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.
As mvworks closes out our fifth anniversary we are grateful to numerous groups, dancers to donors, technicians to translators, and many, many others. mvworks is blessed to have so many individuals contribute to our growth and success. The past five years have been full of tremendous accomplishment. In 2005, mvworks began essentially as a choreographer/dancer showcasing a solo. Today, we are an internationally touring company employing over 15 highly talented dancers and collaborators for numerous projects. We are committed to our vision and will continue to build upon on our success.
2010 brought with it several great opportunities. We launched the year in January with the rare occasion of remounting our last evening-length work, …within us., during the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference. As a direct result, we were invited to Coyoácan, Mexico for our first international tour in November. Additionally, Artistic Director, Megan V. Sprenger, sat on the Dance Theater Workshop Fresh Tracks artist selection panel, a premier emerging artist platform. mvworks also participated in One-Shot, a new video dance program created to maximize existing resources to spark creativity and community. This project signaled mvworks’ first foray into video choreography.
As outstanding as 2010 has been, 2011 is projected to be just as exciting. We are well under way in the development of our next major project “Hold my hand,” a quintet investigating communication and the need to feel connected to one another. In February, Ms. Sprenger’s curated program Am I too Close? will be shown at the 92nd Street Y through their Friday’s at Noon Series. mvworks is also in conversation with several different organizations and colleges regarding work in the 2011 – 2012 season. As projects develop, we will keep you updated.
As you know, mvworks’ success would not be possible without the generosity of our donors. mvworks has been overwhelmed by the support provided this year as we recognize the difficulties of donating during these uncertain times. A contribution of any size will make a tremendous difference as close out this amazing year and prepare for another rewarding season. Without you mvworks is just a dream, with you it is a vibrant, passionate company creating and touring “thrilling work” (This Week in New York) that “demands attention” (The New York Times).
Wishing you the warmest of Holiday Seasons,
The passports have been dusted off, the set is on the road, and the dancers are in rehearsal. …within us. is back and we are thrilled by this chance to share our work with an international audience.
This opportunity marks mvworks’ first tour and would not be possible without the continued support of our followers.
Be a part of this milestone accomplishment.
Support mvworks’ tour to Mexico!
about Danza UNAM
On Friday night I sat on the Simulation: Living the Simulacra round table as part of Prelude.10 Festival. The spirited conversation roved around the value of Live Performance: “Why does performance that asks us to be inquisitive and socially engaged human beings matter?” I was there mainly as the Director of Marketing for Dance Theater Workshop, with other speakers Kimon Keramidas, Reid Farrington, Andrew Schneider, Reggie Watts, Kevin Cunningham, Eric Dyer, and Tanya Selvaratnam. None of which I had met before, many of whom I have admired from a far. The conversation was lively, and peaked around ideas of visceral connection, proximity, and the joy of when a performance goes awry and both the audience and performers share a feeling of possibility.
Since the panel I have been thinking more specifically about what is it is to share experience. It seemed that whenever the panel agreed on something “being effective” or truly “live”, it was because the audience member could feel what was happening (breath, anticipation, wonder, authenticity). This is a key issue for me as an artist. My investigation is rooted in electrifying the relationship between audience and performer. I believe this kind of charged space is absolutely crucial to open pathways for abstract communication that leads to emotional shifts in the viewer. This kind of performance must exist to create room for reflection on humanity (maybe more specifically society), and hopefully allows for progress to be made in the individuals understanding of other, one another, and self.
2010 has been a milestone year for mvworks and in the coming months we are embarking into new territory. In these next weeks Artistic Director, Megan V. Sprenger, will sit on the Dance Theater Workshop Fresh Tracks Artist Selection Panel. Fresh Tracks, a premier emerging artist platform provides six emerging artists with unparalleled visibility and creative support. In February, Ms. Sprenger will curate Am I too Close? a Friday’s at Noon work-in-progress showing at the 92nd Street Y. These two events continue the expansion of mvworks and will surely bring greater opportunities.
In addition, we are proud to announce that this fall includes two new performance opportunities. First, on September 26th mvworks will be participating in One-Shot, a new video dance program created to maximize the creativity of one choreographer/dancer in collaboration with one film maker for a one-time intensive six hour period. The resulting piece will live online in perpetuity. This project signals mvworks’ first foray into video choreography.
Second, this November mvworks is touring to Coyoacán, Mexico for our first international performances! Our most recent critically acclaimed work, “…within us”, will open the Mexico/US Contemporary Dance Festival presented by DanzaUNAM. We are thrilled by this chance to share our work with another community, and to spread the artistic ideals and principles of both Jacob Landau and mvworks.
Last, but certainly not least, we are in the midst of creating our next major work, “Hold my hand.” After our recent residency in Princeton, NJ the company has been hard at work creating new movement, exploring the order of the dance, and digging deeper in to the root of human connection and social anxiety.
Over the next couple of months we will have you in our thoughts. Every success is shared with you, our supporters, and we cannot extend a large enough thank you for your continued well wishes, donations, and support.
In sincere appreciation,
Megan V. Sprenger
mvworks is busy this fall with work from NYC to Coyoacán, Mexico! This weekend we head to Princeton, New Jersey for our cherished Egg South Residency. Kendra, Michael, and Yarden will be joining us for the first time and Tara and Alli know the drill. I am counting the days until we leave. Egg South has repeatedly been a time of great discovery, forward motion, and laughter.
Up until this point we have been in heavy research and development. Creating movement, duets, trios, solos and trying different combinations of all of the above. This weekend we will try several different choreographic structures and then show a small group of loyal supporters what we’ve come up with. I look forward to getting more feedback, and getting the dancers in front of another audience. Watch out Banyan Rd. here we come!
Tomorrow marks the end of Susan Marshall and Company’s SUMAC (Systems for Understanding Movement and Choreography) Intensive. I have relished this 6 day escape into dance, movement, choreography, and the inevitable muscle soreness. I have learned a great deal, and have enjoyed the group immensely.
There is a certain nostalgia that comes with this kind of intensive. Remembrance of days when sitting at desk never crossed my mind, and a day full of dancing was expected. I hope that someday, I will again find a daily dancing practice. In the meantime I vow to you, my few but loyal blog readers, and to myself that I will take these movement holidays more often.
mvworks just turned 5! Honestly I can’t believe it, but if we were founded in 2005 (which we were) then it is so and there are so many people to thank.
mvworks has been and is blessed with amazing dancers (Alli, Kendra, Michael, Maria, Tara, Richert, Yarden), kick ass designers (Aaron, Brad, Jason, Joe, Mary), loyal donors (huge thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Sprenger and Mr. and Mrs. D’Augusta more amazingness here), and courageous audiences. What else could a choreographer ask for? Well, I’m asking for more. These past five years were just the beginning. mvworks is larger and stronger than ever, and we are headed with full force into the next five. Join us as we raise a glass and celebrate our accomplishments and work to bring powerful performance to every single person willing to experience it.
Check out this article on ArtForum.com: Stage Struck.
Claudia and I bumped into each other at the On the Boards event at PS122 which announced their new program OtB TV. [more info here]