NEWYORKnewyork @Astor Place

I admire Dendy for delving into New York history in this theater piece that he conceived, wrote, directed, and choreographed in collaboration with the other performers. Nor am I surprised how such topics as racial prejudice, homophobia, and the shockingly huge chasm between rich and poor swim between bygone New York and our present-day city. It can be difficult to assimilate all that Dendy is trying to give us in the space of an hour, especially in a place where we can eat and drink as well as take in the show. There are loose ends and surprising choices on his part, but the overall production is a zesty romp with a serious edge and a warm heart. You may get impatient with it, but you can’t help being both edified and vastly entertained.
— Deborah Jowitt ARTS JOURNAL
Would I go again? Absolutely not. It’s never nice to sit on edge, uncomfortable with the honesty of a situation. That’s what makes NEWYORKnewyork@ Astor Place important: it confounds without mercy.

I once had a philosophy professor who said that when you’re confused, it means you’re getting it. If so, Manhattanites have a lot to learn from Dendy and his stint at Joe’s Pub.
— Alexandra Villarreal THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEWYORKnewyork @ Astor Place was commissioned by DANCE NOW NYC to celebrate DANCE NOW’S 20th Anniversary. The site specific work premiered at JOE’S PUB, NYC May 2015.


 Mei Yamanaka in NEWYORKnewyork @Astor Place  Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

Mei Yamanaka in NEWYORKnewyork @Astor Place
Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

CONCEIVED, WRITTEN & DIRECTED by Mark Dendy

CHOREOGRAPHY by Mark Dendy in collaboration with the performers

VIDEO, SOUND, COSTUME & PROP DESIGN by Stephen Donovan

LIGHTING DESIGNER Lauren Parrish

PERFORMERS Christopher Bell, Dante Brown, Leslie Cuyjet, Mark Dendy, Stephen Donovan, Abigail Levine, Alice Klugherz and Mei Yamanaka


Although performed at Joe’s Pub on a 9 by 11-foot stage, NewYorknewyork @ Astor Place, Dendy’s new site-specific performance, is visually striking. Presented as part of DANCENOW 2015: Dancemopolitan Commissioned Artist Series, the production mines the rich history of the Public Theater building, once home to the original Astor Library.
— EXBERLINER

NEWYORKnewyork @Astor Place mines the rich history of the Public Theater building, the original Astor Library, whose collection eventually made up the lion’s share of The New York Public Library’s holdings. The stage at Joe’s Pub in the Public Theater becomes a portal through which we meet a shape-shifting cast of time travelers, habitués from past and present Astor Place and the surrounding area. The piece looks at gentrification through the specifics of one New York neighborhood and asks: What is change? Does history merely repeat itself? The piece explores race relations and violence, the never-ending conflict between the 99 percent and the 1 percent, the role of tabloid news now and then, and is a meditation on the book and its place in our ever-changing culture through dance and text.

Dendy hosts the evening as William Backhouse Astor, Jr., heir to John Jacob Astor, one of America’s first millionaires. Along the way we meet a writer, a reporter, a real estate agent and her clients, a male stripper, an East Village ‘80s punk, a disgruntled Irishman, and two Shakespearean actors whose fierce rivalry spurred the Astor Place Riots in 1849.


And, to the fearless, risk-taking Dendy, for creating such a remarkable show, where you laugh and nod your head in recognition (especially we longtime East Villagers/New Yorkers) until you realize that what he was relating wasn’t always so funny after all.
— Bonnie Rosenstock EXPLOREDANCE.COM

Like an archeologist, Dendy excavates beneath the pavements of Lafayette Street, Astor Place and St. Mark’s Place, uncovering layers of buried drama. He peoples the Pub’s tiny, cabaret stage with characters whose stories belie the simplistic narrative in which real-estate development leads miraculously to urban renaissance. Ultimately, Dendy transforms this artistic watering hole into a bastion of resistance to capitalism.
— Robert Johnson THE DANCE ENTHUSIAST

At Joe’s Pub last week, the work was provocative, wild, and weird. Dendy is celebrated for mixing genres, incorporating spoken word into dance and crossing over from eccentric experimentation to Broadway to ballet. And what exactly was NEWYORKnewyork@AstorPlace? I have absolutely no idea, and perhaps that’s what made it so compelling.
— Alexandra Villareeal THE HUFFINGTON POST

Background videos play a supporting role, too, with phantasmic fire for the witches and documentary collages for the period pieces and nightclub scenes. Leslie Cuyjet as a real estate agent and cancan dancer and Christopher Bell explaining how the economics of modern dance lead to a stripping job are memorable, and all the group dance pieces are a blast.

Above all, NEWYORKnewyork@Astor Place is entertaining and edifying, in equal parts. The dance segments are joyous and witty, the stories dark but nuanced. The audience leaves grinning, and glowing with new information.
— Quinn Batson OFFOFFOFF.COM