Over at Arts Journal, the debate about whether New York is still the capital of the dance world–and why or why not, and what this means for the future of dance–is just warming up. The site has brought together key players on the dance scene like former DTW director David White, UCLA Live’s David Sefton, Dance Magazine’s Wendy Perron, and the New York Times’ John Rockwell for an online conversation sparked by Gia Kourlas’s much-debated September commentary claiming New York is no longer the center of the dance universe. They’re all chiming in thought-provokingly, along with commenters like Rita Felciano and Tobi Tobias, but I’m most taken thus far with the observations of choreographer Tere O’Connor, who sidesteps territorial chest-thumping altogether to instead advocate eloquently for the irreducible nature of meaning in dance:
“The desire to locate a particular capital of dance holds little interest for me as a maker. Talk of power centers is antithetical to the reasons one goes into dance as a life. One enters deeply into a willful state of marginalization the moment one commits to a mute, non-narrative form, one that leaves no product and is not (in the best hands) a translation of anything. It exists, by its nature, outside of the systems of capitalism foisted upon it in futile attempts to “market” it. Artists must fight to avoid being pulled into the land of the explanatory. In both Europe and America there are certain criteria one must answer, centered around the validation of dance through “understandable” terms. The present European penchant for dramaturgical assistance and lofty philosophical sources is not unlike the need here to have the much loved “multi media” or the importance of “collaboration” rule your making. It is a way of saying the form needs to be validated through pre-existing outside information. So whether you are doing this by co-opting the music of a master to enhance your work or using Lacanian thought to source from, you are answering a mandate and you are deeply invested in representation. Trying to make dances that represent ideas in their specificity is like saying “Here, hold this wind ” Audiences feel this. The chasm between the explanatory, aggrandizing marketing of these works and the works themselves fosters disinterest.”
That’s just a taste–admittedly, a long one–of a far-reaching exchange that’s just revving up. Click here to jump in.