Betsy20224 dancers50 min

With Betsy I was continuing my ongoing choreographic interest in the construction of meaning and meaningfulness, while also following more recently articulated interests:

  • Context, always: My evolving understanding of the impossibility of divorcing any human product from the context in which it is made, or from the context of the viewer’s reception. I’m interested in amplifying recognition of the cultural rootedness of performance materials. For Betsy musical materials included blatant cultural appropriations and exploitations -  The Nutcracker’s “Tea” (Chinese), “Coffee” (Arabian), and “Hot Chocolate” (Spanish)  dances; and the soundtrack of Shaft, which served as (con)texts with which both the viewers and the dancers, in their source improvisations, had to contend. 

  • The phenomenon of performance itself: A play with the multiple relational possibilities between performer and spectator, and between a work and its spectators. For blatant examples: 4th wall and non-4th wall; fiction and nonfiction; entertainment, provocation, questioning, presentation.  We performed Betsy with the audience surrounding the performance arena, allowing the performers increased opportunities to engage in varying ways with viewers, and enabling viewers to both receive and observe the interactions. 

  • An intervention into the structural apartheid in the dance and performance economies, both historically and currently. How is it possible that I worked with no BIPOC dancers in my early works (before 2003)?  What does it mean to now collaborate with BiPOC performers, as well as gender non-conforming dancers?

  • Betsy was my first live production since the onset of the COVID pandemic. (Earlier in the pandemic I created a three-channel video installation, The Disco Project Installation (2021), for Greene Naftali Gallery).  So Betsy was my first full-scale grappling with the confusions and imperatives presented by making and showing work in this significantly altered landscape.

About the text: Though all the above interests are, for me, embedded in and performed by the choreography, I felt I needed to somehow bring the cultural situatedness of the dancing more explicitly onto the stage. I had played around with the idea of utilizing text projections throughout the dance, but in the end I settled on projecting text, on a loop, as the audience entered the space, fading out as the dance began.

Premiered at  La Mama E.T.C. , The Downstairs Theater,  November 2022.


Choreography and Text: Neil Greenberg
Performed by: Paul Hamilton, Opal Ingle, Owen Prum & Neil Greenberg
Music: James Lo, Zeena Parkins

Lighting: Michael Stiller
Costumes: David Quinn
Production & Stage Manager: Tricia Tolliver
Assistant Lighting Designer: Kelly Martin

Videotaped by the Dance Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for preservation in the Jerome Robbins Archive of the Recorded Moving Image.  

Videography by Peter Richards at La Mama E.T.C. , November 19, 2022


New York Foundation for the Arts Choreography Fellowship
Harkness Foundation for Dance
Greene Naftali
2wice Arts Foundation
Creative Residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, NY.
Faculty Research Fund award from the Provost’s Office of The New School
Research funds from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School


Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, Neil Greenberg's New Dance ‘Betsy’ Is a Wild Child

Additional Links

Live Design Online, 31 Days of Plots:  Michael Stiller - Betsy
Pre-performance text for Betsy

L-R: Owen Prum, Paul Hamilton (behind), Opal Ingle
© Frank Mullaney

L-R: Neil Greenberg, Paul Hamilton (front), Owen Prum
© Frank Mullaney

Owen Prum
© Frank Mullaney

L-R: Paul Hamilton (foreground), Owen Prum, Opal Ingle
© Theo Coté

L-R: Paul Hamilton (front), Opal Ingle, Neil Greenberg
© Frank Mullaney