by Terry Girard
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.
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.
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.
This past Sunday I had the honor of inaugurating a new online video dane relay curated by Sarah Maxfield and created and performed at Gibney Dance Center. The program includes one six hour residency and one (“one-shot”) filming.
The resulting video is online here.
Please join the comments and let me know what you think.
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