The roots of Rythea Lee’s performance work as it is now was developed through the years of her work with co-collaborator Rose Oceania, with the company they formed, The Zany Angels. Here is a brief history of that collaboration and body of work.
The Zany Angels Dance Theatre Company was a theatrical troupe of highly trained dancers who used performance as a transformational, heart-opening, and life-affirming experience for both themselves and the audience.
The Zany Angels began with the collaboration of Rythea Lee and Rose Oceania over 15 years ago with an interest in developing work that merges dance, clown, voice, and monologue. They founded a form they named “Moving Monologues” which involved spontaneous personal storytelling and movement. This modality made way for deep and humorous monologues that were juxtaposed with the bodies’ natural play with time, space, shape, and quality. Workshops were organized and participants found they were sharing in a different way then ever before. People from all walks of life, dancers and non-dancers, artists and non-artists found an authentic and healing format for expression.
An important aspect of the Zany Angels’ service work involved supporting, teaching, and performing for survivors of abuse and trauma. The company taught Expressive Arts workshops at women’s centers in MA including NELCWIT, The Survivors Project, Women in Action, the Rape Crisis Center of Central Massachusetts and received a grant from the Department of Mental Health for a long-term support group for women survivors of abuse and trauma. They used performances to raise money for MA organizations working to end violence against women including Every Woman’s Center and Safe Passage.
The Zany Angels were officially formed in 2002 and began performing their work along the eastern seaboard. They performed their full-length production “Shameless” in Massachusetts venues including Mt.Holyoke college, Hampshire College, Smith College, Greenfield CommunityCollege, Emerson College, Bridgewater College, UMass Amherst, and Mobius Theatre.
Separately and together their work has been presented at Muhlenberg College, Bard College, The Seattle Festival of the Alternative Dance, The Theatre Resource Center in Toronto, as well as many New York venues including PS. 122, St. Marks Church, The Joyce Soho, Judson Church, and Movement Research. The Zany Angels were chosen to perform at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange as part of the New Women’s Festival in 2006.
In 2007, the Zany Angels welcomed Patrick Crowley into the company, and began the development of a new show called “Crush, Lust, and Other Decisions; a New Age Variety Show.” This work is described as “Saturday Night Live meets contemporary American Musicals” including vinettes that spoof popular notions of culture and pop-psychology. The Zany Angels organized the first ever Zany Performance Art Festival in their home town of Northampton, MA which included 3 weeks of performances, classes, and discussions. They premiered their new show as well as featured guest artists Johanna Walker, Chara Reigel, Hampshire College Artists Showcase, and showing of works from 8 of the Zany Angels students.
Their full length show called “The Inner Child: Don’t Leave Home Without it” premiered in 2011 at the Helix Theatre in Northampton, MA.
In 2012, Rose Oceania moved to the state of New York and the Zany Angels became a pick-up company, teaching and performing from two locations. In the past few years, they have taught intensives in Zany Performance Art and have worked on developing solo shows. Patrick Crowley has continued to teach Contact Improvisation, Somatic and yoga classes and performs with several local groups in the Northampton area. Rose, in upstate New York performs with Zamboni, a dance and music improvisation troupe with Amii Legendre, Anne Bloom, Teresa Smith and Dean Sharpe. She has continued intensive study in theatrical clown with Giovanni Fusetti and offers expressive arts, sand play, and Inner Bonding® sessions to children and adults. In 2013. Rythea developed her one woman show Don’t Be a Dick (with the assistance of Patrick in writing and production) and toured it for over a year in MA, NYC, and Boston to sold out and enthusiastic audiences. The company continues to support each other’s creative visions and goals while developing their own performance projects and workshops.