In the music video for Daft Punks Around the World, choreographer and artist Blanca Li constructs a scene straight out of a fever dream. Female dancers wear retro swimsuits and prance like showgirls on an Ed Sullivan-style stage.
Walter Dundervill chews gum. The sleeves of his button-down shirt are ripped as if he has tested his wingspan one too many times. He has a sheet of bobby pins in his back pocket. He paces, purposeful, among a group of stone-still dancers. He is the most powerful man in the room.
According to her longtime friend and colleague Agnes de Mille, contemporary choreographer Martha Graham would often declare: “Wherever a dancer stands ready, that spot is holy ground.”
To understand Pam Tanowitz’s style, it seems fitting to start where she ends. As her two-part piece the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces comes to a close, Tanowitz’s dancers show no signs of slowing down.
“To make my original movement language,” wrote choreographer Trisha Brown in the 2009 essay “Forever Young,” “I set off in pursuit of ‘pure movement,’ movement without connotation, movement that is neither functional nor pantomimic.”
In 1974, Sol LeWitt debuted his sculpture series Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes. The conceit was simple: how many different ways could the artist not finish a cube?
Jeroboam Bozeman began his dance training in middle school at the Ronald Edmonds Learning Center. Each time that he entered the studio, he passed two posters.
“This show is about you and your problems,” Ann Liv Young declares. Her blonde wig and powder-blue eyeshadow are harsh under the house lights, which she has requested the theater tech turn up. She wants to see who’s in her audience.
“Please set an intention for your work as a WITNESSING audience member tonight,” reads the slip of paper. It continues: “write down that intention on a notecard.
The work . . . features Baldwin alongside ten performers, all women. The evening-length dance premiered at Abrons Arts Center this June as part of the Joyce Theaters Joyce Unleashed initiative. It makes no apologies for the space that it occupies, the sound that it projects, or the emotional depths that it scales.
In Laura Peterson Choreography’s evening-length work FAILURE, this question of how someone can “lose” dominates. “What is failure,” she asks in the program notes, “and how do we deal with itas individuals, and as communities?
“If one is poor in spirit,” wrote poet, performance artist, and Dadaist Tristan Tzara in his 1918 manifesto on the movement, “one possesses a sure and indomitable intelligence, a savage logic, a point of view that can not be shaken.”
“Please put on your 3D glasses,” reads the directive on screen. The audience laughs.
Monk presents Cellular Songs as the latest in a series of performances that explore humans’ collective relationship with their environment. Her 2014 evening-length work On Behalf of Nature is a meditation on ecology. And as far back as 1994, Monk was examining how humans navigate their surroundings; in her site-specific work American Archaeology, performers directly communed with nature—seventy of them gathered at the Roosevelt Island Lighthouse Park and Renwick Ruin.
Tiffany Mills Companys Blue Room, which debuted at the Flea Theater this September, seizes on the thrill of a life set to sound.
Its Sisyphean to track the history of human strife in a single performance; the nine artists who appear in the work, though, approach this task with a seriousness and intensity
New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns hovers in a side lunge. Her left leg is straight as a knife, and her calf slopes towards the ground like a ripe mango.
The life-force that moves through the roots of a dandelion,” reads the sign, “was thought to be the same life-force that moves through us.” The text is barely noticeable, printed on a slice of laminated paper and tucked into the pot of a scraggly plant. The fact that it is a quote from Porter Shimer’s book Secrets of the Native Americans is hidden beneath its soil.
In the summer of 1991, a construction team converged on a patch of land near New York’s City Hall. It set out to build an office space; instead, it uncovered a mass grave. As researchers sifted through bone fragments and relics from the site, they traced them back to 419 people, all of whom belonged to New York’s African community between the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In Constance Rourke’s 1931 American Humor: a Study of the National Character, the writer and folklorist presents America as an itinerant nation in search of an identity. Amidst this apparent flux, she identifies three distinct American archetypes: the Yankee peddler, the frontiersman, and the blackface minstrel. Each member of “the trio,” she argues, wears a mask for his own protection. He allows his social superior to think he is deferential and submissive; through this masquerade, he gains some degree of freedom and power.