As many of you know, in addition to running mvworks I am also the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at New York Live Arts, a non-profit organization formed out of the merger of Dance Theater Workshop and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Maintaining a balance between creating work and running my own dance company, and promoting hundreds of inspired movement based artists and the institution that supports them has always been challenging. I continue to negotiate and redistribute these scales as necessary because each company gives back in ways that continue to surprise and delight me. Every year I learn more and grow as an artist, an arts administrator, and a person. The past two weeks are a wonderful example of how these worlds complement and compete with each other.
On September 16 New York Live Arts opened it doors with performances of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. To say that it was a gargantuan project to transform into New York Live Arts from Dance Theater Workshop may very well be an understatement, but on Friday night as the lobby hummed with conversation and passersby stopped on the sidewalk wondering what the excitement was all about we had finally arrived. The performances were powerful. And for those of us that acknowledged the beauty of opening the organization with pieces that premiered at Dance Theater Workshop over 30 years ago and had not been seen in New York since, found the evening poignant and elegant.
As part of the opening program Bill T. Jones and Carla Peterson invited artists from throughout the dance community to appear as guest performers in Continuous Replay, a work created by Arnie Zane and reconstructed by Jones. I was lucky enough to be one of the staff members asked to perform. At first I was hesitant. I have worked in that building for over eight years, and never have the administrator artist lines been merged/blurred so clearly. It didn’t help that Continuous Replay begins in the nude (guests are of course permitted to start clothed, but the work is envisioned as a accumulation of movement, space, clothing and more). As I debated what was the most “professional” thing to do as an artist and as an administrator I nearly talked myself out of performing. Thankfully a dear friend encouraged me to just do it for myself, and not as part of any self imposed role. So on Wednesday and Thursday night, Sep 21 and 22 respectively, I found myself backstage getting ready to step onto the stage that I have watched countless numbers of others dance on for years. A privilege I was certain I would never experience.
The performances were surreal (particularly Thursday when I opted to begin nude with the rest of the performers). Never in my life would I have imagined that not only would I perform on that stage while I still worked for the institution, I would have said that hell would have to frieze over before I showed my derrière. Well, so much for boundaries. I performed nude with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company during one of the most debated openings in recent dance history for an institution whose brand and public presence is my responsibility. It still feels like a dream where I wake up feeling silly for even subconsciously thinking it could be possible.
Of course, as life and schedules would have it ,this was also the week mvworks was headed into a three day intensive rehearsal period. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the company continued to push our current project, Hold my Hand, forward. The piece has shifted dramatically in the past month-and-a-half and during our intensive it continued to ground itself deeper in this new approach. We have let go of many of the previous guiding principles (such as the performers relating to one particular area of the audience) and have found new life in a work that was beginning to feel stymied.
Overlapping of this proportion has never happened, in fact I would say I have tried to avoid it. But the during the week of September 12th and 19th, 2011 all of the barriers came crashing down. I was a dancer, a choreographer, and an administrator and I loved it.