Today I had the pleasure of experiencing my first curated performance. When asked by Catherine Tharin to curate a 92Y Fridays at Noon, I immediately knew that I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight artists who work with the audience performer relationship as a key element of their investigation. Soon after, I asked both Yanira Castro and Sarah Maxfield to share the program with me (as part of the guest curator program at the Y the curator must also show work). I have followed both of these women’s work for several years, and I could not be more grateful that they accepted my invitation.
Today, audience members experienced three distinctly different but connected performances. The afternoon began with Yanira’s Wilderness: a paradis, a new work that is a companion piece to Wilderness presented by Dance Theater Workshop at The Invisible Dog Art Center this past fall. With most of the audience gathered in a corner of the room, Yanira’s dancers approached, weaving through audience members with movement ranging from quiet and intricate to large and bold. The phrasing flooded forward towards the audience and retreated like waves of energy washing through the space. Towards the end a few audience members were directly asked to follow individual performers to a new location and to watch them specifically. Quietly a song began. The work ended with an audience member sharing an apple with a performer. It was the perfect opening sequence, asking the audience to give focus, take control of their own viewing experience, and risk a certain degree of comfort.
Next, Sarah Maxfield presented We deserve each other, a new work to be premiered at The Chocolate Factory in March. For several months now, Sarah has been creating solos dedicated to ,and inspired by, members of her community. Growing out of that project, We deserve each other is, as Ms. Tharin put it, “a Valentine” to the performing arts community. More theatrical in nature, the piece referenced several performances (Heather Kravas to Ishmael Houston Jones to Karen Finley…) and performance venues (Performance Space 122, Danspace Project, La Mamma…). Bringing all in the room, regardless of their performance experience, into her world where artistic expression is sharing an environment, a moment in time. We ate black and white cookies, thought of our first city experiences, and remembered performances that reverberated through the field. It was poignant without being sappy. It was genuine.
I will leave it to some one else to speak about my work, but I will say that I was proud of each of my dancers. Alli, Kendra, Meg, Michael, and Tara each performed beautifully, giving pieces of themselves to the audience and guiding us into the heart of the work.
It was a great day.