Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Return

Well, that was a long vacation I took from this blog!  Thrilled to be back, I must say.  Good news is that I've kept up with MUCH dancing, reviewing, and writing, so I have much to share...

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WHERE dance is danced

Who? What? Where? When? Why?

The "Five W's" were taught to most of us in the second grade as the important, factual backbone of any informative story, piece of writing or argument.

As I walked in to a performance space last night, recognizing a sense of deja vu, I couldn't help but think - "now I remember...the last performance I saw here ---  it was incredible!"  Expectations set.

With dance and performance hubs jammed in the nooks and crannies of New York City's deli's and subways, and shoe stores, it is hard to generalize what certain ones tend to promote and present.  Of course there is Broadway and places like The Joyce that have evolved into brands with expectations and standards weaved in, but the majority of NYC's dance performance spots are hard to pin down.  Rather, they also present theater or art installations or are a nightclub that moonlights as a performance space here and there.  The question remains:  how does the place, and its environment, in which a dance performance is presented affect your - the Audience Member's - impression of the performance?

Trying to keep an open mind as I sat down on the chairs I once sat in, in awe, I thought of how I was naturally already setting the bar high for the performers.  This space, in my eyes, provided excellence once before, so I expected nothing less.  Perhaps my perception is a bit biased as I have been to dozens of performance hubs over the last four years reviewing shows, so I have a wide range of experience to relate to.

But still, the setting of a performance - where and how it is framed in that specific space - is all part of the performance experience.  The people in the box office and ushers form an impression (hopefully welcoming) on you.  The space - small, large, proscenium, nondescript - immediately gives you a sense, or assumption, of what you are about to witness.  Even the people there next to you and the buzzing conversations and simple fact of it being a 20 person audience or 1,000 person audience - affects you.  All of these aspects make you more open or reserved as the curtain rises, more comfortable or attentive, a feeling of intimacy or anonymity in your seat...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Drawing Dance

A fascinating little treat: Kenneth E. Parris III (Brooklyn-based artist) is taking on an interesting project in regards to dance.  Travelling with the renown Merce Cunningham Dance Company on their 2-year Legacy Tour (scheduled to end New Years Day 2012) he's capturing in various drawings the beauty not only of dance, but of the dancers as people - highlighting their "in-between" time when they step off the stage and onto the sidewalk.  It's always inspiring to see art spurring other forms of art, continuing a creative discourse and deeper appreciation between genres.

Check it out here - New York Times - Arts Beat - as well as the Arts Beat "Related Posts."  Cool stuff!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tricky Business

How the heck can someone be expected to decide who to honor, "give a good review," or name as Excellent when it comes to dance?

Ah, this question comes up so much in my life.  Mostly, it's prompted in conversation upon my mention that I'm a "dance writer."  Firstly, I'm usually asked " a dance critic?"  Arg, how I hate the use of that word - critic - mainly because of the undeniable negative connotations that you can often sense instantly in the tone of voice of the person who dares to utter the word.  Secondly, I'm usually asked, "So what do you think is good dance or a good performance?"  Here arises problem #2....the absolute and irrefutable capability of myself or anyone, as far as I'm concerned, to be able to quantify an art form like dance as such.  I mean, here they are asking the girl who will love (with no shame, might I add) Britney Spears until the day she dies, yet adores puppet shows, thinks John Cage's 4'33" is one of the most fascinating things in performance history, stops to actually watch subway performers, and still feels a tinge of sorrow if she doesn't get to see The Nutcracker at Christmas.

Random.  But that's the best part!  And when I think of NYC and dance, I think of the jumbled craziness of performance I've seen - the weird, the elegant, the classical, the experimental, the insane, the ugly, the hilarious, the depressing, the way-too-long, and the awkward.  Talk about a never-ending game of 'Categories'....

All may have been "good" in my eyes, or only some, or none at all, and OF COURSE my opinions on that would differ from yours.  That's irrelevant.
What's relevant is that these performances are being choreographed and presented - that they exist, each shoving its way into our universe.  My job, then, as I go on to explain to Mr. Twenty Questions is to translate these crazy-different performance experiences into words, into another medium, that hopefully reaches more people and gives them a sliver of whatever that experience was - good or bad to me or them.

To try:  the next time you see a movie, performance, play, dance, commercial - describe it to someone without characterizing it as "good" or "bad" in any way.  Tricky Business.