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December 16, 2005

new york state of mind

by

I feel obligated to join to this discussion, even if it’s brief. The tendency for people to react to the essay I wrote in geographical terms is missing the point. The issue isn’t really about New York maintaining its number-one status or that it, in fact, needs to be in some sort of first place. Rather, the essay was positioned as a warning signal that New York has waned as a climate for daring, conceptual dance. The point isn’t even that what is being produced in Europe is better; in fact, the work of the finest New York–based artists is generally more advanced than anything found in Europe. I’m not even sure that many European presenters are equipped to understand the creative magnitude of some of my favorite New York choreographers.

I’m gratified that the piece has provoked questions; if anything, I hope it has made the dance community examine the gravity of the situation. I would like to point out that I revere classical ballet and contemporary dance equally. I selectively cover both forms at Time Out New York because I see it as a way, however small, to de-ghettoize dance (a big problem in this country). And I actually loved Movin’ Out. The question of dance as entertainment has more to do with artistic imagination than anything else.


Posted by at December 16, 2005 12:29 PM

COMMENTS

Dear colleagues:

I am writing to say how much I have enjoyed following this week’s debate, which has been full of insightful conversation. Since this is a public forum, I will contribute some thoughts as well.

Last week, I attended, and very much enjoyed the Dance/NYC holiday party, on December 9th. The event offered many interesting, and useful conversations for me, especially since I recently moved back to New York City, and find myself looking for ways to re-integrate myself into a dance community that has changed.

I have returned to start my own company, and as such find myself having to learn a great many things about the dance world from a very different point of view, this after fifteen years of working in the field. As a result, I am very excited to know about Dance/NYC, and the support it provides to artists. If there is one major difference that I see in New York City now, from when I lived here before, it is the combination of how the dance community seems more decentralized (or maybe expansive is better – with the growing presence of dance studios, centers, and venues in the outer boroughs), and also united, through the complementary growth of important organizations like Dance/NYC, The Field and others, as well as through the inventive efforts of artists themselves. Ultimately, I feel that the dance community is quite healthy. I see people taking classes. I see opportunities for myself as a teacher, as a choreographer, and as a performer. This is why I chose to return to New York City. There is glorious diversity here. There is also the excitement of meeting the specific challenges that confront artists, and others who live and create here. These are thrilling to me.

As I read the fascinating exchange of ideas in this blog, I remain emboldened by what we share, and by what seems like a strong desire for community – not in the sense of mere self-preservation and self-aggrandizement, these, we know are small goals, but more importantly for a sense of enduring connection to the larger society of which we are a part. Our politicians would do well to consider this premise again. I am emboldened by the ambitious goals of Noémie Lafrance/Sens Productions McCarren Park Pool projects and the desire to recapture a vast, abandoned civic gathering place and transform it into a hotbed for local and international creativity. I am emboldened by the chance to submit a proposal to Neta Pulvermacher’s A.W.A.R.D. show, a testing ground for new work with the potential of winning considerable reward to put toward a more fully realized production of my proposed work. I am emboldened by the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, and it’s support of a New Techniques Laboratory where innovative teaching can occur. I am emboldened by Triskelion Arts, a lovely studio in Williamsburg dedicated to providing affordable, local rehearsal/performance space as well as classes to artists who are working in this city, in this (my) neighborhood! And this list is probably just the beginning.

Our field is not dead, nor is this city’s population of artists somehow made insignificant by the growth of other communities worldwide. Instead I see artists surviving through their creative drive to make opportunity for themselves and their colleagues. This, I believe, is what historically has made individuals of distinction in our field, whose work is singular, and yet also common, as in from a communal source, and for communal consumption. We should be celebrating this city. We should be celebrating our incredible, diverse legacy. We should be celebrating our future. All of us: writers, producers, agents, dancers, technicians, designers, teachers, choreographers, and audience members. But we shouldn’t celebrate as victors in pursuit of some international prize or title. Instead, wouldn’t we do well to celebrate by focusing our energies, and our attention on what is more practical? We learn through dancing that efficiency in how we employ our bodies is one of our greatest assets as performers. Clarity of intention, and certainty in our convictions are also useful to remember as we build ourselves up for the next exertion, whether choreographic, administrative, performative, or otherwise. Moving forward with awareness of our total community, while preserving the distinction of our own individual ideas. This is important. This is democratic. In the moment that bodies and ideas intersect, there is space for collaboration. There is opportunity for making an expansive choice. We do this in dance. It is not always easy, but we need to do this more in the other areas of our lives so that we can fulfill our duty as citizens of this global community. As far as I can tell, this blog is a good start. Thank you to those individuals who have made it possible.

Sincerely,

Peter Kyle

Posted by: Peter Kyle at December 16, 2005 12:37 PM

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