When I was in the bookstore earlier I finally had the chance to check out this newish magazine, co-founded by Danny Tidwell and journalist David Benaym, devoted to pop culture, fashion and of course dance. I remember they had a stack of an earlier issue in the lobby at Bad Boys of Dance at Jacob’s Pillow, and I remember flipping through and seeing some ads featuring Mia Michaels, but at that point I wasn’t really sure what it was.
It’s slim (as is to be expected with any new publication), but has some good articles. There are, amongst other things, an interview with choreographer Lar Lubovitch (one of my favorites) by dancer Rasta Thomas (also one of my favorites!), an article on up-and-coming choreographer Aszure Barton, an interview with Grey’s Anatomy song writer Ingrid Michaelson, a photo essay on Cuba that’s part glossy travel essay and part photo-journalism, and a write-up of The Winger featuring interviews with five of its contributors: founder Kristin Sloan, ballet and modern dance stars David Hallberg and Miki Orihara respectively, and, happily, South African grad student and dance artist Maia Jordaan, and dance and technology expert and B-boy Tony Schultz. Being theory-based, the Winger posts of the latter two are a bit more esoteric than the others’, and thus harder to understand (though definitely worth trying!), and I’m really happy the magazine decided to include interviews with them instead of only the most “popular” contributors. In particular, I just love Maia — she’s so smartly charming: “My work is inspired by the sense of a body in motion emoting a connection with the audience. Even stillness contains movement … In a society where the head is often cut off from the body, it is essential to bring head, heart and body together … My work is open-ended, asking the audience to fill the empty spaces with their own appreciation and understanding…” There’s also a little description of one of her own dance pieces, entitled “Still Waters” a site-specific work in which Jordaan, wearing pink underwear, half submerges herself in the dangerously murky waters of the Kaolin Quarry not knowing what may be found underneath. I don’t remember ever seeing this posted on the actual website and I wish she’d post more often her own work and South African performances she attends. She and Tony have thus far concentrated on leading the book discussion group, which so far has focused on the very theory-oriented work of dance philosopher Andre Lepecki, which is, I think very difficult for non-grad students of dance to comprehend.
In his “letter from the editor” at the front of the magazine, Benaym says he’s recently travelled around the country speaking with today’s teens, asking them that age-old question, what do you want to be when you grow up? Benaym laments the responses of the Facebook / MySpace generation (which Thomas Friedman calls Gen. Q.) as centering more around being “famous” than real achievement. “What happened to wanting to be an actor, or an astronaut, or a fireman?” he asks. “Yesterday’s kids dreamed of becoming heroes. Today they just want to be famous.” The magazine, by bringing pop culture together with artistry, “yearn[s] for a movement where talent and dedication take precedence over a thirst for stardom.” Hopefully they’ll continue to showcase and bring public attention to those who, like Jordaan and Schultz, have a hunger for art and knowledge and can pass it on to their audiences, and not just go after the celebrities. Anyway, I think it’s off to a great start!