Taking testimony from a Holocaust survivor and turning it into a dance is an intriguing but risky proposition, especially if you’re not a Jew.
Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Story/Time is a kind of spoken dance piece inspired by John Cage: 70 one-minute stories “interrupted by a chance musical score.”
When scheduling your fall NYC arts itinerary, don’t leave out dance. There is a storm of movement coming from both the established companies and individuals with experimental ideas about what movement and the body can mean on stage.
Today’s rain may have put a damper on the unveiling of Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” (2009) at the Pulitzer Fountain, located at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue, but what certainly cast a pall over the event was the artist’s own absence. After over a month since his arrest by the Chinese government, we still haven’t heard from the dissident artist. The opening of “Zodiac Heads” was met with widespread support for Ai’s plight and for his politically contentious work, both from Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s influential arts community.
On November 30, 1994, choreographer Bill T. Jones’s experimental dance piece “Still/Here” opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The work featured live dancers performing in front of video footage of terminally ill people discussing their sicknesses. Nearly a month later, dance critic Arlene Croce blasted the piece in a now-infamous essay in the New Yorker. Announcing that she had never seen “Still/Here” and had no intention of doing so, Croce wrote, “By working dying people into his act, Jones is putting himself beyond the reach of criticism. I think of him as literally undiscussable.” She went on to classify that category of undiscussability as “those dancers I’m forced to feel sorry for because of the way they present themselves: as dissed blacks, abused women, or disenfranchised homosexuals—as performers, in short, who make out of victimhood victim art.” In many ways, the National Portrait Gallery’s current, controversial, and excellent special exhibition Hide/Seek feels like a resounding rebuttal of Croce’s thesis.