Dance Alive and Well in New Mexico
Shift Dance has done it! Created an interesting, solid, successful dance festival. They’ve been smart enough to start small, include the local dance community and bring in artists from out of state who added diversity, polish and another perspective.
The opening night performances by Shift Dance founders and Albuquerque dance artists (choreographers Donna Jewell, Kelsey Paschich, Jacqueline Garcia and Lisa Nevada) represented contemporary dance with professionalism and imagination; the second night Allie Hankins offered up an absolutely delightful, sometimes sharp, sometimes very funny, dance-theater solo and tonight, the third night, it’s Jaxon Movement Arts with a beautiful contemporary ballet, looking all shiny and sophisticated.
I’ve enjoyed it tremendously…and I’m saying this as someone who has not attended an entire dance performance for exactly three years! So I guess I’ve proven addiction can be overcome…but why…?
Here are a few rather bad photos from the GOOD Jaxon Movement rehearsal just now.
Dance Festivals…Alive and Well in Albuquerque
Well Done Shift Dance. What a treat your Shift Dance Festival offered for the dance aficionados among us. We Albuquerqueans are privy to so little contemporary dance in our corner of the wild west making this event …well…an EVENT. The Festival opened last night (Thursday) and runs through Saturday night at the North Fourth Art Center and it is a professional presentation of the first order. The whole production, at least what we’ve seen so far, is polished; the PR is obviously good, attested to by a full house last night; the programs looked slick; and, best of all, the four dances were strong in themselves and complimented each other perfectly. The mood of the evening’s work ranged from somber to sexy and the dancers showed off the considerable talent available on the local scene.
I am not a dance critic and besides would never be able to critique these dance friends impartially. We all have our favorite pieces of art of whatever genre but the important thing about the Festival is that it’s a chance to see enough dance to even have favorites. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week. Good Luck Shift Dance.
The Curtain Goes Up and Dancers Appear
You may have noticed that I’ve paid slight attention to dance since 2013 when Global DanceFest was put to bed. After focusing on contemporary dance much of the time for 25 years or so I was so through—not however because I no longer loved my dancer friends or the art itself. I just couldn’t prostrate myself to one more grantor or worry about one more half full house or have one more person tell me how much they appreciated the brilliant dance I was bringing to Albuquerque when they’d only been to one performance in the past year! There. Promise. That was my One Long Whining sentence. (Trump is going to make more people ashamed of whining—as the disreputable master of the act—than all of our mothers ever managed to do with their stern admonishments against the nasty practice.)
Enough about me—except for the part about how I’m regaining some interest in and pleasure from Dance. This is about dance—or about how the next few posts will be about dance. The Shift Dance Festival is about to happen—the curtain is going up tonight at the North Fourth Art Center. I’ll write more about the artists and the work later but for now it feels good just to say I’m excited about the next three nights of dance.
Shift Dance is a company of young dancers who have banded together to bring some excitement back to the Albuquerque dance scene—which right now does not exist at the local level and certainly we are invisible at the national and international level. So Shift wants to fix this sad situation. Great Good Luck to Them.
Here are a few photos from a couple of nights ago when Allie Hankins from Portland was rehearsing; I watched for awhile and am happy to report that she is a most fascinating performer…I say fascinating especially because she made me curious, wanting to know what was coming just around the next moves, the next words, the next shift… And that’s all I ask of artists really…just please make me curious. Allie is performing Friday night, so be sure and come to that if you’re here in New Mexico, and definitely come tonight and Saturday night as well…IT’S ALL GOOD.
Paris in the 1980s
I reblogged “A Short History of Dance in my Life” which describes my entry into this strange new land but not the origins of the international path which I was suddenly following.
Connecting dance to place started for me in France. I actually cannot remember how I first started looking intensively and extensively at French dance. Being enthralled with Paris and every French sight/taste/nuance, which was all fairly new to me, certainly helped. I was presenting a range of performing arts at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque New Mexico and in the process meeting and being guided by the NYC contemporary dance sophisticates and international travelers and French dance was hot at the time.
It was magical. Paris is a very special place in all ways and what a grand thing, to be sitting at a sidewalk café with your cigarettes and café au lait or wine, gazing just over there at the Eiffel Tower and listening to the elegant sounds of the French language all around. Increasingly the talk was of dance…contemporary dance treasured and supported by the French government. Imagine that!
The choreographers and companies I remember most clearly are Dominique Bagouet, Angelin Preljocaj/Ballet Preljocaj (who was here for Global DanceFest’s grand 2001 opening), Maguy Marin, Mathilde Monnier, Josef Nadj and of course the American transplant, Carolyn Carlson. There were others but with an array like that who needed more. I was enthralled and curious.
I so lacked background in American contemporary dance, or dance of any kind for that matter, that being introduced to new work in a new country was like entering a different reality. I had no references; when my friends and mentors related what they were seeing back to the founders and stars of “modern” dance in America and Europe I was the clueless bystander.
What I did know was that—given the limited American dance I had seen in New Mexico (extremely limited) and at the conferences and showcases I was attending around the country—I was more enamored of what I was seeing in France. Why the greater interest was the question.
It took me awhile to develop an answer that suited me. The dance in France was a little less about technique and pure movement and more about things/stuff/stories/ideas. It also seemed a little more confrontive, maybe a little rawer, a little sexier, more original somehow? And the program was one coherent piece, not three pretty dances of 10 to 20 minutes each. I loved it all. Indiscriminately.
I immediately began trying to analyze what about French culture, history or geography had produced those differences. I know…I know… I know. My learned dance friends can trace it all to various choreographic/artistic movements and influences. Which is true and accurate and informed. But I wasn’t interested in that, what I wanted to figure out was what about being French was showing up on stage. Of course there was no answer that made sense.
But here’s what I decided. France has a proud intellectual history so why wouldn’t that be reflected in their dance as well as in other cultural pursuits—dance of ideas? France has a long history as a colonial power so why wouldn’t their experience of other cultures make more story, more nuance possible in their dance—dance more worldly. France is known as a nation of diverse sensual appetites—why wouldn’t their dance reflect that sensuality. This was an answer that made sense. To me at least.
That was all over 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen American dance take on all of those characteristics to some degree, and I have no idea what is happening with French dance. But that line of questioning is what propelled me down the track of forever analyzing contemporary dance based on the broadest of cultural, environmental, historical and political influences. For better or worse.
Countdown to October 5th
Don’t worry…this message is not coming to you from a Doomsday Cult. it is only the END of GLOBAL DANCEFEST. And of my dance blogging. Which was never my finest accomplishment in any case. The truth is—as pleasurable as discovering and presenting interesting dance has been—I am pretty inarticulate when it comes to discussing or describing it.
In the meantime, between now and October 5th I will keep trying! With some final pieces about my experiences in the field and also re-blogging some of the posts that seem worth sharing.
A few days ago in “Dancing to a Different Tune” I talked about constantly trying to find geographical/historical/cultural meaning in all of the work I’ve seen and/or presented from all over the world. And how sometimes it feels like the connections are so obviously there—other times like I’m forcing it. More about that in the next few days. I think.
In the meantime I’m going to re-blog something I wrote last fall before deciding to stop presenting. It’s called “A SHORT HISTORY OF DANCE IN MY LIFE,” and is both about how I came to this world of contemporary dance and how I interpret it for my presenting purposes. (At the time Global DanceFest was going to morph into something called Journeys instead of ending.)
I don’t know how to incorporate another blog post into a new one so this will be two separate posts.