I have become quite settled into office life at MR. I did not have to help set-up for or run any events this week so all of my days were spent in the office running errands within the city, emails, data entry, and continuing with my archiving project.
On another note, I have dedicated significant time to exploring dance history and culture. On Monday I attended a MR hosted event at Judson Church. MR, every Monday, hosts an open performance event in which different artists can apply to show their work to a diverse crowd. This is great for overall exposure, constructive feedback, networking, or simply entertainment. This past Monday was the 20th anniversary of MR hosting this event at Judson Church, so it ended kind of being a bigger deal than usual, especially since their hosting the event at that particular venue is in jeopardy (possible funding issues?). Nonetheless, it was one of the more abstract performances I’ve been to, but I did thoroughly enjoy the work presented by David Thomson, one of MR’s current artist-in-residence. Unfortunately, the video of his piece has not been posted, I’m assuming because of the nudity involved. Here’s a link to a work he was featured in by Muna Tseng, I highly recommend reading the description and watching the clip.
I have also been catching up on my dance history through some more readings and documentaries. I’ve continued reading Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s The Black Dancing Body which I mentioned in the last post. Something I recently watched that helped to supplement Dixon’s work, was the PBS documentary segment Free to Dance. The three-part documentary chronicles the beginnings of Modern dance from the early twentieth century and its formation and influences from the likes of figures like Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis. Moreover, the documentary expands on the experiences of African-American dance artists during this time and how it parallels and fuses with this new dance movement. The documentary highlights black dancers from the Harlem Renaissance (i.e. Edna Guy) up until present date (i.e Garth Fagan and Bill T. Jones) and how regardless of their marginalized status, the immense creativity and innovation that comes from the community. This is a powerful documentary that forces viewers to recognize the endless contributions of African-Americans to American Modern dance. Below is the first part of the documentary (the whole thing is on youtube). I, unfortunately, couldn’t find the trailer, but watching this is worthwhile.
Lastly, I’ve begun reading Sally Banes‘, notable dance historian, Reinventing Dance in the 1960s, which compiles a number of essays highlighting the postmodern dance movement. During this period you see the emergence of a counter-culture within the dance world, championing the avant-garde and challenging the traditional aspects of both concert and modern dance. Postmodernism within dance became a movement to increase the accessibility and visibility of dance. It is characterized by shedding virtuosity through in exchange for the use of more pedestrian movements and objects. In conceptual terms it involved making the simple complex and the complex simple, and making the familiar both familiar and unfamiliar. It was and continues to be a movement that is highly active and conceptual. Moreover, the book looks at specific concepts, such as Banes’ article addressing the use of defamiliarization (making strange) and the ordinary within dance, and also specific artists such as Gus Solomon Jr. and his early beginnings as a young MIT graduate, who majored in architecture, turned dancer living in New York. To say the least, I am keeping myself on my toes with familiarizing myself with dance history.
Aside from getting more acquainted with the usual office work, I’m excited to explore the city more during my last few weeks and, of course, dancing more.