Today was our first full day in New York City, as part of the APAP trip. And what a day it was! To start off, we all woke early, and went to our first New York morning meeting. Eight in the morning saw all of us, minus Professor Donovan, who met us at the conference, sitting around Professor Secor’s suite discussing our pre-conference forums for the day. The way that the morning ran was that we each picked two forums to attend, usually in small groups. Here is the point in this blog where you get to see what I, personally, attended.
My first forum was entitled “Building Parallel Spaces for Engaged Practice”. It was a panel of six presenters who all spoke on the idea of drawing in an audience of the “less enfranchised”. Two speakers were particular standouts. The first was Kemi Ilesanmi, the Executive Director of The Laundromat Project. This project/organization was based around the idea of bringing resident artists into Laundromats across the city of New York and having them interact with the community by creating art and inspiring conversation. One of the examples she used was an artist who taught yoga lessons to people in a very poor part of the city. Using the laundromat as her base, she then took body prints of her students and hung them, displaying them as art. Another artist created a bench out of books outside of her local laundromat, in a neighborhood where the public library had been closed for over a year. Through use of donated books, she sparked conversation and made a book swap center, providing people with accessible literature. The other speaker at this forum who really inspired the audience was Baraka Sele. She is an independent producer who also worked a long span as the Assistant Vice President of Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She spoke to the idea of getting to know your audience and building an audience based off of the community already in place. The example she used was the LGBT festival, which she helped create in response to the large amount of homophobia she discovered in Newark. The forum took an interesting turn when Ms. Sele took offense to a question asked by an audience member, in which the member referred to people of color as the “non-white” audience. All in all, a rather eye-opening forum, and a great way to start the day.
Next came lunch, which I only mention because, on the recommendation of several people, I tried the “New York’s Best Shawarma” stand. It truly did live up to the name, in case you’re wondering.
Now came the second forum, which for myself and a few other students was the forum put on b the founders of the brand new Prototype festival, which is a festival focusing on new works within the field of “opera theater”. The speakers included a director, a writer, and many producers who are working on changing the face of this field, which many see as dated. The main focus of the forum, however, was on the ever-changing needs of artists in this form. In direct opposition to popular belief, producers are no longer looking for the traditional, usually large, singers, but are now every bit as demanding as any other theatrical field. What followed was essentially a long conversation on the nature of the music, much of which, admittedly, went over my head. However, this did make me incredibly excited to see “Sumeida’s Song” , which is one of the operas they spoke about.
Following a break, we headed to dinner at La Luncheonette, the French restaurant, before heading to the FOCUS dance festival. Always looking to try new things, I decided to be adventurous and try a skate wing for dinner. IT actually was incredibly good, and has my recommendation. Then it was off to the world of dance. We saw two of the presentations of the FOCUS dance festival; Eiko & Koma and John Jasperse. The first act was Eiko and Koma, an older Japanese couple who performed two pieces: “White Dance” and “Flower Dance”. Both pieces featured the duo’s signature glacial movement, as well as choice bold movements that broke the monotony. The first piece, for instance, ended as the male dancer ran on stage and emptied two large rucksacks of potatoes. The second involved the female dancing beating her partner with a bouquet of wilted flowers. John Jasperse’s piece, entitled “Fort Blossom revisited”, featured four dancers; two women in red dresses and two naked men, performing movements meant to simulate and evoke the act of anal sex. A large portion of this piece featured what seemed to be a mixture of contact improv and manipulation of these large plastic shapes, similar to blow up chairs, which they threw, sat on, and even strapped to their backs. Both these presentations really gave a sense of the modern, and more abstracted, forms of dance that are being produced today.
Closing out the night was another choice. While one group went to see singer Maya Azucena at The Apollo (pictured below), I went with the other group to the City Center to see a dance show by choreographer Lulu Washington. Despite some backtracking and getting lost, we eventually caught the end of this show. The company, entirely African-American, was clad in white dance attire, with the exception of one man, who was wearing bike shorts and a purple fedora. This show featured dancing of the kind that we commonly associate with modern or lyrical, with a lot of flowing line and quick movements. It was a very solid performance, and a nice way to end the evening of dance.
Below are pictures from our last two days, as a catch up!:
Posted by BCRC Admin on 01/12 at 02:15 AM