Glass # 3: DANCE with Lucinda Childs

LUCINDA CHILDS'S DANCE- Photo by Sally Cohn

Lucinda Childs Company in DANCE, with Sol LeWitt’s film of DANCE, set to Philip Glass’s DANCE I, Dance II, and Dance III. Photo: Sally Cohn.

 

Will art last, or is it strictly of its time? That’s always a question with new art, but the answer of necessity is slow in coming, and must be checked and perhaps revised as the generations pass. So one still cannot say that the beautiful, joyous, cunning 1979 collaborative work DANCE will last forever, but one can say that, 38 years after its premiere, it remains kinetically vital, visually challenging, and aurally propulsive towards spiritual uplift. Carolina Performing Artspresented the re-created work by choreographer Lucinda Childs, visual artist Sol LeWitt and composer Philip Glass in Memorial Hall as part of the ongoing Glass at 80 festival.

 

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A moment from DANCE, by Lucinda Childs, Sol LeWitt and Philip Glass. Photo: Sally Cohn.

From my review “Ephermerality Reconstituted in DANCE at CPA“published 2/8/17 on cvnc.org. Click through to read the whole review.

 

 

 

 

 

…an artwork that draws its power from images of dance so ancient as to be archetypal – dance as communal expression, dance as celebration of innocent joy.

 

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Henri Matisse, Dance I, 1909, in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.

 

Childs, Glass and LeWitt were all among the art avant-garde in their youth. LeWitt died in 2007, but Childs and Glass continue to push the forward edge of art in their 70s and 80s.

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Choreographer Lucinda Childs. Childs will receive the ADF/Scripps Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2017 American Dance Festival. Photo: Cameron Wittig.

Bait and Switch

The advance materials for a performance that will repeat today at 2 and 7 at Duke’s Nasher Museum of Art show Thomas F. DeFrantz dancing. True, the photo shows him dancing in the Ninth Street Dance studio, but one is led to think that DeFrantz himself will dance in the performance at the Nasher.

No.

SLIPPAGE: reVERSE-gesture-reVIEWed supposedly explores “the provocation of Kara Walker’s Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)” and maybe that is what the three dancers did, but most of the audience saw only a small fraction of the movement and the projections. DeFrantz was there, speaking cryptically in a tone suited to first year students in a classroom, and gliding about in his groovy multi-hued seersucker suit (yes, Virginia, it IS still January) and his white buck (heavy sartorial symbolism) shoes, but he did not dance.

DeFrantz is Professor and Chair of African and African American studies at Duke, and I had expected a sophisticated work, and was hoping for something as brilliant as Colson Whitehead’s recent book, The Underground Railroad. The use of technology was sophisticated (DeFrantz came to Duke from MIT), or maybe just cool, but neither the choreography nor the visuals were. What one could see of them.

I can think of three reasons for this performance to have been set up in an empty gallery, rather than in the museum auditorium. 1) They didn’t expect a crowd–didn’t think more than 10 or 15 people would show up–and that many would have been able to see. 2) The real purpose of the live performance was to create a video, so the audience didn’t really matter. 3) DeFrantz may have been trying to make a point about how difficult it is to see the whole picture and how few can actually do it. That is a point that one always must keep in mind.

But to lure people to a performance, people who are curious, and willing to look for what they have not noticed before–and not let them see it, strikes me as sadistic and self-defeating.

If you, like me, are really interested in “the place of Black women’s presence in the landscape of the Civil War,” you would do better to go back to Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. This 1966 book turned my head around when I was 15. The Durham County Library has four copies.

 

 

Dancing on the barricades in HOME: the metamorphosis

The metamorphosis of my immediate downtown neighborhood absorbs my attention daily, so I was glad to see an artist and her collaborators take up the subject. Stephanie LeathersHOME: the metamorphosis, which repeats once more tonight, Nov. 12, begins to look at the new developments and alteration of old buildings that is currently changing Durham overnight, night after night, and how this landscape in flux affects our bodies and the ways we move through the environment.

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Ally Lloyd, front, and Myra Weise climb the fence in an earlier, Sunday SITES, dance exploration. Photo: Chris Cherry.

Leathers built this multi-media, multi-location performance work with movement culled from her Sunday SITES series of exploratory dances in places in flux (construction zones) in and near downtown Durham, and from video made during those, along with still photographs she has made around downtown, accompanied by typed poetic fragments by Chris Vitiello. Leathers is joined in her peripetic program by three other female dancers: Alison Lloyd, Kristin Taylor (particularly nice to watch) and Sydney Vigotov, and they are all joined at the final location by musician Jonathan Hunter-Watts Le Sueur.

The program begins at the new Empowerment Dance Studio at 109 W. Parrish (next to Loaf), where you can buy your ticket, and where the photographs are hung. The dancers will appear around 6:30 to lead you outside, for a movement section along the construction fence and the orange and white barricades. This was, to me, the most successful segment of the piece, because it occurs in a disorderly constricted space, with oncoming traffic inches from the dancers, while the roar and light and dirt of the rising 27-story tower continue behind them.

From there, the dance parade makes a couple of stops before reaching its final destination, the old Fishmongers at 806 W. Main, which is currently in a pleasing state of deshabille. Almost everything has been ripped out, the ceiling is down, the back is open to the front–but the black and white tile floor remains to support the building’s next identity.

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Kristin Taylor dancing in the old Fishmongers space. Looks different at night. Photo: Stephanie Leathers.

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