Dancing on the Rail
Late August/September 2004
Dance and politics may seem like disparate fields, but choreographers have long been delving into the world of politics with dances of protest and dissent. One that immediately comes to mind is Kurt Jooss’s 1932 The Green Table, a dance theater work that took issue with war and politicians. The Green Table begins and ends with men in suits and masks situated around a green table, gesticulating and genuflecting, who are meant to embody, in the choreographer’s words, "the powers which gain in war." Nearly 75 years later, as New York City—dance capital of the world—prepares for the RNC, the same sentiment of protest can be seen in the Imagine Festival, which will present a series of performances, including dance, in opposition to the convention and the Grand Old Party. Among the dance performances, three that sound promising are Brooklyn’s own Urban Bush Women, who will be performing at Joe’s Pub; Eiko and Koma at the Asia Society; and WAX’s The Bridge series. The Urban Bush Women’s Are We Democracy? explores voting rights and apathy. Eiko and Koma’s Mourning, part of the larger The Forgiveness Project, which blends Beijing opera, Korean dance, and Japanese butoh to tell a Chinese tale of murder and vengeance, focuses on grief and the stages of mourning. WAX (the Williamsburg dance venue that will be closing its doors this November due to the loss of its lease) presents their dance theater series The Bridge, with Nicole Bindler, Kinetic Architecture, and Refractions Dance Collective, performing works dealing with the theme of justice.
Are We Democracy? Sept. 1, 7:30 pm. Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, 212.539.8778, www.telecharge.com. Tickets: $15.
The Bridge (Justice), Aug. 31, 8 pm. WAX, 205 North 7th Street, Williamsburg. Tickets: $10. www.wax205.com
For those who prefer dance minus the partisan politics, there are plenty of other dance performances come September. As the dog days of August come to a close, the fall dance season begins afresh with two major fall festivals—the Dancenow Festival, celebrating its 10th anniversary and the new, much anticipated Fall for Dance Festival at City Center.
Dancenow Festival September 8-18
Dancenow has built a reputation as the festival that kicks off the New York fall dance season. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the festival will take place across five different neighborhoods—SoHo, the East and West Villages, Harlem, and Washington Heights. The festival opens with a performance and party on September 8, which is meant to showcase performance highlights from the past, present, and future. Performers include Monica Bill Barnes, the Brian Brooks Moving Company, Doug Elkins, Nicholas Leichter, and Zvi Dance. But it’s the popular Base Camp Series that is the most interesting and engaging mixed-bill performance series this festival has to offer. The Base Camp series, held at the Joyce SoHo from September 13-18, with two performance nightly (7:00 and 9:00 pm), focuses on little-known companies and choreographers presenting both off-the-wall and down-to-earth works. While some of the dance here can miss the mark, others are often full of pleasant surprises. Dancemopolitan at Joe’s Pub is also part of this year’s festival, featuring a well-known host for the evening’s onslaught of drinks and dance. Hosts include Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent and the Happy Hour Comedy Trio. Most tickets are $15 and some events are FREE. For more information visit the festival Web site: www.dancenow/NYC.org.
VANESSA MANKO was the former Dance Editor for the Brooklyn Rail.