December 15, 2005
Wrapping Upby Douglas McLennan
I'd like to return to one of John's questions - "Is there a lot of experimentation, Gia's 'intellectual and creative rigor,' out there waiting to be discovered and presented?" There is less dance in America than there is of the other major art forms. Why is that? There is less support for dance than for other art forms. Why is that? Is it that dance is at a different point on its evolutionary or institutional cycle than other art forms?
So I guess for me, the question of whether New York is still the "center" of dance isn't so much about bragging rights of a city or assessing commercial success, as it is a way of taking the temperature of what kind of support there is for making dance in general. Plenty of people are asking whether orchestras are dying - they clearly have some structural issues that make survival an open question. The issues for dance seem different, but then again, if the center doesn't hold...
Posted by mclennan at 10:42 PM
The Anti-New York Biasby
I'd like to follow up on some of Cathy's and others comments (like Tere, I'm dizzy!) regarding the political need for the NEA and others programs funded by the NEA to include geographic diversity among their many other criteria. My concern is that this is short-sighted, diffuses artistic quality, and has not led to extraordinary work being created around the country (with a few very wonderful and notable exceptions). It would be fascinating, I think, for an economist to study the conditions under which different types of art are best created. It is my hypothesis that new dance, perhaps more than any other art form, requires the density that exists in New York City -- of peer artists, collaborators, audiences, critics and other media, funders, etc.
More Reader Commentsby Douglas McLennan
Excerpts from more of the contributions from readers:
Does dance need a capital? The fact about New York is that there are still a lot of us 'round here. That means we are more likely to see and/or participate in each others' work. Does that direct exposure spur the aggregate artistic output qualitatively or make us more likely to be derivative? Or both? What we might need is a watering hole, which, as here, could be and often is in cyberspace meaning that it doesn't currently matter where we are geographically. - Gail Accardi
I find great solace having my work seen either by mass audiences in developing countries such as Mexico and China -- audiences which do not have a clue about "dance" or by kids in public schools who think that the dancers make it up right on the spot. (I show regular abstract modern works to kids, but I do arrange them in context.) That allows me to connect immediately to my making and seeing and feeling the response. I think unfortunately we do, most of us, make dances to be viewed and that audience response is so part of the making and re-making process. - Michael Mao
The threat is not that people do not care about dance. The cancer is that the dance community does not care about themselves. There is not one major local, regional or national organization that teaches dancers to take care of themselves in every sense of the word. Artistically , mentally spiritually and bottom line financially. The dancer and it's so called community is a one way street to nowhere. We do not produce our own work, we do not take the risk for our own work we stand by and "pretend" that we are doing something great and that the public has a moral obligation to praise us. - David Norwood
To New Yorkers (applies to all aspects of life): Relax. You made it here from the old country. You no longer have to justify your choice by claiming to be the center of everything, or that everything connected to you is the best.
To the dance world: And how fluidly are non-professional dancers moving? Check out the club floors, playgrounds, and sidewalks. Isn't having an expressively moving populace more important? - DB
I recall how friends in France in the 80's would complain that in Europe you couldn't study modern in a consistent way; there would be a two week workshop here and there, catch as catch can training. So people came here to study, train, and have the daily life of the dancer, a deep immersion. A few of these schools still exist, of course. But the "daily life of the dancer" seems different. It seems that dancers study two weeks here, and two weeks there now, catch as catch can. Part of this is surely economics. But part of it must be also philosophical or pedagogical. What values are we looking for, now that pretty much anything goes? - Gloria McLean
its really the small scale that I find the most engaging and innovative and, honestly, I don’t know if the New York critics can fully appreciate it. I think the dancers who are moving in and around New York, doing wildly different work with different choreographers on different days, whose friends are dancers doing different work for different choreographers, who are all taking different classes and workshops with yet more choreographers are the folks who know what’s going on in any given “scene.” And as you read through the comments made by dancers or talk to any dancers, they all tend to shrug off the question that Gia asked. We know that innovation in New York isn’t dying. It’s the financial landscape and the desire to build audiences that concerns New York dancers and choreographers. - Rachel Feinerman
Many presenters are less adventuresome in their programming than I would personally prefer. But it is problematic to lump presenters into a single, disappointing category. Look at what is happening at the Wexner, the Walker, Jacob's Pillow, ADF, the Krannert...an incomplete list but one that points at continued investments in creativity in the field. Are there enough of these presenters? Of course not. Are we as fully capitalized as we'd like. Hardly. But we're out here beyond the Hudson. - Bonnie Brooks
Frankly, I don't care where the center of dance is. BORING. What I would like to see is more opportunity for artists to work on developing their ideas and values whether they are "traditional" or not. Too much emphasis is placed on who is the most innovative new kid on the block and who is "important" or " significant" or "timely" and not on the value of all the work out there and the potential of much of the work and people out there that is not reached. - Christine JowersTo see all of the reader comments, please click here.
Posted by mclennan at 7:02 AM