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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2021

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OCT 2021 Issue
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Review

Madeline Hollander, <em>Competition</em>, 2017. Performed at Bartolami Gallery, New York, by Marielis Garcia, Katie Gaydos, LaurenNewman, Jeremy Pheiffer, Asami Tomida, and Madeline Hollander
Madeline Hollander, Competition, 2017. Performed at Bartolami Gallery, New York, by Marielis Garcia, Katie Gaydos, LaurenNewman, Jeremy Pheiffer, Asami Tomida, and Madeline Hollander

Review
Hamilton Fish Pool (Lower East Side)
Corner Of Houston And Pitt Street, New York, Ny 10002
October 28 – October 29, 2021

Before the pandemic hit I had been in production creating a large-scale performance featuring dancers from companies all over New York City who would come together on one stage to present works that were just about to premiere—future choreographies that they were in the process of rehearsing but had not yet reached the stage or a public audience. This piece was called Preview, offering a sneak peek into the future of the city’s dance community with the anticipatory energy akin to watching an orchestra warm up just before the lights dim and curtain rises. On March 12, 2020, which marks my last live performance at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Preview came to a sudden halt; the city was shutting down, rehearsals were postponed indefinitely, performances cancelled, tickets refunded, and theater doors were closing like dominos. A year went by and rescheduled performance dates were still “tbd.” At this point I knew that this once future-oriented work needed to be inverted—I would review the works that were rehearsed, scheduled, and then cancelled due to the pandemic, as opposed to waiting for them to come back to life.

Preview morphed into Review and became a type of requiem, honoring the dancers, choreographers, companies, and theaters for the immense time and collective energy already put into each of these productions. Review is a piece composed of 25 professional dancers from a selection of New York’s iconic dance companies, all sharing one stage to move through their own cancelled repertoires. It features dancers from Trisha Brown Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s West Side Story, New York City Ballet, the Met Opera, and Bill T. Jones Company among many others, who will all be marking through choreographies that were scheduled to be performed over the last year and a half, and remain stuck within their bodies, in a “pandemic purgatory.” 

Madeline Hollander, <em>Toss Walk Sequence</em>, 2020. Watercolor, graphite, ink and colored pencil on archival paper. 18 x 24 in (45.7 x 61cm). Photography byKristian Laudrup
Madeline Hollander, Toss Walk Sequence, 2020. Watercolor, graphite, ink and colored pencil on archival paper. 18 x 24 in (45.7 x 61cm). Photography byKristian Laudrup

The piece presents a juxtaposition of bodies, techniques, styles, and choreographies that have never before shared a stage and illuminates the dance world’s often overlooked universal system of sign language, called “marking”: a type of hand-signaling or dance “short-hand” that enables a dancer to move through and rehearse their choreography without performing their role “full out” and exhausting their body. It is also a tool that ballet mistresses may use to set a ballet with just their hands to communicate the steps to the dancers. I consider this work a “live choreographic readymade” because each of the dancers’ choreography is pre-set and represents ballets dating from the 1800s to the present. Some of Review’s repertoire has been performed thousands of times over the past century and some has never set foot on stage; each has their own story and running time. My role in Review is to suture together this diverse group of choreographies, dancers, and durations to create an altogether new ballet, one that celebrates the wide range of styles, companies, and choreographers that are deeply imbedded within New York’s cultural landscape and stands as an homage to all the performers who were not able to take their final bows.

Contributor

Madeline Hollander

Madeline Hollander is an artist. She studied cultural anthropology and visual arts at Barnard College (BA) and Bard College (MFA).

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The Brooklyn Rail

OCT 2021

All Issues