The past few weeks have been an inundation of performance experiences. Both at work and outside of the office, I haven’t been able to get enough of being an audience member. Seeing, appreciating, experiencing. Being a consumer of the performing arts in a very religious way. Rather than be the producer, the mover, the artist, for the first time in my life I have become the critic, the outside eye, the audience member only seeing the final product rather than knowing the details of the journey.
“When you love yourself enough to stand in your truth no matter what the cost, everyone benefits.” Jen Sincero, You Are A Badass
My truth as of right now on this day? Different than it was yesterday and I’m sure will alter tomorrow. Still learning how to stand firm within it day by day. Right now what I know is amidst constant stir, change, scary new situations and people, things, what keeps me steady is talking about art. So here we go…
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at The Kennedy Center
A wonderful story that needs to be told, seen, and heard. Following Christopher, an autistic boy who sets out to figure out who killed his neighbor’s dog. When he does so, we begin to see the world from his point of view. Unfolding like a storybook with a narrator walking us through the chain of events. Stunning visuals, intricate set, yet minimalistic props, use of shape and color. At times, the boy would step outside of the dialogue and break the 4th wall, indicating to us that he had written this storybook, and wanted the play version we were seeing in that moment to be accurate. What struck me most was the ending… Christopher prompts the narrator with an excited plea “I can do anything… right?”
American Ballet Theatre at Lincoln Center
My first experience at the ballet in New York City. Side note for my fellow performing arts lovers out there – the only thing I could think the entire time was that song from A Chorus Line. As I walked through the marble lobby, marveled at the diamond-like lighting fixtures lining each balcony tier, and sipped coffee from a teacup, feeling wildly underdressed, nothing could have been more beautiful about those moments. Three pieces rounded out the ABT evening – Ratmansky/Ashton/Millepied. An all male ensemble (with short cameo by a woman) created the world of “Serenade After Plato’s Symposium” – perhaps my favorite of the evening. Ashton’s piece that premiered in the 60’s looked as if it was trapped in a time warp. Though embedded with impressive choreography and technical footwork that clearly challenged the movers’ potential, I couldn’t move past the lime green stage legs and retro nightcap headpieces. “Daphnus and Chloe” was the perfect way to end the program – a full production complete with incredible set pieces, a full chorus, and a trippy black and white light show/visual illusion at its start. Red, blue, yellow, and green contrasted with black and white striped accents flew in and out of the space as dancers glided beneath. A collaborative, minimalist take on the 21st century story ballet.
Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In/Motion’s Pavement at BAM Fisher
A revival of one of his most memorable pieces. I was completely enthralled by: quick transitions, use of language, props, set, projections to indicate place, time, texture of place. Toward the first third of the piece we see Kyle in silhouette, red lights circling the intimate space as if we were trapped inside a room filled with first responder vehicles. His small pleas to passerbys turn into a cry for assistance – “help me…help me…” as a white and black man dance in tandem downstage, opposite him. On the surface, I saw this work clearly addressing bigger issues. Race, gender, relationships, economic differences, love and tenderness vs. fear and aggression. Disturbing, difficult moments of desperation contrasted by physical comedy, chatter, and leisurely eating potato chips and sipping Sunkist. Underneath these concepts were deeper comments on laziness, ignoring the bigger picture, refusing to help support one another. I was completely entranced by the movement quality, the dancers’ commitment to character. It’s no wonder they had a sold out run.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company’s Analogy/Lance: Pretty AKA The Escape Artist at The Joyce
“You’re not an artist until you’ve made the ugly parts of yourself beautiful.”
I would have to say this may be one of the greatest pieces of work I have seen to date. Completely unlike anything else in the contemporary concert dance realm, Bill’s work is a fusion of intense movement, theater/performance/text, live music and DJ, props, set, costumes. Even down to his choreography of shadow and spoken word, the story of Lance was brilliantly narrated, picturesque and yet grotesque. A unique, diverse range of performance artists unafraid to leave it all on the stage, openly show, openly tell. I don’t want to completely botch the story by trying to summarize it here, but my advice to you is: look up Lance T. Briggs or LTB for short. I aspire to have the kind of poetic delivery in my work. To touch audiences without giving everything over. Leaving room to interpret. Staying true to the vision. Letting it be personal. A+++
Vail Dance Festival: ReMix NYC at City Center
Damian Woetzel describes moments at the ballet barre as “going to church.” There’s something quiet, meditative, and completely spiritual about those repetitive exercises that begin every class. In his Lec/Dem style performance, Damian introduced artists from his summer festival held annually in Vail, Colorado. Focusing on the idea of footwork, he took us through different genres of dance, highlighting the importance of footwork in each. We then got to see the descriptions in action in a sort of “Show and Tell.” I loved that nothing was completely polished. It’s like we had a studio session with these artists, getting to hear their voices and also see the building blocks of the final product. As an artist used to experiencing this journey inside the studio, I appreciated that inside look into the process. Standouts were: Lil Buck free-styling to the incredible music of a native Indian drummer and a woman playing bagpipe (talk about an amazing collaboration), Tiler Peck and Robby Fairchild’s performance of the duet for Balanchine’s Apollo.
And to round out the full program, I witnessed the NYC Marathon yesterday from Brooklyn and from Columbus Circle near the finish line. All I can say is, despite the state of our nation, the state of the world, I am constantly inspired by the human spirit. Our ability to push ourselves, to create things, to share stories, to learn. It was incredibly humbling to watch a sea of hundreds of runners willingly taking a leap, accomplishing something incredible. To see handicapped athletes taking the marathon by bike and persevering. To witness a participant wheeling his way by hand in his wheelchair for the full 26.2 miles.
Stand in your truth today.