‘Gorky’s Dream Garden’ Presented By Bergen Community College in New Jersey

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PARAMUS, N.J. — The Bergen Community College’s Center for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation honors Lynn Needle, dancer/choreographer (and BCC faculty member), and composer/writer Dr. Michelle Ekizian for their collaboration on the composer’s “Gorky’s Dream Carden,” a musical theater opera of love, courage and modern art with the 2023 Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Award.

In tandem is scheduled “The Dream Garden” program, on Wednesday, September 20, at 7:30 p.m. at the campus’ Ciccone Theatre, 400 Paramus Road.

The concert-event will introduce Ekizian’s hybrid praised by the New York Times for its “forceful and intricate…inspired touch” and hailed in Broadway World as a “genre bending opera.” From recent showcases presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Armenian Diocese and Newark Museum of Art, and its documentary film winning the Grand Finale Award from the Ridgewood International Film Festival, this festive, informative happening will herald the complete opera’s upcoming mainstage orchestral reveals.

The program explores up-close the art and life of artist Arshile Gorky — a founding father of American abstract-expressionism and a child survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century. As in the opera, it fuses the everyday of Gorky’s dynamic modern art world of pre and post-World War II America with tragedy (of genocide, amouricide and suicide) where dreams of nighttime, enigma and nostalgia collide.  A mystical, magical, mystery tour of the artist’s incredible story of survival, the hour-length September concert is in Four Dream Garden Moments. The concert/soirée’s grand evening is dedicated to: Remembering the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Commemorating the September 21, 2023 Armenia Independence Day of The Republic of Armenia on her 32nd anniversary of freedom from the USSR, and Celebrating the Armenian-American artist Arshile Gorky on the 2024 and 2023 120th and 75th anniversaries of his birth and death respectively. Of a global perspective, the musical psychodrama is in tune with today.

Ekizian stated: “From 2020’s relatively unnoticed Azerbaijan War upon Armenian territories—echoing the disasters of the Armenian Genocide—to today’s War in Ukraine, the circle continues.”

Composer Michelle Ekizian in front of a copy of Gorky’s “The Artist and his Mother”

Gorky’s seminal 1941 “Garden in Sochi” and his compelling Artist’s Statement at New York’s Museum of Modern Art describing his lost homeland’s ancient folkloristic “Wishing Tree” and its rituals before the Armenian Genocide “colors” and “frames” “Gorky’s Dream Garden”—in which five additional passionate abstractions of MoMA’s Gorky collection are also key to its emotional/color spectrum.

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Tracing Gorky’s dramatic and “dreamatic” journey for the concert’s Four Dream Garden Moments are: “Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia” (1931-’32), “Diary of a Seducer” (1945),  “Agony” (1947) and 1941’s “Garden in Sochi.” Immersive visuals—real, unreal, surreal—will combine Gorky’s enigmatic, “operatic” abstractions with breathtaking landscapes of his lost Armenian lands captured by Hrair “Hawk” Khatcherian, Armenia’s foremost photojournalist.

For the 15-minute post-concert on stage talk, “Gorky’s and Ekizian’s Mysteries, Seductions, Agonies and Gardens,” will be explored with Dr. Pellegrino D’Acierno  (Italian, Architecture & Cinema, Comparative Literature Studies—Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Hofstra University) and Dr. Youssef Yacoubi (Middle Eastern & North African Studies—Professor, Seton Hall University).

The Art of Motion Dance Theatre with Lynn Needle, director/dancer; Janette Dishuk, dance captain/dancer (of BCC faculty); dancer M.A. Taylor and others—will be featured.

Special Guests in the Concert are the female vocal trio MOIPEI. The Kenyan born identical triplets — Mary, Maggy and Marta — will sing at the concert’s climax, the opera’s cathartic anthem-ballad “Prayer for the Children” for a universal appeal for remembering all who have suffered at the hands of inhumanity throughout the ages. Direct from sold-out performances at NYC’s 54 Below and DC’s River Run Festival, Kennedy Center and the State Department, the sisters will add an extra special meaning and depth to the song. Quick-cutting scripted set-ups will be delivered by Cuban born actor Adela Maria Bolet, the opera’s lead Art Whisperer.

To purchase tickets online, visit cicconetheatre.ludus.com/index.php.

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