EMPAC Announces New Dance and Theater Curator
EMPAC is pleased to announce the appointment of Ash Bulayev as its new curator for dance and theater. From the early 1990s in New York City, Bulayev was active in the theater and dance community as an artist, administrator, activist, and producer. For the past 10 years he has worked as an independent curator and producer with a broad range of European institutions at the cross section of performing arts, new media, and research in collaborative processes.
Director Johannes Goebel said “Over the first decade of planning and moving EMPAC to its current unique platform for performing arts, media, and research, Rensselaer was fortunate to have had a strong curatorial team that shaped and established EMPAC’s program in such an outstanding way. Now that the founding generation of curators has moved on to new frontiers, we are enthusiastic that Ash Bulavev joins our team with his vast and varied experience. EMPAC values colleagues that can bridge different cultures, be they artistic or technical, regional, national or international, of different colors, different preferences, or different delights. We are excited to welcome Ash’s ideas and skills to move us forward.”
“EMPAC is singular within the American cultural landscape because of its unique existence as a breeding ground for experimentation,” said Bulayev. “It is a place where there is room for risks—an institution with an eye for evolution in and across artistic disciplines. It is truly an honor to join the team and to imagine together what the upcoming seasons may look like.”
From 2002-2011, Bulayev was the artistic director of amorphy.org, a collaborative umbrella for experiments in the fusion of performing arts and old/new media. In 2006-07, he was the project initiator and research director for the EU Culture 2000 funded project i-MAP (Integration of Media and Performance) in collaboration with leading media arts organizations in the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, and Bulgaria. In 2007-08, he was the programming consultant for PALLAS, one of the largest performing arts venues in Greece, bringing artists such as Diamanda Galas, Hotel Pro Forma, and Jan Fabre. In 2009-10 he co-commissioned CO-OS Platform, a global network of alternative financial models for creative and artistic production funded by UK Arts Council. Outside the arts sector, he was a project-based creative director for advertising and design firms in Europe and the US. He holds an MA in theater from DasArts, an internationally acclaimed graduate program from the Amsterdam School of the Arts. Hélène Lesterlin, EMPAC’s founding dance and theater curator, departed at the end of 2011 to return to a freelance career as artist and curator.
“After seven years helping to create the many programs at EMPAC, I felt it was time for me to reorient my own practice. It was a difficult decision; EMPAC is an extraordinary place and I was thrilled to be a part of its development and to watch it grow, literally, from a foundation barely dug into the side of a hill to the inspiring and bustling place it is today.”
During her tenure, Lesterlin shepherded and presented challenging work that blurred the lines among dance, theater, performance, and installation. Highlights from her time at EMPAC include residencies and commissions by Ralph Lemon, Poor Dog Group, Phantom Limb, Nora Chipaumire, Wally Cardona, Kota Yamazaki, and BalletLab; theatrical and site-specific performances by kondition pluriel, Tere O’Connor Dance, Verdensteatret, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Yanira Castro, and Chunky Move; the launch of the Filament Festival in collaboration with the music and visual arts curators; and the creation of the DANCE MOViES commission, the only program of its kind in the US, which has commissioned 20 works of film, video, and installation over the past five years. Lesterlin’s curatorial vision balanced the support and championing of risk-taking artists as they manifested new works and a strong desire to connect EMPAC’s local audiences with contemporary dance and theater.