Once again I find myself back in NYC. I arrived at the end of January and will be here until May, mainly to work on a project for my twin sister's thesis (for her BA in photography at Parsons' The New School), but of course I am trying to squirrel away some dance experiences at the same time.
There are a trillion billion (well, maybe not quite that many) things I could be doing and watching and experiencing in NYC, and its hard to not get caught up with frustration at the countless, countless things I miss due to the constant restraints of time and money, or by not being on it enough to know its even happening!
But, before I came I did set my self the goal of going to 2 specific classes a week for the duration of my stay. These are Barbara Mahler's Klein technique class and a Gaga class. Barbara is a wealth of knowledge and going to her class is like having a non verbal anatomy class, or going to see a chiropractor - I come out feeling taller!
Although I have yet to find a teacher that matches Chisato Shemesh's (she is based in London http://www.facebook.com/GagaPeopleLondon?fref=ts) skill at sharing the Gaga experience it's so good to be doing this technique on a regular basis. For me its feels like a three dimensional, detailed dance, and moving in this way has taught me a lot.
My visit also happened to coincide with (Marten Spanberg's), so I have been doing a bit of brain expanding, regularly attending his 'Dancing Seminar' at MoMa Ps1 (http://momaps1.org/), a Queen's based outpost of the MoMa.
These happened for three hours, twice a week, for six weeks, the concept being that for these thirty six hours Marten would open his mouth and talk - his mouth doing the dancing. When asked by MoMa PS1 to do something 'dancey' Marten felt there was enough dance in NYC, what was needed was more dialogue, something which struck a chord for me, as I feel the same about the UK, specifically my base of Manchester.
Topics ranged from warriors, to jealousy, to the cuurent popularity of dance in the art world/major museums, philosophy and much more. Whilst Marten's hyper brain and years of accumulated knowledge sometimes left me feeling dumb, I mainly feel lucky to have had the time and opportunity to listen and digest - and I am still digesting, like when you learn new movement and need to sleep on it.
Marten has a great skill at being painstakingly contemporary, whilst historically contextulising everything, and linking in to a plethora of different genres - architecture, graphic design, philosophy. I also managed to catch a performance, which was the result of a series of workshops Marten taught while he was here (this being one of the things I missed due to lack of $).
It was a slow burner, one of those pieces that creeps up on you, and then suddenly you think, 'hey! This is pretty dam good'. Like his Dancing Seminars it was quietly penetrating, with both a simplicity and complexity, all bound up in a hip exterior. For those of you in the North of England (and those in the South, come up and see us!) Marten's work will be performed at the Manchester International Festival in July (http://www.mif.co.uk/event/epic)
Last week I managed to catch the Monday night showings at Judson Memorial Church for the first time since I arrived. This is curated by Movement Research (http://www.movementresearch.org/) and is for artists to show work in progress.
While I have never been massively impressed with the work I've seen there I enjoying going for the diversity, seeing live performance on a regular basis, it's low cost (free or a donation) and to spend some time in the Judson Memorial Church. It's an epic space, and having read about it so many times and its place in sixties postmodern art/dance it seems, for me, a historic and important space. And I like to think a bit of that history is seeping in to my bones every time I go there.
Which is where I am heading right now.....