To the untrained eye, the first several weeks of each January in New York might seem sleepy and inoffensive. Little would you know of the torrent of activity and creativity stirring within the city’s theaters that is APAP—the conference in conjunction with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the numerous showcases and festivals that align with it, an often fraught meeting place of presenters and choreographers.
The pursuit of an original use for space in a dance work often seems a fraught subject for the choreographer, perhaps under the increasing pressure to challenge the conventions of audience-performer relationships.
In the 70s, dancing and sex were not at all dangerous, and there was a lot of both going around, the performer, choreographer, dance curator, and educator Ishmael Houston-Jones told me in a coffee shop this October. There was a sort of exuberance, especially coming after Stonewall and 69. There was this feeling in the gay world that life was this celebration. And suddenly 1981 happens, and its like a brick wall.
You may have heard buzz about the development of The Shed—a mammoth of a contemporary performance space being built on the Hudson Yards, visible from the end of the High Line—which is speeding along by city construction standards in time for its 2019 opening. The Shed’s austere glass-and-steel beam architecture boasts a fully mobile cover that perplexingly unsheaths itself like a turtle from its shell.
Aynsley Vandenbroucke’s AND lives in the wide little Underground Theater of Abrons Arts Center with a particular intimacy conjured by a piece about structures and spaces. The stage’s three shallowly angled walls are treated as screens. Two chairs and tables, touting their own Ikea-ness, are in the center of the space with a microphone.
Like many too young to have seen Tanztheater Wuppertal in New York when Pina Bausch was still alive, my first experience was through the film Pina (2011), a phenomenal way to grasp how and where a Bausch work will hit you: like a wrecking ball to the gut.