Posts tagged with "Dance":

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Solange responds to the architecture of the Getty Museum in her newest performance piece

The Getty Museum at golden hour was Solange Knowles’s chosen backdrop for Bridge-s, a site-specific movement piece where dancers, vocalists, and musicians harmonized with the Knowles’s jazz-inspired composition. The performance artwork was a collaboration between Solange and artists Gerard & Kelly (no strangers to art-architecture confluences), but Knowles was responsible for the entire musical score. It’s title, Counting, echoes of the theme of transience and time throughout the piece, a sharp juxtaposition with the seemingly indestructible architecture of the Richard Meier-designed Getty enveloping it. Opened to the public on November 16, Bridge-s performers held crowds in a trance for the almost hour-long performance. The troupe, all dressed in a golden palette of marigold, brown, and orange, shimmered in the L.A. sunset. Solange described the abstract piece as a meditation on the natural cycles of space and time, held in tension with the human actor that moves, contorts, and changes through body and sound. The environmental context of Bridge-s, the Los Angeles hills and the materiality of the Getty, were as integral to the art piece as the choreography or the notes emanating from the horns, as it was the vessel in which her performance used physicality to interpret this theme. So far Solange has had an excellent track record working with and responding to great architectures. She has staged similar interventions within the fabric of institutions including the Guggenheim and Hammer museums since the release of her critically acclaimed record, Don’t Touch My Hair. Invigorating the movements of her dancers through choreography that responds to the designed spaces that form their context, her ephemeral performances attest to her multi-disciplinary artistic aspirations. She forms new combinations with each project, centered around themes such as the black experience, Western aesthetics, and color theory.  Solange's cast for Bridge-s was made up entirely of people of color, a continuation of her commitment to uplifting black artists through her work and collaborations from her earliest stints at video and performance art. The dancers’ movements were cyclic, weaving between gestures of intimacy and connection, but also prone to breaks. Often concentrated in the form of a duo, Gerard & Kelly's choreography demonstrated the cruelty of disassociation—one piece of choreography shows a dancer stepping not over, but purposefully on the prostrate body of another on the ground. Other instances show the dancers moving more like a chorus, uniting as one body to lift up musicians mid-solo, or flowing into a throne to elevate specific movers high into the air. The bodies of her performers created new architectures by themselves as well as using every staircase, aperture, and platform available in the Getty courtyard.  Despite being the centerpiece of the Getty’s public program this weekend of speakers, film screenings, and performances, the closing words of Bridge-s were sharply self-conscious, reflecting on the importance as well as the futility of the built environment, and the Getty as host. Performers closed out the piece by robotically repeating a warning: “The house that was built could crumble at any time.” 
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Gerard & Kelly draped Villa Savoye in flesh to explore modernism's sensuality

Multidisciplinary artists Gerard & Kelly’s Modern Living is a dance performance that has been presented in a series of famous modern houses, including Philip Johnson’s Glass House, the Schindler House, and Mies Van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. This dance troupe cavorts through the spaces of each house to explore, in their words “intimacy and domestic space within legacies of modernist architecture.” There is additionally an emphasis on an exploration of “queer space,” where voyeurism and exhibitionism are uncovered through the interaction between the dancers through the transparency of the rooms they explore. The latest incarnation of Modern Living ran from September 28 through October 6 in Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, completed in 1930 in Poissy, a suburb of Paris. Probably his most famous house, at the time it was an astoundingly radical image of a floating white pavilion elevated on thin columns above the flat lawn below. It is shocking even now, and reminds us of Frank Lloyd Wright’s comment that “human houses should not be like boxes blazing in the sun.” It was a complete rejection of all things Beaux Arts and classical. Where a house was rooted firmly on the ground, this modernist villa hovered above; in place of small windows punched into a wall, it had a continuous horizontal strip of glass; where a gable roof would provide shelter, there is a flat roof terrace of paving and plants. Compared to the excessive ornament of the Beaux Arts, and even contemporary Art Deco interiors such as that of Robert Mallet-Stevens, the Villa Savoye is abstract and stripped bare. The walls are stucco, the only ornament is the occasional highlight of a deeply saturated painted color—architecture is reduced to space, form, and light, the house is essentially as “naked” as the Greek ruins that Le Corbusier admired. Villa Savoye first appeared in Le Corbusier’s’ Complete Works in grainy black and white photos, with barely any furniture inside. The Savoye family only lived there briefly, complaining that it leaked and was uninhabitable. The interior was seen briefly in a black and white film by Pierre Chenal in 1930 along with other Le Corbusier houses and his urban plan for Paris. It was occupied by the Germans, then the Americans in World War II, and was a derelict ruin used as hay barn until its restoration from 1985-97. Since then, it has been a mysteriously empty shell and absent of dance, even though Le Corbusier’s idea was that architecture is activated by the human presence in a “promenade architecturale,” as one walks through and around the forms and spaces of the house. In this sense, Gerard & Kelly have finally brought the Villa Savoye to life, in a choreographed work that is inspired in part by the purported affair of Le Corbusier with the singer and dance sensation of the 1920s Josephine Baker. Aboard an ocean liner from Buenos Aires to France, Le Corbusier met the black, American “chanteuse” who had performed in Paris and drew her nude. The Marilyn Monroe of the 1920s, Baker captivated the imagination of Adolf Loos as well, who designed a striped house for her on a corner in Paris, although there is no evidence she ever asked him to do so. Along with Cubism’s inspiration of African masks and culture as in Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, the perceived exoticism of Baker’s singing and dance had injected new life into these two uptight, polemical architects, certainly at odds with Le Corbusier’s Swiss Calvinist background. Baker went on to aid the French Resistance and became a Civil Rights activist, speaking at Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington. Taking Baker and Le Corbusier as a starting point, Gerard & Kelly’s six dancers glid, slid, sinuously snaked, and danced through the house, beginning at the entry, going up the ramp and spiral stair to the Grand Salon, then up the ramp to the roof terrace. Individually and together, singing and dancing to an insistent drumbeat, they joined to form a conga line through the master bedroom, then back down the ramp to the outside. Alongside the linear activity of the choreography, the dancers alternately formed pairs of male and female, black and white, gay and straight, gesturing to and intertwining with each other in intimate poses in relation to the internal architecture. They sporadically exposed various body parts, baring buttocks and breasts, draping themselves over the seductive curves of the spiral stair, and then outside on the roof terrace. The dance extracted the essence of the architecture as a magic box of possibility, where the audience and stage oscillate back and forth, creating an electrifying and exhilarating experience. Remarkably, at the end of the last performance, after the light rain stopped, a double rainbow emerged, a tribute not only to Gerard & Kelly’s multi-colored queer themes, but recalling da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, inscribed within the circle and square, the ultimate symbol of motion and stasis, and the harmony of architecture and humanity.  
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Researchers and students at ETH Zurich print complex columns for dance festival

For the Origen Festival in Riom, Switzerland students in the Masters of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication program at ETH Zurich, guided by researcher Ana Anton, 3D printed nine unique, computationally-designed columns with a new layered extrusion printing process developed at the university over the past year and a half. ETH students and researchers created nine unique, 9-foot-tall concrete columns that came together as an installation titled Concrete Choreography. The arrangement of undulating columns served as an environment for dance performances. “The columns create the stage and set for the artists to dance in between, in front, around, to hide, climb and interact in many ways with this unique, monolithic architecture,” explained Anton. “Each column has its own particular expressivity and dynamics, just like the dancers.” The students used an automated, formwork-less process, called Concrete Extrusion 3D Printing (CE3DP), a printing method that continuously deposits and extrudes concrete in .2-inch-thick layers to create complex geometries. Anton has been experimenting with the process for a year and a half, as part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between ETH's Digital Building Technologies and the chair of Physical Chemistry of Building Materials. Anton says that for the column’s nine unique forms, “students worked towards finding unique designs suitable to this fabrication method, meaning more fluid geometries locally detailed using material-driven ornament,” going on to say that the geometries they worked with are only possible because of the high-resolution printing of CE3DP. ETH’s Digital Building Technologies lab claims this method comes “with the advantage of precise, digitized shape customization [that is] ideal for the creation of freeform shapes that would be impossible to produce with any other technology on the market.” CE3DP also has the added advantage of being fast; the columns each took just 1.5-to–2.5 hours to create. According to Anton, “The forest of columns should work both as performance space but also as an outdoor installation which invites visitors to explore the garden before and after the dance.”
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Robots and poetry come alive at Black Imagination conference

On a humid, gray morning at Princeton in a cubic glass pavilion in a robot arm–equipped garage, architect Mario Gooden sat on a stool silently while discordant sounds emanated from two televisions flanking him that played images, barely visible under the sun streaming in through the translucent walls. Us viewers sat on the benches wrapping the room. Gooden moved his stool and sat again. Finally, he began speaking. Reading from a black folder he talked about space-time, general relativity, and black holes, and about the Black Panthers, being age 13, being American, cinema’s star-crossed lovers, the “image-city,” being in the wake, or being the wake. So began the second day of Black Imagination Matters (BIM, so named to “scramble” the usual meaning of the acronym in architecture), a two day conference organized by V. Mitch McEwen, which was the culmination of a month of workshops this past March and April which included prototyping fictive technologies from W.E.B. Du Bois’s recently-discovered short story “The Princess Steel” as well as choreography workshops with drones. This past weekend's events showcased numerous architects, theorists, writers, and artists thinking about “architechnipoetics,” or the intersections between the ways we make our world in bricks and circuits and words and movement. “You’re composing images with your body,” Gooden incanted over syncopated, and at times, dissonant sounds. Eventually he fell back to silence, though the soundtrack continued. At the end of Gooden’s silence, McEwen asked for our own. The sky cleared. Then, a slightly more usual panel with Jenn Nkiru, beth coleman, and Jerome Haferd. coleman began by asking one of the most difficult questions of all: “What would it be to be free?” Many others joined in during the conversation. In response to discourse on the spiritual and celestial, author Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, who presented later and then spoke in a panel alongside artist Mario Moore, offered that the many ways of telling and documenting time in various African traditions is something that, to some extent, can be known, and that the archive of such traditions, no matter how troubled, perhaps offers some grounding. The BIM Incubator was incredibly capacious for an event organized by an architecture school, bringing together poets, dancers, filmmakers, scholars, technologists, architects, and others who presented and celebrated inter- and antidisciplinary approaches to thinking about space, building, the future of the city, and the power of Blackness within it. Collaborative and open, BIM was modeled on Donna Haraway’s use of the notion of "sympoiesis," a process of collective making and knowledge production. Science fictions and science presents were blended throughout the event's discussions, most especially by Haferd, whose presentation on his projects in Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park began with Ursula K. Le Guin; Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, and Sun Ra all got namedropped throughout the day. Saturday’s events took place between Princeton’s Architecture Laboratory and the robot-outfitted Embodied Computation Lab. Rhythm; the water; terrestrial freedom; celestial freedom; the archive; the body; time; telling time; telling times; (im)permanence; the traps and powers, the uses and uselessness of representation; visibility and its transgression (what is secrecy and sacredness in an era of mass surveillance and documentation?, probed Nkiru); the meaning of “practice”; the problem of authenticity— these all were themes that were returned to throughout the day. The convening of so many people itself was a sort of architectural act, making a space through a day of ongoing interactions of speech, sound, images, and movement. And there was so much movement, especially for a university workshop, not only in Gooden’s multimedia performance but also in poet Douglas Kearney’s listening workshop during which he permitted participants to be as still or move as much as they felt to the music and sound he had created. Amina Blacksher next presented her double Dutch robots, two robot coordinated robot arms, that with the help of a human being, became semi-automated jump ropes. After Blacksher went first, people took turns trying to show off their skills. Despite their supposed “precision,” the robots have difficulty being as accurate, synchronized, and quick as young Black girls who jump rope, showing the incredible complexity of embodied and kinetic intelligence that is so often devalued and overlooked. Also working with robots, Lauren Vasey demonstrated the early stages of robots that used facial recognition to behave differently based on people's features, raising questions about the built-in algorithmic biases in new AI technologies. Then came an especially energetic three-person dance piece choreographed by Olivier Tarpaga titled WHEN BIRDS REFUSED TO FLY. All this motion suggested that perhaps architecture doesn’t stand, but rather, and more accurately, buildings balance. The day ended with sunset as Kyp Malone played his guitar and sang, accompanied by projections he’d designed.

Dancing – Alternative Designs for Clubs

Summary  The aim of the “dancing” competition is to develop design proposals for the nightclub typology, intended as a place to experience entertainment in relation to music: listen, perform, dance. The participants are asked to create innovative and unconventional projects on this theme, questioning the very basis of the notion of a club. Recently a series of new initiatives have emerged in relation to music entertainment and dance. While festivals and morning discos have extended the duration of musical events over the limited span of one night, silent discos and flash mobs exceeded the boundaries of the club, reinventing the way and the place where music events were occurring. In the meantime, music and dance have been used also for therapies and training, as means of self-improvement and realization.Technological advances and streaming services made music much more accessible, increasing consumption and drastically facilitating production and distribution. Within this context, with critical thinking and creative attitude, the participants are urged to create an artifact, merging considerable programmatic innovation and valuable design tools. the proposal can be a device, a piece of furniture, an interior design project, a pavilion, a building or an urban plan. The scale of intervention, program dimensions and location are not given and they can be arranged by the participants to better suit their project. Prizes WE DO NOT BELIEVE IN ONE WINNER Non architecture competitions wants to be unconventional also in the way it rewards its participants. The winners will be in fact three, all equally important. In addition 9 honourable mentions will be awarded. Each one of the 3 jury members will select one winner and four honourable mentions. The prizes are the following: Winners (3 Prizes) 1,000 euros Publication in the Non Architecture Competitions books Publication on the Non Architecture Competitions website Reviews in digital magazines and several architecture blogs 3 Books by DOM Publisher Honourable Mentions (9 Prizes) Publication in the Non Architecture Competitions books Publication on the Non Architecture Competitions website Reviews in digital magazines and several architecture blogs Finalists Publication in the Non Architecture Competitions books Jury & Calendar  Rebeca Sanchez & Miquel Clot – Directors at Ledscontrol Lukas Feireiss – Founder of Studio Lukas Feireiss Marc Roma Trepat Perez – Architect at B\TA & co-founder of Heads&Tails; INC 1–15 February 2018 – Special Registration (30 €) period 16 February-15 March 2018 – Early Registration (45 €) period 16 March -15 April 2018 – Regular Registration (60 €) period 16 April -27 April 2018 – Late Registration (75 €) period 15 April 2018 – Submission opened on our website 30 April 2018 – Submission Deadline (23.59 GMT+0) 21-26 May 2018 – Winners announcement 21 April 2018 – Call for Papers for the “Dancing – Non Architectural Clubs” book starts 21 May 2018 – Call for Papers for the “Dancing – Non Architectural Clubs” book ends 1 September 2018 – The “Dancing – Non Architectural Clubs” book is available DOWNLOAD THE BRIEF HERE
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Endurance art that explores ‘mastery’ in architecture and ballet

In many ways, architecture and ballet are natural accomplices. Both disciplines are irrevocably entwined with the body–as much as contemporary architectural practice tries to shirk this fact–and both are dedicated to the illusion of impossible ease, obscuring endless hours of grueling work and practice. But an exhibition opening this week in Chicago at the Graham Foundation strips away that mask. Instead, Brendan Fernandes: The Master and Form demonstrates the often perverse labor that goes into the pursuit of perfection. The Master and Form exhibition consists of a series of installations placed throughout the Madlener House, the Graham Foundation’s Prairie-style home, designed in collaboration with Chicago and New York-based practice Norman Kelley. These installations double as hyper-specific training devices on which dancers from the Joffrey Academy of Dance train their bodies into classic ballet poses, in performances of site-specific endurance art. “The exhibition is a means of exploring the relationship between mastery and masochism–what we do to our bodies, the pleasure and the pain–in service of aesthetic perfection,” said Fernandes, a former dancer and the 2017 Graham Foundation performance artist-in-residence. The Master and Form is also a kind of sculptural love affair between architecture and ballet. On the first floor of the Madlener House, three geometric wooden devices that look like creative coat stands occupy the foyer and two galleries. With Fernandes acting as ballet master, the dancers move repeatedly in and out of iconic poses, using the sculptures as guides to attain a more perfect form. On the second floor, three large-scale installations made of black metal piping occupy the east and west galleries. They resemble a cross between scaffolding and a pilates reformer. On these structures, dancers will bend their bodies into extreme postures and forms, stretching the limits of their strength and flexibility. The west gallery is also hung with pieces of thick rope, which serve as BDSM-style endurance devices for the dancers to hold onto with their arms overextended while moving between ballet positions on pointe, to the point of fatigue These performances are meant to elicit an intense intimacy between the dancers and the objects, as well as between the dancers and the audience, who will be standing close enough to hear them breathe and see them sweat. When the dancers are not present, three-way audio recordings of their movements will play in each room. Ellen Alderman, Managing Director of Public Programs at the Graham Foundation, said, “Sounds of pointe shoes moving across the old oak floor, creaks, the dancers breathing heavily, will elicit an experience of the physicality of the sculptures and the choreography that will draw the audience to their own bodies and experience of the space.” In addition to the sculptural instruments, Fernandes and Norman Kelley also designed a series of gestural arches and frames that echo existing and historical thresholds and windows in the Madlener House. These moments call attention to architecture’s most intimate moments in relation to the human body, and serve as another layer of sculptural circulation influencing the movement of bodies through the house. Performances are scheduled for four dates throughout the duration of the exhibition, including the opening reception. The exhibition closes on March 10. The Master and Form performance schedule (at the Graham Foundation, 4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL 60610): Thursday, January 25, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m. Opening Reception and Performance Thursday, February 1, 2018, 6–8:00 p.m. Talk by Jaffer Kolb Saturday, February 10, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance followed by Brendan Fernandes in conversation with Zachary Whittenburg Thursday, February 15, 6:00 p.m. Talk by Hendrik Folkerts followed by Q&A with Brendan Fernandes Saturday, February 17, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance Saturday, March 10, 1–3:00 p.m. Performance
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Guggenheim's rotunda animated by high-tech dance

If you were lucky enough to experience Falls the Shadow, you saw an event that could only have taken place at the Guggenheim Museum. Created for the building's spiraling rotunda and expansive ground floor as part of the museum's Works & Process Rotunda Projects initiative, this dance was designed to be seen from the rampways that coil upwards. But unlike a Busby Berkeley production number, where multiple dancers formulate dynamic patterns read in plan, this piece interplays the sinewy bodies of four dancers with the motion-activated videos that interact with them. Russian-born American Ballet Theater principal dancer Daniil Simkin, together with his father, Dmitrij, a former dancer who is the project’s video designer, have created a dance piece that maps in 3D. The dancers wear grey leotards with white stripes up the side, made by Dior, which activate motion sensors. An infrared camera scans the dancers’ outlines at 60 frames per second and transmits that information to a computer, which projects images around the dancers. The speed of the computer processing is crucial: “If there is a lag, the brain sees it as a technological trick,” Simkin told The New York Times. “If there is no lag… it is like magic, giving another layer to the movement.” Seen on the inside of the rotunda, as well as on the floor and on the dancers’ bodies, the projections are fluid and undulating. The digital patterns radiate like iron filings, spreading out from the movements of the dancers. At one point the dancers “throw” light force fields at each other, and then tumble upwards in concentric circles, in waves, in blocks of white. Often projection-related projects at the museum have been directed at the building's exterior, but in this project, they animate in its cylindrical interior. Falls the Shadow might refer to a novel based on the Dr. Who science fiction TV series or the T.S. Eliot poem, The Hollow Men, which uses it as a refrain. Text is part of this project as well, as phrases such as “Shape without form,” “Gesture without Motion,” “We Whisper Together,” and “Shade without Color” snake across the rotunda. The piece is a cohesive triumph, synchronizing choreography, music and imagery within the perfect container.
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How three choreographers impacted the art world, public space, feminism, and more

While the creative cross-pollination between Lawrence and Anna Halprin has been in the limelight in recent years, the Radical Bodies exhibition (at the New York Public Library Performing Arts branch) and catalog places much deserved attention on Anna Halprin’s impact as choreographer, performer, radical teacher and activist, as well as that of ‘two' of her students—Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer. The Radical Bodies story anchors around their encounter on Halprin’s dance deck in 1960 and presents a bi-coastal tale of three women choreographers whose radical visions of bodies impacted and entangled with the art world, political activism, and the cultural shifts between the Cold War and Vietnam War, civil rights and feminist movements. The exhibition presents photographs, videos, and documentaries, and original scores and drawings by Halprin, Forti, and Rainer. Each of the co-curators—Ninotchka D. Bennahum and Bruce Robertson (both of UC Santa Barbara) and Wendy Perron (formerly with Dance Magazine)—has contributed an essay to the catalog. Bennahum’s essay foregrounds Halprin’s commitment to an “ethic of repair.” Perron discusses the non-dualistic, post-human, and playful currents throughout Simone Forti’s work. Robertson addresses Yvonne Rainer’s relation to minimalism and “play with objects and bodies.” In their introduction, Bennahum and Roberson point out further links between Halprin, Forti, and Rainer: their diasporic experiences translated into activism; their challenging modernist dance doctrine; abandoning narrative and exploring improvisation; acknowledging different identities, bodies and species of movers. Each relocated dance from the theater to alternative spaces and challenged boundaries between dance, performance, sculpture, time-based media, and activism, feminist critique, and political protest. The exhibition draws our attention to the importance of the dance deck, the relation Forti and Rainer, in particular, had to “the downtown NY scene in the 1960s,” their “actions in public spaces.” The dance deck, designed by Lawrence Halprin with Arch Lauterer, is sited in the forest steps away from the Halprin residence. While mimicking proscenium stage proportions, the deck presented a radically different working environment, enveloping movers in the sounds of wildlife and no mirrored walls. Workshops here cultivated a literal getting in touch with an “organic” understanding of bodies in continuity with the environment. After Rainer’s experience improvising in the wild on Halprin’s dance deck, she, not surprisingly, sought out an alternative environment in which to practice and more regularly and informally present work. The flat floor and non-hierarchical space of the Judson Church gym became the “deck” of the east coast where the downtown community saw and participated in experimental performances. Photographs in the exhibition make evident overlaps within the 60s downtown community between choreographers, visual artists, and composers; between west and east coast; and between those affiliated with pop, fluxus, minimal, and conceptual art. In addition to Rainer sipping drinks with Andy Warhol, we see visual artists Carolee Schneemann, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Morris as participants and authors of hybrid visual art-dance works. Forti’s Slant Board (1961) materializes the hybridizations of minimal sculpture and task-oriented choreography (and has been reconstructed in the exhibition where you are invited to performed it). Such minimalist sculptural objects and readymades also emerged in Rainer’s work, such as Room Service (1965). Video footage of her Continuous Project-Altered Daily (1970) shows a playful collision between human and material objects, and slow relinquishing of authorship, indexing a cultural shift towards participatory and ‘open’ works. One artifact in particular—a listing similar to Richard Serra’s List of Verbs (1967-68)—caught my eye: Rainer’s List of Actions, Score for WAR (1970). It reads: … Infiltrate                                                                         escalate unite        (converge)                                                   sweep subvert                                                                           pursue liberate                                                                           remove capture                                                                           swell… Slippages between scores, instructions, poetry, sculpture, and choreography appear throughout the show, linking these three artists to their cultural moment. The exhibition and catalog also highlight actions in public spaces linking their work to urbanism and political activism. Halprin’s Blank Placard Dance (1967), in which a procession through city streets by performers carrying blank protest signs, was an important step towards civic engagement performances central to Halprin’s current work. Rainer’s Trio A With Flags (video), Street Action, and WAR (all from 1970) responded to the U.S. invasion of Cambodia and to arrests for desecrating the flag. These works nod and wink to Emma Goldman’s statement: “(i)f I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Performances from Halprin, Forti, and Rainer initiated both the west coast and east coast exhibitions. Forti’s improvisation was full of witty allusions comparing species of fish to the behavior of politicians. At the UC Santa Barbara Rainer performed Concept of Dust (2017), literally a “Continuous Project/Altered Annually,” layering older choreographed fragments with her deadpan reading of recent news. These prepared audiences for the climax—Halprin’s Paper Dance from Parades and Changes (1966-7). The New York performance was particularly eventful given that its last New York appearance in 1967 led to her being issued an arrest warrant for public indecency. The slow undressing and re-dressing of the dancers, while far from shocking today, remains both an exquisite and politically poignant work. New York’s Jody Arnhold can be credited for bringing Halprin’s “radical bodies back to the scene of the crime.” Along with Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer, she was radical, rebellious, visionary, and pro-actively dismantling hierarchies. They modeled engaged citizenship as a participatory choreography in public space, and there is no better time than the present to be reminded to get off our asses and dance, dance, dance. Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955 - 1972 is on view at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center through September 16, 2017.
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Live architecture-focused performances will debut across New York City this November

Performa, an organization dedicated to live performance across various disciplines, will be launching a new program centered around the relationship between architecture and performance in New York City for their seventh edition of the Performa Biennial. The program, titled Circulations, is comprised of site-specific live performances and architectural experimentations in iconic venues throughout the city. Through performance, Circulations aims to examine the movement of bodies in space while looking at how architecture exists in today’s built environment. “From our daily routines, to the spaces that Performa identifies as frame or backdrop for Performa Commissions, it is the built environment that shapes our behavior and impacts our understanding of space,” said RoseLee Goldberg, founding director and curator of Performa, in a press release. Projects by various architects will be brought to life. Montreal-based architect François Dallegret’s “The Environment-Bubble,” a blueprint envisioning a flexible dome capable of hosting multiple occupants, will become a (temporary) reality and roam the city as an inflatable structure, hosting dance workshops. Philip Johnson’s Glass House will be occupied by French artist Jimmy Robert, transforming the icon into a stage “that delves into the intersections of architecture, visibility, and black representation.” Other artists and architects will present installations and performances, including a collaboration between the Marching Cobras of New York, a Harlem-based after-school drum line and dance team, with Bryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson, architects and professors at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP). This performance, "Marching On," was commissioned by the Storefront for Art and Architecture. “New York, with its dense urban fabric and complex history—from its Downtown mystique to its real estate–driven present—is the ideal location for a program like this,” said Charles Aubin, principal curator of Circulations, in the press release. “The artists and architects treat the city as a platform for experimentation where human beings and their activities confront the built environment.” Performa will also be launching a publication focusing on historical and contemporary works by architects who have incorporated performance into their practice, as well as a symposium that further examines the historical relationship between buildings and cities. Circulations will take place from November 1 to 19, 2017.
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How James Ramsey of RAAD Studio, Carlos Arnaiz of CAZA, and BalletCollective turned design into dance

Troy Schumacher is a soloist with New York City Ballet, one of the most prestigious dance companies in the country. And while a job as a full-time athlete might be enough for some people, Schumacher is also the artistic director and choreographer for his own chamber-sized troupe, BalletCollective. All of its members are Schumacher’s fellow dancers at NYCB.

For the company’s latest performance at the New York University Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, Schumacher explored his observations of how human bodies respond to built space. He approached architects James Ramsey, founder of RAAD Studio, and Carlos Arnaiz, founder and principal of CAZA, to collaborate on a project that would turn design into dance. “Last season, I was already sold on the idea of working with architects because I thought our processes would be very similar,” said Schumacher. “Whether you’re creating performance or buildings, you’re thinking about something that has a larger scope but shows details. You’re thinking on two scales.”

Schumacher and his team took care to thoroughly investigate how the two disciplines could come together for a final project. “We discussed how our respective disciplines are organized, how we record our work, how we make changes to our work as we go, and how our respective practices overlap,” said Arnaiz.

It’s not unusual for architecture and dance to go hand in hand. Just last year, Steven Holl created set pieces for Jessica Lang Dance, while the Guggenheim Museum frequently holds performances in its iconic rotunda. But these dances coexist with built architectural elements—not so for BalletCollective. Instead, Schumacher chose to feature the dancers in a stripped-down environment. The stage at the Skirball center was entirely bare, with curtains lifted to reveal the dancers waiting on the sides, and their costumes were casual rehearsal wear. Until they started moving, there was no indication of the evening’s architectural component.

One of Schumacher’s strengths as a choreographer is his unusual way of using formations. He often asks one dancer to move against the group or pairs a tall woman with a short man. Trios and duets are widely spaced around the stage, playing out contrary to the traditional ballet structure of a principal couple and a shifting background of corps dancers. In Until the Walls Cave In, Ballet Collective dancers moved through lines, boxes or huddles that washed across the stage. Ramsey’s work, in comparison, also carves out space where heretofore there was none. “James’s work is about restoring or facilitating life in a place where it wouldn’t normally exist,” said Schumacher. “We were really driven by light, concrete spaces and the growth happening within them.”

For his part, Ramsey entered the collaboration unsure of what to expect. “I had little to no idea about the creative process for dance,” Ramsey said, “and I was completely blown away by how naturally our processes were able to mesh. Our conversations had to do with the life and death of human spaces, renewal, and the idea of tension as a dramatic architectural design tool.” Here, though, Schumacher might have picked something up from his collaborator. The start-stop energy of his choreography makes it nearly impossible to establish dramatic tension.

Arnaiz’s contribution involved one specific drawing, resulting in The Answer, a duet for Anthony Huxley and Rachel Hutsell. “Choreographers are always looking for new pathways,” said Schumacher. “Carlos emailed us a sketch on top of a photo of Allen Iverson. I was floored by the energy and idea behind it, and we just went with it.” Arnaiz wrote about Iverson in his recent monograph, reflecting on how static geometric forms are brought to life by the creative process of architecture. As a result, The Answer plays off friendly competition.

Huxley is an elegant dancer who, while still able to have fun, is quite serious onstage. Hutsell, who is just beginning her professional career, might be expected to be timid, especially dancing with Huxley (he is several ranks higher than her at NYCB). Instead, she’s remarkably grounded for a woman dancing in pointe shoes, which can complicate quick direction changes and off-balance steps. She eats up space with infectious energy. The dancers’ darting limbs seem to leave trails of lines and spirals across the stage, reminiscent of Arnaiz’s drawing.

Schumacher wasn’t worried about disappointing audiences who might have expected structures or set pieces designed by Ramsey and Arnaiz. “All the artists who contribute to BalletCollective are a source,” he said. “But invariably, the starting and ending point aren’t the same place. Asking for architectural input is about giving us a place to start.”

Arnaiz and Ramsey were both surprised at what that starting place was able to yield. “I’ve worked with musicians, but never with dancers,” said Arnaiz. “It was fascinating to see how something transformed from concept to physical performance.” Ramsey agreed: “Troy brought a level of clarity and rationalism to the projects that was startling, and even led me to understand my own work more succinctly.”

What Comes Next BalletCollective The NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Fall 2017 season to be announced late April.

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Tap dancer Michelle Dorrance (literally) plays the Guggenheim

The Guggenheim Museum was used like a beatbox on February 16 by MacArthur “Genius” and tap dancer Michelle Dorrance, in collaboration with Nicholas Van Young, in a performance in the rotunda as part of the museum's Works & Process series. This is the first in a long-running series to take place at the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda. With the audience snaked up the ramp, dancers performed on the floor as well as in strategically placed spots on the ramp. The dancers used boxes, tuned tubes, balls (which were floating in the fountain), hands, and of course their feet, to make percussive sounds. Like an updated Busby Berkeley production number where patterns are seen from above, the dancers had to find creative workarounds to the sounds made by their usual tap dancing—the noise was just too much and too muddled for the acoustics of the hall. The evening started with dancers pushing and playing with wooden boxes in a rhythmic and playful way. Other segments included tapping plastic tubes of different lengths (and therefore different pitches) on the walls of the ramp, pairs of dancers rapping smaller sticks together as they parried, silent conductor Van Young leading the audience in a round of controlled clapping, and performers drumming on different sized balls in the fountain. A double-bass and chimes made appearances, too. The dancers played with perspective as well. Their curtain call bows at the end of the performance had them bend forward from a horizontal position, i.e. laying down on the floor and bending forward to a seated position. They really did play the building. A video of the performance can be found here. Go the Guggenheim website for more on the Works & Process series.
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MCA Chicago unveils new logo, plans for image overhaul with help from Johnston Marklee

Change is underway at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. At a press conference Friday MCA officials revealed that the institution is working on a new image, new programming and even a new master plan for the museum's space led by Los Angeles–based design firm Johnston Marklee. The announcement was timed to coincide with the last push of a major fundraising campaign. The museum has quietly raised $60 million in recent years, nearing a “vision campaign” goal of $64 million. Today they revealed their latest donation: $10 million from Kenneth Griffin, an MCA trustee who is also the richest man in Illinois. MCA's fourth floor galleries will now bear his name. “We've been thinking about what a 21st Century museum looks like,” said Madeleine Grynsztejn, MCA's director. Citing figures from the National Endowment for the Arts, Grynsztejn said the museum needs to become more “responsive” to the community—“a civic institution of local necessity and international distinction.” Part of that mission includes converting the cafe space into an “engagement zone” for public events, performances and education. Museum goers looking for a snack will have to find it on the first floor, where a new restaurant will front onto Pearson Street. Those and other changes to the 1996, Josef Paul Kleihues–designed building's programming are part of a new masterplan currently in development at the offices of architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. Dutch designers Armand Mevis and Linda Van Deursen of the firm Mevis & Van Deursen also designed a new logo for the museum—part of a larger campaign to rebrand the museum and reengage with a public tempted to seek out art online or otherwise outside the Streeterville museum's walls. MCA has had some success reinvigorating popular conversation about contemporary art with its David Bowie Is exhibition, which recently wrapped up its run at the museum after drawing nearly 200,000 visitors—an MCA record, according to Grynsztejn. “The Bowie show challenged the MCA to raise our game,” she said. That could include expanding hours or more drastically reconsidering the museum's model, Grynsztejn wondered aloud Friday. But it will definitely include more shows for young artists on the cusp of a breakout, said curator Michael Darling, as well as more interactive exhibitions. Darling pointed to an upcoming residency by the Grammy-winning chamber group Eighth Blackbird, which he said would include unannounced and improvised performances throughout the museum, with the intent to connect the public with contemporary music and the process of creating it.