elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Demian Acquavella (January 25, 1958 - June 2, 1990)

Demian Acquavella (25 January 1958, Brooklyn, New York 2 June 1990, Brooklyn, New York, age 32) danced in the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company from 1985 until 1988. (Picture: Arthur Aviles in “D-Man in the waters”, choreographed by Bill T. Jones in honor of Demian Acquavella. To quote the New York Times, “An exuberant dancer and a popular figure in post-modernist dance in New York, Mr. Acquavella was the inspiration for Mr. Jones’s 1989 work ”D-Man in the Waters,” a celebration of Mr. Acquavella’s determination to fight his illness.”)

He danced in Killing Angels, which was conceived and directed by the artist Robert Longo. In addition to designing costumes for two of Arnie Zane’s last dances, The Gift/No God Logic and Like in Egypt, Acquavella is widely regarded as the inspiration for Bill T. Jones’s D-Man in the Waters, "D-Man" as short for "Demian." (See Marcia Siegel’s review of Acquavella’s cameo appearance in the work as part of the Jones/Zane company’s 1989 season at New York’s Joyce Theater.) In his oral history Acquavella also claims to have contributed choreographically to that work. "[Jones] uses a little bit of choreography that I made up," Acquavella told the interviewer Maya Wallach. In addition, Seán Curran, a friend and fellow member of the Jones/Zane company, created a solo titled Am I Dead Yet? (1992), which quotes from Acquavella’s movements in his hospital bed shortly before his death.

A Brooklyn native, Acquavella began dancing at the age of twenty at Santa Monica Community College in Santa Monica, California. Upon moving to New York, he studied dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, the Nat Horne Musical Theater, and with Marjorie Mussman, Cindi Green, Ernie Pagnano, and Phil Black. Prior to joining the Jones/Zane company, he danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Elisa Monte Dance Company, Rush Dance Company, and for Mussman and Lillo Way. Acquavella died of AIDS-related causes.

Acquavella's companion was Robert Altman (not the director).

Artur Aviles, Demian Acquavella, and Seán Curran in Arnie Zane's Like in Egypt (1988) at City Center, New York City. Costumes by Demian Acquavella. ©Ken Cooper, courtesy Seán Curran.

AIDS Quilt

Source: http://www.artistswithaids.org/artforms/dance/catalogue/acquavella.html

Further Readings:

Choreographing Difference by Albright, Ann Cooper
Paperback: 244 pages
Publisher: Wesleyan; 1st edition (September 15, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0819563218
ISBN-13: 978-0819563217
Amazon: Choreographing Difference
Amazon Kindle: Choreographing Difference

The choreographies of Bill T. Jones, Cleveland Ballet Dancing Wheels, Zab Maboungou, David Dorfman, Marie Chouinard, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and others, have helped establish dance as a crucial discourse of the 90s. These dancers, Ann Cooper Albright argues, are asking the audience to see the body as a source of cultural identity -- a physical presence that moves with and through its gendered, racial, and social meanings.

Through her articulate and nuanced analysis of contemporary choreography, Albright shows how the dancing body shifts conventions of representation and provides a critical example of the dialectical relationship between cultures and the bodies that inhabit them. As a dancer, feminist, and philosopher, Albright turns to the material experience of bodies, not just the body as a figure or metaphor, to understand how cultural representation becomes embedded in the body. In arguing for the intelligence of bodies, Choreographing Difference is itself a testimonial, giving voice to some important political, moral, and artistic questions of our time.

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Tags: dancer: demian acquavella, gay classics

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