Fenley (center) and Paz Tanjuaquio
photo: Paula Court

Molissa Fenley graduated from Mills College in 1975 and still goes there, spending every spring on the Oakland, California, campus, living in a dorm and teaching composition and repertory to new crops of dancers. A native of Nigeria (her father was a teacher of agriculture for USAID), she arrived at Mills knowing that "dancing was in the daily life, in the blood." Part of a generation that hit New York in the late '70s and immediately began working on their own, she didn't have to shake off another artist's style. Her choreography "utilizes the upper back in a unique way, culled from non-Western dance." She cites as major influences composer Philip Glass and painters like Vija Celmins, people whose art manifests a certain obsessiveness. Her Kitchen season includes new and recent works and, next week, a reconstruction of her 1983 Hemispheres, with music composed by Anthony Davis and played by the Kitchen House Blend Band. "Bigger organizations have the means to keep past repertory alive," she says. "The Kitchen has been very supportive; they found the means to make the music live."

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