Posts tagged with "Dance":

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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). “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.
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Product> Contract Furnishings & Materials: Six picks from this year’s NeoCon

As thinking on workplace design continues to evolve—should we stand or sit? Collaborate or isolate? Specialize or multi-task?—the need for comfortable, well organized, and aesthetic environments remains unquestioned. Here are a few items from NeoCon 2014 that caught our attention. Soto II Tools Steelcase A collection of multi-functional organizers leverages the limited desktop space of the modern office. Includes monitor bridge, shelves, and USB hub. Dance 3Form Bent wire courses across the interlayer of this resin panel, part of the new Full Circle collection. Handcrafted by artisans in Senegal. Overlay, Nexus Collection Knoll Textiles Despite its textured appearance, this pattern is a flat print. The design was developed using hand-modified, randomizing software. In eight colorways; 54-inch repeat. Designed by Kari Pei. Breaking Form Mohawk Group Tessellated geometric patterns that can be configured in numerous ways are offered in a durable nylon 12-inch-by-36-inch plank format. Designed by Mac Stopa, Massive Design. M4 Executive Chair Sokoa Back, seat, and headrest are 100-percent mesh, providing a responsive, custom seating experience. Also offered in manager, operator, and conference models. Designed in collaboration with Martin Ballendat. IN FORm AV Video Conferencing Suite Innovant This portable, self-contained set-up affords efficient installation of video conferencing facilities, particularly in open-plan locations. Power cables run inside the legs of the tables.
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Review> Engineering and Design Common Themes in Films at SXSW 2014

At this year’s SXSW Festival, engineering took center stage in the documentary DamNation (directors Travis Rummel & Ben Knight), which won the Documentary Spotlight Audience Award. It begins with America’s rash of dam-building under FDR when these mammoth structures were considered man-made wonders. Hoover and Grand Coulee are the large-scale examples, but there were about 80,000 smaller dams built across the country. That level of admiration has collapsed as we have come to understand that dam construction went overboard and the consequences were detrimental to wildlife and the environment—and may not have provided the energy, shipping, irrigation, drinking water, and flood control that was expected (who knew that high levels of methane gas are released from reservoir surfaces?). About a quarter of existing dams are considered highly hazardous, and only 2,540 actually produce hydropower, accounting for approximately nine percent of U.S. energy supply. Further, dams block salmon and other fish migration (if it stops the water, it stops the fish…and the entire ecosystem) and degrades water quality by blocking flow. The politics of “reclamation” is questioned. The argument for dam removal is eloquently and humorously made. Think of the definition of dam: “To obstruct or restrain the flow.” 05-sxsw-review-2014-morris-archpaper Also scaling an engineering feat, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, is the film Impossible Light (director Jeremy Ambers) which chronicles Leo Villeareal’s 25,000 LED lights Bay Lights project, the world’s largest light sculpture at 1.8 miles long and 500 feet high. The nightly dust-to-dawn light show is streamed online at thebaylights.org. Considered the ugly stepsister of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge is actually complex of two bridges (one double-suspension, the other cantilever) comprising one of the longest spans of any in the States. The bridge has been enlivened by this installation which was a political and technical accomplishment as much as an artistic one, not unlike the erection of the bridge itself. Another determined artist who scales buildings is dancer Elizabeth Streb. Not just a choreographer, she has been called an “extreme action architect” for the gravity-defying movement she calls “Popaction.” In Born to Fly (director Catherine Gund), we not only follow her dancers in their Williamsburg studio but go to the London Olympics where they are suspended from Norman Foster’s Millennium Bridge, climb the spokes of the London Eye Ferris Wheel, leap in Trafalgar Square, and walk down the curved glass facade of Foster’s City Hall.   Eleanor Ambos Interiors (director Andrew Michael Ellis) shows the eccentric 86-year old interior designer who has collected buildings as well as furnishings. She now rents out these spaces for events and photo shoots. The buildings were acquired to warehouse her ever-growing collection that she originally used to furnish her clients’ homes, but she just couldn’t stop. The Metropolitan Building in Long Island City is one, and others are in Hudson, NY. Losing her sight to macular degeneration has slowed but not stopped Eleanor. Print the Legend (directors Luis Lopez & Clay Tweel) on 3D printing, Font Men (director Dress Code) about typeface designers, and Pioneer Palace (director Andrew McAllister) about a town that was originally an Old West motion picture set built in the 1940s and the revived honky-tonk Pappy and Harriet’s, are among the other selections. Profiles of artists included Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace (director Jeff Dupre), David Hockney IN THE NOW (in six minutes) (director Lucy Walker), Obey the Artist (director Ondi Timoner) about Shepard Fairey, best known for the Obama "Hope" poster, and The Case of the Three Sided Dream (director Adam Kahan) about jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk which will be playing at the IFC Center on June 11 as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.
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On View> Dara Friedman’s New Film Dances Through City Streets, Now Showing in Los Angeles

Hammer Projects: Dara Friedman Hammer Museum 10899 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles Through April 14 Miami-based artist Dara Friedman is known for her black and white films of dancers dancing through city streets. For her film Dancer (2011) she used a 16mm camera to examine urban space and individuals within these spaces, filming improvisational dancers in a variety of styles, from flamenco, to ballet, to belly and break dancing, and more. In her work, Friedman also investigates accepted concepts of performance-based art. Her grainy films sometimes capture the sounds of street traffic, and she sometimes dubs music that is not always in rhythm with the dancers’ movements. For her first exhibition in Los Angeles, Friedman has prepared an 8mm film that is a follow-up to Dancer.