Ben Munisteri is outta here, bitches. He’s headed to Alma College in central Michigan, where he’s accepted a full-time teaching position. But before he leaves, he’s taking some time to remind everyone he’s still an esteemed and talented New York choreographer — a master of formalist remix — with four performances at BAM Fisher. His latest choreographic creation “Antimony (51)” will be paired with last year’s premiere “Petrichor,” a dance presented at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center in downtown Brooklyn, which represented the artist’s re-emergence following a downturn.
“In 2011 I hit bottom,” Munisteri told Gay City News. “My job, my art, my relationship. I needed to get off the radar without thinking about the gatekeepers and arbiters of taste. I was questioning the idea of prestige.”
He enrolled in graduate school, which he completed in 2014, an important step on the post-company career path — as any mid-career dance maker knows, it’s nearly impossible to get a full-time teaching job these days without an MFA. Fate also intervened, and in 2013 Ben was selected as the Mellon Foundation Choreographer-in-Residence for Lafayette College’s Choreographers on Campus initiative, a three-year program that brought established and emerging choreographers to the classrooms, studios, and stages of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania area colleges.
Ben Munisteri bounces back, up, and out
“The three-year grant at Lafayette College is now over,” Munisteri said.
The experience was rewarding and re-invigorating at a time when he needed a boost, but after traveling back and forth between his home in Brooklyn and the job in Pennsylvania, he’s ready to settle down.
“And I don’t feel connected like I used to,” he added, referring to the New York City dance market.
Plus, with a new boyfriend living in the Midwest, the move will cut down on the time they spend apart.
“Antimony (51)” was developed in collaboration with Roxy Swails, who teaches chemistry at Lafayette, and is set to songs by cellist and vocalist Jody Redhage; it’s just one of the many fruits of the Mellon initiative. The title comes from the periodic table for an element defined as a lustrous gray metalloid. Notable among its properties: it and its compounds are toxic and it exists only in combination with other elements.
“There’s something special about it,” the choreographer elaborated. “It’s antithetical to life, but it combines with other elements to create color, like with lead it creates a unique yellow color called antimony yellow, and when it combines with sulfur, the molecules chime as they cool — and it’s also poisonous.”
The chemical gets its name from the Greek words anti and monos, which together mean not alone.
“It’s a metaphor for relationships,” the choreographer said.
Like the element, the dance is all about coupling — the designs, patterns, and structures, Munisteri explained, are all just a frame for that.
Even though he’s leaving, this Brooklyn-born native son vows to be back. His new employer still wants him to continue presenting work in New York, so he will not be cutting the cord entirely.
The season features dancers Eric Sean Fogel, Katie Weir, Angela Maffia, Shane Rutkowski, Shomeiko Ingham, and Kenneth Stephen Neil, with costumes by Harry Nadal and lighting design by Kathryn Kaufmann.
BEN MUNISTERI | “Antimony (51)” | BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Pl.,btwn. Lafayette Ave. & Hanson Pl. | Apr. 21-22 at 7:30 p.m.; Apr. 23 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. | $22; $15 for students & seniors at antimony.brownpapertickets.com