“Il faut brûler pour briller” is a collaborative duet I conceived of and performed with Maria Jacobson as part of my senior work in dance.
The decision to make this piece, which is unlike anything I had previously created, was simple: in my fourth year at Bennington I reached a certain level of comfort in my work-making and performance and saw that as an opportunity to get a little risky. I’d first worked with Maria when I was a sophomore and she was a wee freshman, and had watched her emerge as a powerful stage actor. I gave us both a simple task: outdo the other. Be more daring, more vulnerable, more raw. Then this happened.
At Bennington College, I co-founded and co-run an organization called the Bennington Movement Collective. The Movement Collective is the product of many conversations had with my dear friend and artistic collaborator Corina Dalzell regarding how students at Bennington take advantage of existing opportunities to be involved in dance and the movement arts, and what was missing. We created a forum in which students who are not enrolled in movement courses or are unable to participate in student projects can still meet weekly or drop in occasionally for workshops, discussions, film screenings, or what have you.
One of my projects for the Movement Collective this term has been to increase our use of social media and online identity. I’ve been writing and curating guest posts for our blog, which is part of the reason why my own blog has gone unattended. I’ll share here part of a piece I wrote in response to Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal at BAM last month; click on the link to read the rest.
pina bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal: an army of limb-y creatures
in poetry, we try to distinguish between the scenario and the about-ness of a poem, and often begin our discussions by identifying what is OCCURRING and what is BEING SAID.
what OCCURS in …como el musguito en la piedra, ay, si si si… is perhaps a deranged dinner party on an iceberg.
what is BEING SAID feels limitless. the work explores relationships (and within those, vulnerability, aggression, teasing, loss, longing, flirtation…), ideas of beauty and presentation (i can’t stop thinking about the woman applying makeup while the man pours out a bottle of water over her head), the joy of movement itself (remember in the movie PINA when that one man does the movement during the piece with the rock and then everyone joins in?)…and more. (click to read the rest)
After an exciting couple of years writing dance criticism for The Rogovoy Report and the former award-winning publication Berkshire Living, it is time for me to move on to new adventures.
This decision was made with the utmost respect for The Rogovoy Report and with appreciation for the opportunities I have been granted. Several factors prompted this decision, not the least of which is that I am no longer a resident of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the area which The Rogovoy Report focuses on in its reportage.
I intend to continue writing dance criticism, and hope to report to you soon from a new position at a new publication. Until then, you may find all my writing right here on Rogovoy Footnotes.
The first show I saw in 2011 was at the Abrons Arts Center, part of the American Realness Festival. I had been living in Brooklyn for about three weeks and was spending my days interning for Monica Bill Barnes and taking Gaga classes at Peridance. A close friend from the dance community at Bennington dragged me out to Abrons on a freezing January night to see Tarek Halaby’s show, ”An attempt to understand my socio-political disposition through artistic research on personal identity in relationship to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Part One.”
At a time when I was immersed in the world of viscerally pleasurable movement–Gaga was helping me explore new physical sensations in my dancing, and Monica’s choreography, which I was seeing in rehearsals for her new commission for Parsons Dance, had always struck me as being enjoyable to perform as well as see–this show was a huge shock.
There was virtually no movement. Halaby paced the stage, sat in a chair, and toyed with a few props, speaking casually and then excitedly. It was, in essence, a piece about making a piece that hadn’t been able to be made. And it was one of the most effective and compelling performances I have ever seen. At times I felt uncomfortable, particularly as a young Jewish woman sitting two rows away from this man screaming about the cruelty of Israeli soldiers. I felt implicated in ways that I didn’t understand. At times I laughed hysterically, as when he described the different pace in lifestyle in Brussels and in New York. And at times I felt incredibly sad, without really knowing why, without knowing whether I was relating to the feeling of not being able to succeed in producing a work of art or the feeling of having a heritage one can’t fully claim or comprehend.
In recent weeks, it has come up in conversation not infrequently, as classmates and I discuss our work and as I continue to wrestle with the question we must all be asking all the time: what defines a work of art? Tarek Halaby’s work was billed as a dance performance, and I appreciated it immeasurably, but did I appreciate it as a dance performance? Was it a psychological investigation cloaked by a more familiar term, entrusted to an audience brave enough to weather an hour of talking only to end in barely thirty seconds of movement?
If nothing else, I believe the fact that I am still thinking, talking, and writing about this work nine months later may answer some of those questions.
Here is an excerpt from Tarek Halaby’s “script” as featured in the Brooklyn Rail.
For as long as I can remember, frequently attending live performances of theater, music, and dance has been a part of my life. The lucky daughter of an arts journalist and an arts administrator, these performances were an integral part of my childhood, and I have done everything in my power to maintain this practice. I was overjoyed when I was given the opportunity to cover dance this summer for the previously mentioned journalist’s website. But it is with a heavy heart that I write today, spirit crushed by the irreparable damage incurred last night by the loudest audience I can recall ever being a member of.
I had eagerly anticipated Jonah Bokaer’s performance at Jacob’s Pillow since the season was announced in January, which made the evening’s disturbances all the more disheartening. The first work on the program was a solo performed completely in silence by Mr. Bokaer, who I would wager was able to hear every bit of unfortunate, creak-inducing fidgeting. But the moment in which I thought I might inflict bodily harm upon myself or another occurred during the second work on the program, RECESS. The (newly commissioned and excellent) score by Alexis Georgopoulos was still quietly building in intensity when dancer Adam Weinert lowered himself to the floor and crawled sideways on all fours, limbs extending from his body at eerily fascinating and beautiful angles. I was making a note of how compelling I found Bokaer’s use of the human form to create inhuman shapes when a gentleman seated several rows behind me “whispered” to his neighbor, “HE LOOKS LIKE A SPIDER.”
There are few things I respect more than an engaged, opinionated audience. Art has always been and should always be a tool for provoking discussion. However, there is a time and a place for everything, and I feel confident when I say that in the middle of a show in a wonderfully small venue is not the moment or the location in which to voice one’s thoughts. Expecting an evening of inventive, thought-provoking work, the only thing that disappointed me was the behavior of the audience members who were either oblivious or openly inconsiderate of the silence in which sections of the work were meant to be seen.
This problem is a persistent one: thinking back to the stunning performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Ballet du Grand Theatre du Geneve which opened the Pillow’s season, I remember being spitting mad when, during a silent section in which the two lead dancers were clad in skin-toned bodysuits giving them the illusion of nudity, the audience erupted in a deluge of uncomfortable coughs and twitches. Inexplicable are the distinct thuds of objects being dropped from laps—this has happened at every performance I’ve attended this summer, and I have to know: what are these people dropping? Have they taken everything out of their pockets or purses and balanced it on their restless legs? Do they bring small rocks into the theater with them to use for this exact purpose, hoping to do everyone a service by breaking the moments of perfectly orchestrated tension that dance often establishes? If this is the case, I would like to take a moment to thank them for their consideration, and to let them know that their services will not be required this evening. Or any other.
“It’s impossible to be eloquent enough in describing the dance-theatrical feat that choreographer Crystal Pite and her troupe, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, have pulled off in Dark Matters”
So says a writer for the Seattle Times. Nevertheless, I’m going to try. I’ll be seeing Kidd Pivot on Thursday–check back early Friday morning for my review!
Check back later today for notes on Jacob’s Pillow’s excellent Season Opening Gala — right now I’m off to Vermont to visit friends and colleagues who just returned to the States after representing Bennington College at the CNDC Schools Festival in France.