Author Archives: admin

18 Mar

Reflection on Open Spectrum Critical Dialogues

Photo by Ian Douglas

Photo by Ian Douglas

Artist as Activist: Futuring the Face of Protest
By Ali Rosa-Salas

Six months after the murder of Mike Brown, “Black Lives Matter” has been a national rallying cry against state sanctioned violence in the US and beyond. In a kind of collaborative choreography, thousands commanded public space by stopping traffic, lying in the streets and chanting in affirmation of black and brown lives. (more…)

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24 Feb

#OpenSpectrumNYC Chat: Artist As Activist

The first Twitter Chat for New York Live Art’s Open Spectrum Dialogue Series

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21 Jan

Context Notes: Fresh Tracks

First Impressions and Enthusiasms:
A Compendium to Fresh Tracks 2014-15
by Jess Barbagallo

An artist’s digital ephemera makes a curious body to sift. We (sort of) thrive in an age where documentation of live performance and in-process experimentation is readily available – awesome, but by no means all-encompassing. In the following notes, I attempt slightly expanded readings of micro-moments in a range of past movement scores generated by this year’s 2014-15 Fresh Tracks Artists. By responding to the sensuous possibilities of pre-branded process-oriented work, I hope to maintain my wonder for dance and encourage a model of playful association in others. (more…)

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12 Jan

Context Notes: Taylor Mac

The Historical Taylor Mac
by Paul David Young

One thing you can say for certain about Taylor Mac: he doesn’t think small. His breakthrough marathon was the five-hour The Lily’s Revenge. His work-in-progress A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, six hours of which are being presented at New York Live Arts as part of a first-time-ever marathon show, will, when completed, traverse American history, from the Declaration of Independence to 2016 in a 24-hour extravaganza of song, history, costumes, and commentary. (more…)

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25 Nov

Context Notes: Neil Greenberg

The Meaning of “Meaning”: Neil Greenberg
by Paul David Young

When I met Neil Greenberg in the auditorium of New York Live Arts, he was munching on a salad. Barefoot and in track pants, he was from the start quite affable and welcomed my presence at his first time to try out This in the space in which it would be performed. He had unexpectedly been given an early opportunity to explore the piece in the theater at Live Arts for one day and generously invited me to join them. (more…)

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03 Nov

Context Notes: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

By Chance
by Jedediah Wheeler

By chance, I was working for an artists’ management collective at Westbeth (NYC) in the seventies. Merce Cunningham’s studio was located down the hall. The building had been part of Bell Labs and its president used our offices. My job was to find performance opportunities for avant-garde artists such as Richard Foreman, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, David Gordon, Lucinda Childs and Mabou Mines. One artist in the collective already had a formidable performance career and I was told that he did not need my attention. His name was John Cage. John Cage was mushrooming worldwide on his own! (more…)

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23 Oct

Context Notes: Gisèle Vienne

Gisèle Vienne: Disturbance in Representation

By Bernard Vouilloux

The French-Austrian artist Gisèle Vienne (b. 1976) has made the stage her primary artistic material. Deceptively theatrical, her pieces function as tableaux or cinematic shots, hybrid representations of what is inexpressible in human relations. An analysis by Bernard Vouilloux, professor of literature and the visual arts at the Sorbonne. (more…)

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21 Oct

2014 New York Dance and Performance Bessie Awards

Big congratulations to all of the 2014 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award recipients! Special congratulations to John Jasperse for winning Outstanding Production for his piece Within between, Stuart Singer for winning Outstanding Performance in John Jasperse’s Within between and Rebecca Serrell-Cyr for winning Outstanding Performance in Donna Uchizono’s Fire Underground. Read the New York Times Review of the Bessies.

Rebecca Serrell-Cyr in Donna Uchizono's "Fire Underground" - Photo by Ian Douglas

Rebecca Serrell-Cyr in Donna Uchizono’s Fire Underground. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Stuart Singer in John Jasperse's "Within between" - Photo by Ian Douglas

Stuart Singer in John Jasperse’s Within between. Photo by Ian Douglas.

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10 Oct

Context Notes: Cynthia Oliver

Language As Step, or Language Stepping to the Step: The Body as Storymaker in the Work of Cynthia Oliver
By Jess Barbagallo

“Words set to rhythm are like gravy on meat: The sum is greater than the parts.”
-Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Digging the Africanist Presence in American Performance

Cynthia Oliver is a self-described storyteller, her need to “new narrativize” energizing and tangible. Born in the Bronx, raised in St. Croix, and currently a professor of dance at the University of Illinois, Oliver holds multiple subject positions with a grace and clarity that has sustained her career as a performer, choreographer, educator and scholar for over twenty years. (more…)

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09 Oct

Context Notes: Jennifer Monson

Inside the Archive with Jennifer Monson
by Paul David Young

“Dancing is my tool to generate research on the landscape,” Jennifer Monson told me.  It is an “embodied relationship with the world and how we understand it.”  We spoke as she was beginning to rehearse for her restaging of Live Dancing Archive at New York Live Arts and her thoughts about what she would present were evolving.

What Monson means by research involves investigation into hard science as well as spending time at swamps and beaches, filming, watching, and dancing.  Her BIRDBRAIN project, which provides part of the background for Live Dancing Archive, entailed this kind of multipronged approach, in this case specifically with respect to the migration of the osprey, a coastal raptor.  Hundreds of volunteers and a morphing assemblage of collaborators engaged in direct observation and documentation in the outdoors.  By reviewing the films and improvising, Monson transformed these observations into dance, which itself evolved in form as it moved from the wilderness to the stage.  Robin Vachal’s video installation, now on view at Live Arts, documents this process, as does the online archive by Youngjae Josephine Bae.  Monson stressed that whatever happens on the stage is only one component of the total piece.

Though she has danced outdoors, she has returned to presenting her work in conventional performance spaces.  “Dancing outside, the flow of energy is really vast.  The impact is in relation to other movement going on.  There is a way that the energy continues and disperses.  Dancing outside is always destabilizing you,” she said.  She was “very moved” by the way the dances that she staged outdoors disappeared into the landscape in which they were created, like “white on white.”  Inside the theater, she explained, there is “a tighter border, a concentration.  I am able to negotiate and communicate in a more focused way.  The dancing can be quite different.”

The AIDS crisis and queer activism motivated her early career.   Since 2000, her work has drawn from migratory behavior in the wilderness, even as her understanding of the wild has itself shifted.  She said she started out with a simple view of untouched nature, but her experience showed her that it was a more complex thing, sometimes disturbed by human intervention and sometimes restored.  She discovered the border spaces of compromised ecologies and saw that they could be productive environments where rebirth and reinvention are possible.  In our dialogue, though she occasionally uses such terms herself, she was dismissive of any specific terminology, such as “the wild” or “nature,” that might be used to approximate her nuanced understanding of the subject matter of her work, saying that she wants to “de-naturalize” such words.

Live Dancing Archive has been presented several times in different venues and forms, including just last year in New York at The Kitchen.  The addition of two new dancers, Niall Jones and Tatyana Tenenbaum, is Monson’s focus for this new iteration at Live Arts.  For her, the vital question is how and/or whether she will be able to convey the embodied knowledge of the dances that evolved out of the BIRDBRAIN project to these new dancers who have not had the same years of experience, observing and improvising.  It has historically always been true for dance that someone teaches someone else how to do it.  In this re-presentation, it is uncertain what Monson can transmit to others, how much is lost in the transmission, and what has to change or might fruitfully or accidentally change as that body of knowledge is transferred to and re-performed by Jones and Tenenbaum.  The model of the “archive” might here be understood as a process that manifests itself in time-based work, through the always imperfect replicators of human bodies, dancing, moving and vocalizing.  Inevitably the archive reveals itself to be porous, faulty, and unstable, and therefore interesting to investigate, as both a dancer and a spectator.  The similarity of biological and ecological processes springs readily to mind.  In evolution, the variances in DNA transmission create biological diversity and change the species and the world around it.  Ecologies, the collective repositories of life forms and their systems of interactions, are constantly morphing, whether as a result of human intervention or otherwise.

Jeff Kolar contributes a score for Live Dancing Archive that is site-responsive: he controls a handmade chain of radio transmitters responding to electromagnetic frequencies as they are affected by wireless systems surrounding New York Live Arts.  Monson’s creative process involves an analogous sensorial response to the elements in the wilderness.  In her dance she seeks to reveal the agency and materiality of the phenomena that her research has discovered.

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