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Grace Notes: Pam Tanowitz and Simone Dinnerstein’s New Work for Goldberg Variations

The ushers at the New York City premiere of choreographer Pam Tanowitz and pianist Simone Dinnerstein’s New Work for Goldberg Variations at The Joyce Theater warn me that the program is 75 minutes—75 minutes!—with no intermission. It’s possible they have to tell me this, but either way, the length of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” (which, apocrypha alleges, he composed in 1741 as an anti-Scheherazade to help an insomniac count finally sleep) intimidates.

In Conversation


The superstar performance artist, Melati Suryodarmo, returns to New York next month to perform Eins und Eins (2016) at The Armory Show. The piece uses the human body as a metaphor for a nation’s health and involves the spewing of black ink. Having been trained by Marina Abramović and Anzu Furukawa, Suryodarmo combines butoh practices with western performance art, merging her Indonesian origins with her time in Germany.

Training Devices

The object seems to spark joy, encouraging the dancers to climb around its hefty bulk and investigate its crests and falls. While at times the dancers balance atop the sculpture, recalling some of the more poised moments of previous sections, their work in relationship to this sculpture is playful, sensual, and even lazy. With this work’s emphasis on pleasure and relaxation it did not initially seem like a “training device,” even though it elicited specific responses. Watching this section I wondered if training does not always have to be disciplinary. Do we need training to play? Or at least training in setting aside time and space to do so unencumbered?


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2020

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