46. c o n t i n u i t y in the c i t y

Last week I moved from HTX to NYC. I’m now reading, writing, waiting, walking, living in Queens with a world of everything and anything at my disposal.

(Featured image copyright of Yvonne Rainer, courtesy of Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

What do I do when so much is going on in nearly every corner of this city? I do my best. I maintain experience constancy. But I’m realizing, like many things, my idea of constancy is different here. Experiences in HTX differ from experiences here in many intricate ways.

Take for example my arrival week. I came in on July 15. The big one debuted on the 20th. The effervescent POB, bold Bolshoi, and proud NYCB merged for the celebration of Balanchine’s brightest full-length neoclassical ballet, Jewels. Single ticket cost: beyond my post-move budget. (I’ve seen HB perform Jewels fairly recently anyways; the lie I’m telling myself is that I can go another few years to let it mentally marinate…)

Of course, the Pillow is on going at this very moment upwards in the wooded areas. Like clockwork, those who can afford to take days off and travel to a beautiful remote area for days of beautiful dance flock and gather. Realistically, while I’m unemployed like now or a full-time student and worker, I’ll probably never make it there. Same deal with all of my peers in dance, unfortunately. It’s not a place for young full-time students and workers. I feel like I have to “come of age” to attend the Pillow. (The median age range is  in the upper 50s for obvious financial and leisure life reasons.)

Then there’s the Ballet Festival at the Joyce, featuring a mix of brilliant choreographers who happen to be female. All of which I’d very much love to see live. Cost: starting at $46 per show–also beyond my budget. But, oh, to plan my first live performance to attend at the Joyce.

And the ADF film festival is also going down in the Bronx this weekend. Admission: free, but I’d have to go to the Bronx and back to Queens late at night on a weekend. (I’m quickly learning that, like I45, nearly all of the MTA is a massive fuck fest at all hours.)

As much I’ve been wrapped up and dragged through the ballet world, my first dance event in NY was not in any way related to classical ballet. And that’s been seeping into my conscious. (more about this on another post soon.) My first dance event in NY happened to be a free event my roommate invited me to at LIC, the Queensboro Dance Festival. It had vibes of my beloved Barnstorm Dance Fest. Community was radiating that Thursday night. Queens–a new community that I’m going to do my best to listen to and learn from.

My next dance event synced up in one of those serendipitous ways that only art can pull off elegantly. I’ve been making my way through Yvonne Rainer’s Feelings are Facts (2006). Gradually reading and reflecting. Here is a era of dance in America that I’m less than familiar with but more than curious to explore with each year. Post-modern dance isn’t suppose to be scary or difficult to understand. It’s of the people for the people. Community. And YR is one of the heroines of radical movements. So obviously, I had to go see a film or two at the “Talking Pictures” film series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

TALKING PICTURES: THE CINEMA OF YVONNE RAINER at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (July 21-27). After revolutionizing dance in the 1960s, Ms. Rainer, a founding member of Judson Dance Theater, turned her attention to filmmaking, not to return to the dance world for more than 20 years. The Film Society presents this retrospective of her work for the screen — the first in New York in over a decade — organized by Thomas Beard. The series also includes films by Ms. Rainer’s contemporaries and influences, including Charles Atlas’s “Rainer Variations” and Andy Warhol’s “Paul Swan.” Ms. Rainer joins the novelist and critic Lynne Tillman for a conversation at 7 p.m. on Monday.
212-875-5232, filmlinc.org

My budget allowed for the purchase of one film, plus the free talk with YR herself. I decided to see Trio A/Rainer Variations. The dance major in me was shook. Here is the full-length post-modern dance epitome we learned about from textbooks on the large screen. I’m surrounded by a decent crowd of all ages and all races and all classes. All interested and inclusive. Community.

Before the live talk with YR I visited my happy place, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at NYPL. I can’t promote this library and division more than I already do. It’s a national treasure to have such dedication and justice done to the arts. The exhibit currently on view is, ironically, “Radical Bodies” which runs until Sept. 16.  Co-curated by the wonderful Wendy Perron (whom I fangirled from a far and ease dropped while she was giving a tour) the exhibit is a massive reflection on YR, Anna Halprin, and Simone Forti–the big three of the post-modern expansion across America. I always miss the most powerful exhibits in NY (see “Savage Beauty” at the MET circa 2011) so I’m thankful I could at least catch this one. Right place, right time.

On the 26th I also got to catch a dance company I’ve adored from afar, BalletX, with YY Dance Company during a FREE SummerStage in Central Park performance. It was especially rewarding to see Trey McIntyre’s Big Ones live too! One fun, free evening outdoors.

It’s now been three weeks away from HTX. I’ve seen more diverse dance events in such a short span of time than ever before. I didn’t come here with like $20 in my pocket cause that romanticized idea would be completely irresponsible in today’s world. But I did come here with only one dance book, Feelings are Facts.

During train rides and as I climb up steep stairs–trying not to trip like a naive fool–I think about my dance experiences. (Remember, I have my eventual MA thesis in the back of my mind at all times…) If the dance community in HTX was all about catching up and claiming an identify across different dance forms, then, IMO, the dance community across NYC–so far–has been about variety rather than validation. They already know their place in this digital world of art and commerce. They are trying to share all types of dance in a community that’s already in love with free movement. That’s not to say that the NYC dance communities aren’t without faults. I’m sure I’ll find random stacks of problems in these communities as I continue into my thesis.

A soothing memory: sunset at LIC before the Queensboro Dance Fest. A large, diverse crowd gathered and started slowly dancing tango together. The partners were open, honest, carefree. The waterfront tango went on into the evening, speeding up as the sun went down.



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