Healing with the ‘Table of Silence Project 9/11’ from Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lincoln Center

This year marks the nineteenth anniversary of the tragedy of 9/11. To continue their dedication to the difficult healing process, Buglisi Dance Theatre and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with Dance/NYC, present a reimagined Table of Silence Project 9/11 – a free annual multi-cultural public performance ritual for peace and global unity, first conceived and choreographed by the eponymous artistic director Jacqulyn Buglisi in 2011, to commemorate the passage of a decade since the terrorist attacks.

Table of Silence Project 9/11, 2011. Photo by Terri Gold.

The site-specific work had its inaugural presentation on the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center. Since then, more than 1200 professional dancers, musicians, and singers representing the voices of the NYC arts community in all of its diversity have performed to nearly a million people across all 50 states and in 129 countries around the globe via livestream, and to the live audiences that have gathered in person each year for the special event.

Table of Silence Project 9/11, 2013. Photo by Terri Gold.

Past performances typically featured more than 150 dancers slowly ascending onto the Plaza from multiple directions, to the sound of a conch shell’s call to action for peace. Moving to the minimal plaintive strains of the flute, the “heartbeat” of bass drums, trumpet, bells, and the cries of a chorus, the dancers form three concentric circles around the iconic Revson Fountain, while repeating twelve symbolic ritualistic gestures to manifest an ancient Peace Labyrinth.

Labyrinth and Table of Silence Project 9/11, 2011. Photo by Terri Gold.

Re-envisioned for our current time of the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement for racial justice, the socially-distanced 2020 livestream, according to Buglisi, “strives to be a transformative experience that reveals the strength and resilience of our collective society.” She has created a new Prologue, in which 24 dancers from Buglisi Dance Theatre, Ailey II, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, Ballet Hispánico’s BHdos, The Juilliard School, Limón Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, and professional dancers from the NYC community will perform live around the Fountain. Along with them, special guest artists/collaborators participating this year include electric violinist, composer, and music director Daniel Bernard Roumain, spoken-word poet Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Buglisi Dance Theatre co-founder and principal dancer Terese Capucilli.

Table of Silence Project 9/11, 2015. Photo by Darial Sneed.

Featuring both live and pre-recorded elements, the presentation will open with the Prologue (performed live from Lincoln Center beginning at 7:55 am on Friday, September 11, 2020, and concluding at 8:46 am – the time the first tower of the World Trade Center was hit on 9/11/01), followed by welcome remarks from industry leaders, an excerpt from Buglisi’s Requiem (choreographed in 2001, as an immediate response to the events of 9/11), the world premiere of Études (a new three-minute film by Nel Shelby Productions of more than 100 dancers from around the world who created and submitted short pieces, recorded in August, that were inspired by the project), and the 2019 Table of Silence Project 9/11 (to be shown in its entirety).

Table of Silence Project 9/11, 2016. Photo courtesy of Lincoln Center.

Part of the “Lincoln Center at Home” initiative during the COVID-19 shutdown, the offering will be livestreamed on the website, on the Lincoln Center Facebook page, and on YouTube. Following the premiere on Friday, the video will also be available on-demand at LincolnCenter.org/TableOfSilenceProject and on the Buglisi Dance Theatre’s YouTube channel.


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