during a presentation at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Andrew was there to here Jimmy Slyde talk about having four-and-a-half red hot minutes…and 2 minutes in reserve, just in case the audience asked for an encore. Andrew also came across this video of the Miller Brothers and Lois, inspiring the idea of a trio. Who would the other dancers be? One of the other members of TiDii was the amazing Michelle Dorrance. She had introduced Andrew to the equally phenomenal Nicholas Young years before (Nicholas was the first person Andrew saw execute a one-footed 5-sound wing), and Nicholas was currently in the New York cast of STOMP. Andrew asked for a meeting.
The Kitchen Table in Harlem
The meeting took place with Andrew, Michelle, and Nicholas, around the kitchen table of a Harlem, NY, apartment. There was brainstorming, dreaming, and a just little dancing involved. There was excitement about the possibility of bringing something red hot (as per Jimmy Slyde’s story) to the stage. And so it began…