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Singing clear through a forest of signs: On Bill T. Joness Story/Time, the performance and the bookBy Madison Mainwaring
However cool the form, Jones could never really belong to the rest of the post-structuralist dance scene and its disdain for direct story-telling. The way in which his work drew from real life experience was made all too clear for those looking for conceptualisms.
I asked Eiko Otake to describe her latest work, A Body in a Station, which took place this past October in Philadelphias 30th Street Station. One woman comes into the station, walks around, lies down, watches people and is watched by them, then leaves, she said in reply.
The baroque is generally associated with poor taste and bad politics. We think of Versailles and the courtiers powdering their wigs with flour as people died of starvation on the streets. It might be surprising to learn that the excessive aesthetic of the baroque actually started in the populist tradition, when in 1563 the Catholic church declared that artists needed to make an effort to reach a common audience. Standards of form and genre were to be trumped for a more spontaneous, individualistic expression of the human voice. The tragicomedy became a hit. I
However slow the dance, a certain vitality is required of the dancer. Anyone with technique-based training has the musculature of a professional athlete, and must be in robust health in order to perform. An aura of spontaneity surrounds the cultural attitude toward dancing: social dances take place at celebratory functions, and people who call themselves fun-loving will say that they like to dance, too. Stepping in time to a rhythm is generally thought to be a life-affirming gesture, and a hop-skip counts as an unequivocal statement of joy.
There is this great thing that can happen when you are staying in the countryside, far away from any source of light pollution. Its mid-July. The heat stays sticky even after dark, and so you decide to walk to a nearby lake in order to cool off a bit before heading to bed. When you reach the lake, you find that the clear night skyno moon, just the starsis reflected in the water.
Having never seen Nederlands Dans Theater, I was worried its junior troupe, NDT 2, might be a little too “European” for my liking—one of those avant-garde four-hour-long productions you go to against your better judgment in Paris, in which art is less about pleasure than it is a test of “intellectual” endurance.
Christiana Axelsen might not be the first dancer that your eye catches in a crowd. All of her gestures have a rounded, softened edge, and they flow without dramatic pause or emphasis.
In BeginAgain, wizard art team Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey set the stage with a woman on the ground in a full-body cast. She isnt alone for long. As soon as the dancing starts, shes joined by a dizzying array of doubles and simulacrums. Two women appear in matching gray shifts, their hair in girlish plaits on top of their heads.
Lucinda Childs’s dances fall together as if they’ve been arranged by a divine mathematician, the same one who set the Fibonacci sequence into snail shells and fractals in the forest’s leaves.
A note from the Editor: In the same spirit of the Music sections Undiscovered Lands, weve dedicated October to dancers who we believe deserve greater recognition. Spotlighted here are 16 artists who have captivated us with their virtuosity and inventiveness, their vulnerability and grace. By no means an exhaustive list, were excited to begin the conversation.