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   Principium Omnium   

Tabula Rasa Dance Theater was founded in 2018 by artistic director Felipe Escalante with a diverse group of dancers from 9 different countries. The company is concerned with the pressing social justice issues of our times, and with the historical precedents for them.  

 

Because Escalante believes choreography must elicit powerful and sometimes difficult emotional responses, TRDT’s pieces have explored the inhumanity of mass incarceration, the brutal practice of conversion therapy, the devastation of gender-based violence, the invisible disabilities caused by the insidious omnipresence of social media, the psychological distress induced by pandemic lockdowns, the plight of refugees, and more. 

 

 We are in a constant process of learning and searching, questioning what is meaningful in our art and our lives. Our work motivates audiences to examine their values and help repair our damaged society, with the aim of creating a better environment for future generations. 

 Escalante’s dancers are trained to become masters of their physical bodies, and to express ideas and feelings clearly, with pristine technique. To find truth in movement, we observe gestures found in everyday life, study the locomotion of animals, and explore dance forms from multiple cultures and periods.  

 

As Escalante’s approach to dance-making is experimental and nonformulaic, he and his performers take many risks, both artistically and physically.

 

N A R R A T I V E
Felipe Escalante

Born in México

Felipe Escalante, Artistic Director of Tabula Rasa Dance Theater, began his career at 6, performing the indigenous Otomi ceremonial dances of his birthplace, Querétaro, México. A protégé of Guillermina Bravo, he graduated from México’s National Center of Contemporary Dance.
 
Escalante choreographed his first piece at 16, and has since developed a repertoire of more than 20 works. Commissioned in 2015 to participate in the International Festival of Young Choreographers in México, Escalante received the Choreography Award in 2017 for his piece “Animula, vagula, blandula” at the Series IV festival in Manhattan.
 
In 2018, Escalante received a grant from the Ford Foundation to create “Ex umbra in solem,” addressing the global refugee crisis. The following year, with further support from the Ford Foundation, Escalante premiered “Inside Our Skins,” calling attention to mass incarceration.
 
During the 2020 pandemic, he presented “Liquidus,” a virtual piece about the psychological toll of shelter-in-place. Then, in the summer of 2021, he brought “One of Four,” a work examining gender-based violence, to four boroughs of NYC.  The program was made possible by support from the Ford Foundation, and a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
 
In 2021 Escalante also founded the Liquidus Workshop, to offer free classes and performance opportunities to dancers hurt by the pandemic.
 
 Then, in 2022, Escalante premiered Oedipus Rex, an ambitious  reimagining of Sophocles’s 2600-year-old tragedy, which incorporated up-to-the-minute technology, including lasers and A.I., and an original electronic score.    Critical Dance noted the piece's "startling combination of inventiveness and quality,”  while Dance Enthusiast  commented that the "youthful excitement and innovation of this futuristic epic emits a beacon of hope.”
 
Escalante's work has been acclaimed for both its courageous content and its artistic virtuosity in other  publications, including Air Mail, Genlux, As If, Women’s Wear Daily, and Dance Informa, which said about Escalante, “Every so often an artist emerges who can speak to the present moment yet also transcend it. Felipe Escalante is one of those artists.” 
DANCERS

Founding Dancers