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December 13, 2005

Some Reader Comments

by Douglas McLennan

Here are excerpts from some of the comments by readers:

I do not think it pertinent to focus on NYC as the dance capital of the world or not, but more so to realize that no matter where (geographically) new, significant work is coming from, it will spur the next generation and help carve the road less traveled so long as it is truly new and significant. - Winnie Wong

The structure of funding the arts in America is necessary as it has bred the culture we all now live with, but it is not the fountainhead of creative juices and it does not make better art. We need a more benevolent attitude toward funding rather than a directive one for artists to thrive again. - Andrew Bales

From my perspective, while there is plenty of BIG, display-based work going on, there IS also another wave of experimentation going on- and there are audiences for all of it. [I've always found it funny to hear this kind of critique from a self-professed balletophile. And, btw, what's wrong with entertainment?] I think of what Tere is doing, what Ann Liv is doing, what Miguel is doing, etc. If you don't like the institutions, either fund your own, or change the channel. But they ARE fulfilling their missions and supporting the work of American Artists. - Brian McCormick

The national infrastructure has changed dramatically in the last 15+ years, as has the "necessity," for artists, of working from a NY base. More and more respected dance artists are finding homes in colleges and universities around the country, where they can continue their creative research and contribute to the building of the next generation of artists and dance leaders. More and more presenters are, as has been pointed out, looking to post-colonial, post-war, and border cultures for rich and challenging artistic voices and content. - Bonnie Brooks

Dance is an international, interconnected world. There are French, Japanese, Australian, Israeli, Dutch, Indian, Columbian choreographers all over New York. I’ve personally danced for all those nationalites. They go back and forth between New York and their home countries, with stopovers in third, fourth, and fifth countries to teach, perform, and/or choreograph. I originally wrote this because I really had a hard time understanding why anyone was discussing dance and its innovation in terms of geography. - Rachel Feinerman

Granted, poverty didn’t daunt Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, and a few others we can name. Were there—are there—choreographers of equivalent genius who remain nameless to us because they simply didn’t have the stamina to endure the cruel prevailing conditions? - Tobi Tobias

You can see all comments by readers so far by going here.

Posted by mclennan at December 13, 2005 12:24 PM

COMMENTS

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.

What to do? ( I am trying to figure it out..what I have got so far is...

1. Don't pay attention to critics, let them argue about where the dance capital is, what is culturally significant and the like... Work on creating what means something to you in your heart of hearts.
2. Create your own venues..even if you do a living room suite...
3. Create opportunities not just for your dance company but your friends dance companies..
New York aint a nurturing city. We have to create that.
4. Get people , real people, (friends who are not dancers, critics or dance presenters) to see your work and to see others work with you . Talk about it...even if your overall impression is Yuck, wierd, too traditional or Eurotrash everyone in the discussion has to find something to like about whatever they see and has to articulate it... ( This helps clarify what everyone values from a performance)
5. Have Children! or if that is absolutely unaffordable and impractical for you as a poor starving artist...Teach children... because when you get depressed, or lost, or wonder why you are doing this you will be put in touch with their creativity and honesty and energy and it will inspire you to work .

Posted by: christine Jowers at December 13, 2005 2:46 PM

I have some separate comments taking place over at my blog that I want to share with the forum so I'm going cut and paste from myself.
1)
I do not disagree about the spirit of place and its influence on its people, arts, or politics. However New York’s inherent spirit of place is international, interconnected, and constantly sharing its ideas while seeking out the ideas of others. One poster at the ArtsJournal forum mentioned Quebec as an example of geographical influence on the arts and then proceeded to name Margie Gillis, Marie Chouinard, and Edouard Lock as examples. I missed Margie Gillis when she was in New York last year but I’m going to see Marie Chouinard this Saturday night. Maguy Marin, Ohad Naharin, Pina Bausch, Jiri Kylian…they all come to New York and are part of the influence on New York dance. As are all the choreographers and companies who come for the French dance festival, the Norwegian dance festival, the Japanese dance festival, the Chinese dance festival…. As are all the independent choreographers and dancers who come to New York for a week, a month, a year, 10 years…. As are all the American companies and independent choreographers that are based in, or come visit, New York…. Take it from someone who actually grew up in New York, most of the people in the New York dance scene are not from here.
2)
I see the innovation in New York in the independent choreography scene. I don’t judge a dance scene by its large, state-funded, touring companies. When I traveled to Budapest, I made it to a DTW Fresh Tracks-like concert. When I traveled to Israel, I took classes and workshops in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In New York, I tend to see many curated, multiple-artist dance concerts. For me, the dance scene and its innovation lies in these places. Like Wendy Perron and Tere O’Connor mentioned in their respective ArtsJournal posts, 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.

Posted by: Rachel Feinerman at December 13, 2005 10:47 PM

Two comments to blow this discussion wide open:
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?

Posted by: DB at December 14, 2005 12:04 AM

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