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December 11, 2005

A Positive Development


Before acquiescing immediately to the idea that New York is no longer the world capital of dance, I think it’s worth acknowledging the creativity of the many choreographers who call New York home – Merce Cunningham is certainly the acknowledged grand old man of the field. But one has to add Paul Taylor, Trisha Brown, Mark Morris Bill T. Jones, Elizabeth Streb and Shen Wei only to name a few from a number of different generations to show that New York is still a rich center of dance. Twenty-five years ago, a fair number of those names would already have been on the list of someone watching the dance scene in New York and most dance watchers would have had relatively few names to add from other parts of the country or of the world if their primary interest was modern or postmodern dance. Ballet always had centers outside of the United States even if Balanchine (and, perhaps to a less extent Robbins) towered above other choreographers of the form.

That said, if New York is no longer a self-sufficient center of any art form, it is a sign of a city and a country much more aware of the rest of the world than was necessary even twenty-five years ago. To my mind one of the most exciting developments of the last decade or so is the immense appetite audiences I am familiar with (in Charleston and New York) have for work that comes from traditions beyond the Western European/American canon. I believe that this is a welcome evolution rather than something to be decried.

Posted by at December 11, 2005 5:36 PM


I have been writing, and others have been commenting, about this topic on my blog for some time now. If its OK, I'm going to quote myself:
"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. I assumed Europe is as varied in nationality as New York, and if we're all traveling back and forth then how could we even begin to pinpoint a locus of influence. Upon reflection, perhaps this is a defense of New York. New York, this one city, may have more nationalities from more continents running through it than any other one city in the world. And when there is wonderful art being created somewhere else, we manage to bring a sample of it here. But maybe I'm wrong and someone will pull out immigration and vistor statistics that prove that there are other cities that have just as many, if not more, nationalities in it. I think, ultimately, that geography is really the wrong discussion altogether. Perhaps a discussion on how to engage non-dance audiences in coming to see dance or how to elevate the profile of modern dance in the popular culture would be more useful. Just a thought from a New York dancer.

Posted by: Rachel Feinerman at December 12, 2005 1:38 PM


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