Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New York Live Arts announces new season



What in the world is happening here?

Well--believe it or not--it's sort of an impromptu plein air press conference convened by the ever-resourceful Bill T. Jones in front of New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop, now merged with Jones's dance troupe) but actually in front of an NYFD fire truck.... Wait. Is this getting way too complicated?

Let me start over.

At a morning press conference inside NYLA's Bessie Schönberg Theater, Jones (NYLA Executive Artistic Director) had just been introduced by the organization's CEO Jean Davidson. Jones surprised us by elegantly, delicately dancing and even singing a little as he made his opening remarks. Halfway through, he started to talk about his own troupe's upcoming season but, suddenly, the NYFD ordered everyone to leave the building and assemble across the street!

We had to wait until the fire truck pulled up and the firemen did...something...I have no idea and no one seemed to know what. In the meantime, Jones doffed his shirt, as is his wont, and completed his address to the crowd of press, staff, dance world colleagues and curious passersby. Happily--and to the great relief of Carla Peterson, NYLA Artistic Director, who would have had to shout over street noise--we were soon able to return to the theater.

Truth be told, for the first time, the very idea of New York Live Arts does seem hot enough to warrant the arrival of a truckload of firemen. And it certainly seems dance enough to still the fears of folks who thought that the loss of the name Dance Theater Workshop meant something sinister.

The upcoming season--beginning September 16 with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company--and other NYLA programs rock. I'll drop a handful of names, just for starters: Reggie Wilson, Yvonne Meier, Rachid Ouramdane, John Kelly, Richard Move, Ivy Baldwin, Jodi Melnick, John JasperseRoseAnne Spradlin and Big Dance Theater. Over 40 diverse emerging, mid-career and established dance artists will participate in the presenting season or other NYLA programs. NYLA will continue DTW's traditions of commissioning cutting-edge performance, offering audiences opportunities to revisit seminal works and giving artists the chance to develop and show new projects in informal presentations.

The 2011-2013 recipient of a new program--Resident Commissioned Artist--will be Yasuko Yokoshi, the well-regarded, Hiroshima-born choreographer who has worked in New York since 1986. Yokoshi's two-year award includes a salary, health insurance, and support for creation and possible touring of new work. Imagine that! Jones described this as "a new standard for the entire field." Indeed and amen, amen.

"We launched New York Live Arts because we want to instigate change, not react to it," said Jones, later explaining the organization's initiatives as "a leap of faith."

There's much more to learn about New York Live Arts. So, for complete information about the mission, the upcoming season and the spectrum of artist services, click here.

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