I can’t believe it’s already Labor Day weekend. Whoa. Where did the summer go??
Here are some pictures I took of the Downtown Dance Festival last Sunday in Battery Park. When it ended a brief wave of sadness swept over me. This festival kind of marks the end of summer. I feel like I was just returning from the Caribbean deeply annoyed that it was still in the 50s here…
Anyway, the first company on was Figures in Flight, which is a Modern dance school for kids.
One very cool thing about this school / company, as Artistic Director Susan Slotnick spoke about, is that they also teach Modern dance to men in prison. One of Ms. Slotnick’s former students who was just released from Woodburne Correctional Facility was there. The crowd went nuts with applause for him. Made the longtime former public defender in me very happy. I know there are many prison literacy programs, but haven’t heard of a dance program until now.
The kids of Figures in Flight. Slotnick said one thing she does is try to teach kids nonviolence through dance, teaching them choreography addressing or acting / dancing out issues they may be experiencing, like bullying at school. You could see some of that in the choreography. I met someone in an acting class I took years ago who taught drama therapy to mental patients at Bellevue Hospital here in NY. He basically helped patients learn to act out their problems, to use creativity to solve them rather than internalizing or using violence toward themselves and others. I can see Slotnick doing the same thing with dance and I love it.
Next on was Battleworks Dance Company, which presented Robert Battle’s energetic, mad fun Ella, set to Ella Fitzgerald and danced by Marlena Wolfe.
And Wolfe ends her frenzied fit of a solo by collapsing backwards, completely out of breath! This is the first time I’ve seen Battleworks at this festival. So cool to see what you normally only view in a large, distancing theater just feet before you.
Axis Danz’s Mermaids.
Dancewave’s Kids Company, whom I’d never heard of, did an excellent dance — a combination of African, Modern, and Samba. It was mesmerizing. One of my favorites of the day. And man can those dancers MOVE.
isadoraNOW presented Isadora Duncan’s lovely Southern Roses.
This was an interesting company, called Undertoe Dance Project. They combined Tap with Modern, having two dancers representing each style dancing onstage at the same time. Don’t think I’ve seen that done before. It worked.
On last, ending the festival, was Battery Dance Company, headed by Jonathan Hollander, the festival’s organizer. They performed his lyrical, beatific Where There’s Smoke.
Very pretty, very spiritual.
At the end, the Battery Dance Company dancers invited audience members onstage to learn some of their just-performed choreography.
exhibiting, as Hollander announced, that dance is for everyone…
Also, here are some more pictures I took of Hostile Takeover by Richard Move’s MoveOpolis! which was performed as part of the Sitelines series of downtown site-specific works, which I briefly mentioned earlier.
They held the performance at five different Financial District-area locations. The one I saw was at the Jeff Koons sculpture in the small park at 7 World Trade Center.
The dancer, dressed as you can see in a red lacey negligee, red ballet-like diaphanous chiffon skirt, long lacey gloves, patent leather red stilettos, and a clear plastic Butoh mask and platinum blonde wig, moved in extreme slow Butoh-style motion making various poses — some sexy, some more balletic (arms held wreath-like over head, toe pointed forward in tendu). She was very unbalanced on the heels — at several points went to do a low arabesque and couldn’t lift her back leg very high or it seemed like she’d clearly fall — and I couldn’t tell if it was because she was moving so slowly, if she wasn’t used to dancing in heels (so, not a Latin dancer 🙂 ), or if she was faking it, only pretending nearly to fall so as to question the beauty and/or stability of a certain kind of hyper-femininity.
After a series of poses in front of the Koons statue — and beside a small plastic red teddy bear propped up before a red umbrella and holding a little bright blue Jeff Koons ‘sculpturette’ — the dancer turned toward the large sculpture. It’s funny but at this point I noticed how sexual that sculpture is, with the little orifice in the middle surrounded by the three others, and then the stamen-like arm shooting up to the side. It’s like an industrial Georgia O’Keefe figure.
She approached the little teddy bear, seemed to delight over his little toy, seemed to ask him if she could hold his “baby-doll.”
She did a little dance with the small Koons dog/doll…
… then took him to his larger cousin, and eventually placed him in its middle orifice.
The whole thing took nearly an hour, the movement was so slow. It was weirdly poetic, and rather entrancing, not only catching but holding the attention of many passersby.Â I wish I could have made it to some of the other locations because I liked the performance but thought it would have been more of a “Hostile Takeover” had this hyper-sexy, hyper-‘feminine’, hyper-artful, hyper-slow-moving dancer been in the midst of all the crazed besuited Wall Street dudes. This little park was not only already arty but kind of removed from the hustle and bustle. Could have better illustrated the contrast between art and commerce, calm and fast-paced, perhaps masculine and feminine (the program describes the performance as a “glamorous collision of sexual desire with masculinity and femininity and real and imagined worlds”; I’d perhaps question the essentialist nature of words like ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’).
Anyway, there’s one more Sitelines performance, in early/mid September. And then that’s it. Summer dance season in NY is officially over.
Happy Labor Day everyone!