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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dance artists "living otherwise" at Theater for the New City

studies in living otherwise is the gestation of five dance/performance works that move through collective practices of presence, memory, storytelling and abstraction. We ask how can we center the Other and other the center?  We answer by digging underground pathways to alternative ways of (not) being, remembering, un/doing and dancing.
-- from publicity materials for studies in living otherwise

All expected intersectionality aside, the most Other-y thing about studies in living otherwise--a collaborative dance show presented by Jesse Phillips-Fein and {dance}withoutWalls--is how it makes you feel you have wandered into a "performance" by people still figuring out how to do what they're trying to do. This continues from all the early fumbling with DIY decor through the final performer's interaction with a sometimes hesitant, sometimes eager-to-help audience. But by the time you do get to that final performer--the undaunted Nia Love--you're in the presence of a charismatic mage who can plunge you to the bottom of the sea and yank you right back up, glowing, sanctified, miraculously never suffering the bends. Her gl(host):lostatsea brings to storytelling the bold multiplicity of collage and jazz's trust in the process of freedom.

studies in living otherwise takes you by surprise from the very start. Phillips-Fein's nothing,is,about,nothing appears, almost out of nowhere, with no fanfare whatsoever and proceeds that way. As it goes, many curious things happen without attachment to explanation but with a system of accounting for passage and duration of time.

Last evening, Context and Reconstruction found Alex Pitre encouraging an older Black woman in the audience to relate a personal childhood story by way of answering Pitre's questions, while the white Pitre simply smeared and splashed themselves white. Who made that dance? Though the woman sat at a safe, if short, distance from Pitre, she contributed her memories to the process and therefore shared the space. One might even argue that without her story...what?? What does it mean, though, that this is the second dance I've seen this week requiring a plastic tarp to protect the floor? New trend?

The program also features Veleda Roehl's Sista Wolf and Mother Love: an urban folk tale and in search of mirrors, and catch the light just right by EmmaGrace Skove-Epes, a duet in collaboration with Gyrchel Moore.

studies in living otherwise lets you breathe, rest and wait for things to develop. There isn't even any formal pauses between dances--although there are humble and even sometimes awkward adjustments--and no applause until the very end...when there's every reason for it.

Catch the final performance of studies in living otherwise this afternoon at 3pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets), Manhattan

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