American Dance Recon/New York, November 5-10, 2014

19 Nov

One of the best parts of my job is helping to host nine to eleven dance colleagues from around the world for 4-1/2 days during American Dance Recon, a yearly symposium around U.S. dance in a given city.  ADR is invariably a rich week full of discussion, dance, and shifting perspectives.

This year, thanks to generous funding from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, ADR saw its fourth edition (and third in NYC).  Planning that had began in June helped us schedule 15 artists who were already in rehearsal or performance, from the traditional (Paul Taylor) to new trend-setters in the New York dance scene (like Netta Yerushalmy).  There were also morning meetings full of dialogue; a lunch meeting with several presenters from the U.S. to discuss projects and methodologies; and a Town Hall on Sunday afternoon, open and free to the dance community.

The small but vibrant Town Hall, hosted by Mark Morris Dance Center

The small but vibrant Town Hall, hosted by Mark Morris Dance Center

The presenters/programmers who came to New York hailed from Armenia, Hong Kong, Catalonia, Taiwan, France, Hungary, Iceland, and Finland.  Many were surprised to see how little funding was available for international travel for U.S. artists.  Many also expressed a change in opinion around the idea of an “American dance” aesthetic – often there is a time gap in perception because of the distance between the U.S. and countries overseas.

Some comments from the participants:

“Thank you all for a super great time!  This has been a very valuable investment for the future with NYC based artists….” -Harri Kuorelahti, Director of Zodiak – Center for New Dance in Helsinki, Finland.

“It was such a lovely time to meet all of you and share our thoughts, aesthetic and experience.  I look forward to meeting some of you….in the very near future.” – Anna CHAN, Head of Artistic Development (Dance), Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong

 

Liz Gerring discussing her work with the participants before a rehearsal showing

Liz Gerring discussing her work with the participants before a rehearsal showing

Over and over again, the ADR participants emphasized the importance of building relationships with programmers overseas.  With the exception of some larger festivals, presenting an artist is rarely “just business.”  As Shoghakat Galstyan, Chief Coordinator of the HIGH FEST International Performing Arts Festival in Armenia, said at the Town Hall, “Don’t be so businesslike!  Tell us your story.  We have to know the story.”

The ADR participants with Bill T. Jones after the Thursday night performance of "Story/Time"

The ADR participants with Bill T. Jones after the Thursday night performance of “Story/Time”

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