How awesome is this!: “Tonya Plank’s SWALLOW is a real page turner, & she shows that lawyers get as intensely nervous as dancers.” From Wendy Perron, E-I-C of Dance Magazine, via Twitter. I’m so giddy I’d run into Ms. Perron at an Alvin Ailey season preview Tuesday night and when she told me she was reading my book and enjoying learning about my other life, I almost fell off my chair! I can’t even express how honored I am that she even decided to pick the book up!
The Alvin Ailey season preview was excellent, by the way. Their NY City Center season doesn’t begin until December but I think it’s going to be really fantastic. We got to see a sneak preview of The Hunt, by Robert Battle (incoming Artistic Director), which is an African dance depicting how men prepare for an actual hunt but that also serves as a metaphor for how dancers train and prepare to execute a difficult dance. I can’t wait to see that one in full, as well as The Prodigal Prince, by Geoffrey Holder. That one originally premiered in 1968 and Holder was there to talk a bit about it. Really sweetly funny man! It’s about the Haitian artist, Hector Hyppolite, known as “the Haitian Picasso,” and it’s a narrative filled with lots of beautiful African dance. We also saw Camille A. Brown’s Evolution of a Secured Feminine, which I remember from a Fall For Dance program a couple of years ago. It’s a one-woman solo that I liked very much and will, for the first time this season, be performed by someone other than Brown herself.
I enjoyed seeing all my favorite Ailey dancers again – and on a small stage this time (it took place in the Citicorp theater in the basement of their studios instead of City Center), and I was particularly happy to see Briana Reed again. She is one of my favorite women in the company – strong and very dramatic and an intense mover – and I missed seeing her last season. I think she was out with an injury for most of it.
Also, Judith Jamison revealed that Ailey will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Revelations this season, which means the cast for some performances will be increased to 50 dancers! They’re also making a film about that dance, which will be shown at all of the performances, and there will be a lot of live music, some of which Jamison will herself be conducting. Sweet Honey and the Rock will also perform live. And, there will be nice tributes to Denise Jefferson, Joan Weill, and to Jamison, who will be serving her last season as Artistic Director.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking of moving out of New York for a while, but I’m now thinking I’m going to wait on that for at least a few months. There are too many exciting things happening this fall – from Ailey’s season, to New York City Ballet’s first ever fall season, to ABT’s first Nutcracker, to of course the regulars like Fall for Dance and the Guggenheim Works & Process series. I think I need to wait a bit. Plus, I’ve made so many wonderful friends here, and I’m so involved in the dance scene, and every time I think of leaving NYC it really saddens me. But of course with the internet, friendships can easily survive physical distance these days. And I’m sure there are dance scenes everywhere, maybe just not of the same intensity. Who knows, maybe I just need a top-floor apartment somewhere else in the city… Upstairs Godzilla has moved out but her furniture-throwing legacy — an extremely creaky ceiling that sounds like it’s going to fall every time the new upstairs neighbor so much as shifts his weight (and which the landlord won’t fix) — remains…
Oh, one more thing (I know this post is very rambling): Ms. Perron mentioned to me that she saw a preview of Mao’s Last Dancer, which she thought was very good, and that it opens this weekend. So, I know one thing I’ll be doing this weekend. So excited for good ballet movies!