OCR Interpretation

The villager. (New York [N.Y.]) 1933-current, June 08, 1994, Image 9

Image and text provided by Jefferson Market Library

Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83030608/1994-06-08/ed-1/seq-9/

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Physicality is vital to this dancer By Doris Diether *'l don't like dance that much as an art form, because of how it deals with music, and that it deals with music. Dance is antithetical about how music is put together, so when you stick the two together, something artificial has to be going on. Movement gets put together differently.\ declared Elizabeth Streb, whose Ringside company opens next Monday for a two-week engagement at the Joyce Theater. \Ringside the name of a work Streb created in 1982, is an apt choice for the company name since her work has elements of the circus high wire acts, acrobatics, split second precision and performance at the edge of danger. Born in Rochester, New York, Streb attended an all girls school, participating in various sports, before going to SUNY Brockport. Opportunities for a woman athlete were limited, so she planned to become a physical ed teacher, but, at the age of 17, then she saw dance. She had always painted, so she thought. ‘This is physicality and art mixed together.\ The program taught Limon-Humphrey- Weidman techniques and one of her teachers and main inspirers at the time was Daniel Nagrin. She also studied ballet because she felt she needed it. However, she remembers, \1 felt the way I feel about it now. It’s very artificial. 1 didn’t find it visceral, physically. It was more about alignment and placement. Even when you did a move there was no falling, no speed, no ostensible danger.\ After seeing the movie \Easy Rider.\ when Streb graduated from college she went to California on her motorcycle. \It was one of my dreams,\ she said, but added. \I wouldn’tdo it twice though.\ In San Francisco she studied Merce Cunningham technique with Margaret Jenkins, which, she liked better. Even now, if she attends dance concerts it is to see Cunningham, Trisha Brown or Lucinda Childs \who deal with movement and not everything else like whetlier it tells a story or depicts relationships, or the movement's relationship to music.\ Streb came to New York in 1974, to a little room on 86th St. that rented for $30 a month. She took odd jobs to make expenses. \I was never able to make enough money dancing,\ she said. At one of her restaurant jobs, where she was a cook (“I didn’t have the personality for a waitress\) she met some friends who found her an apartment on Bedford St. for $125 a month. In 1977 she found her present loft on Canal St., which she shared with dancer Tom Treadwell. In those days, lofts were rented unfinished, even to such things as toilets and sinks. Her father, who was still alive at the time and a mason, came down on a tram with his tool kit and put up all .the divisions for them; “He thought I was crazy,\ Streb remembered. For basics like the toilet, Streb would price them and then she and Treadwell would figure out how soon each of them could come up with half the cost so they could buy it and have it installed. “It was all built piecemeal\ she recalled. *1t’s amazing how much things cost. My landlord would Say a wall wouldxost $50 ahd Jtcost $2,000,\ It took two years to get tlie Elizabeth Streb studio in shape so she could use it, and she also rented it out at $2 an hour to other choreographers. By 1981 Streb was giving performances in her own unique style. One of her earliest reviews, in the February 19,1981 \Villager was titled. \Streb Soars at Theater Lab: But Is It Dance?\ It may look like dancers are crashing into walls, but, she explained, \1 just decided the floor is too limited a surface to exist on. The walls are just another surface for us to be on. and the reason it looks like we crash is because I'm trying to do real moves in a theatrical situation, We do the crash so that the move remains real and the resultant force of the move is apparent when the crash happens.\ It used to take Streb about two years to train dancers in her technique, but not any more. At one audition last year 80 dancers - showed up, and they were put through the vocabulary » flying in the air, landing on their backs, flopping to their shins. Today’s dancers are just more versatile, For instance, of her air dance, “Bounce,\ she admits, \It’s the first dance I’ve made that I don’t think I could do. It’s about being in the air and it takes millisecond timing. For example, one person does a flip and someone else dives through the center of the flip at tlie same time, and there is nb way tocalculate when to go. Or Hope Clark Villager photo bv Crrg Cortrum is running and doing a back flip, someone's diving under her, and someone is going over her as she’s going back into the air. 1 can’t even take notes when they are running through this dance. It must have 500 moves, and the whole thing is 3 minutes and 40 seconds.\ Streb is trying to change the dance company so that it is not just a single- choreographer entity. \If the dancers come up with ideas that work, we can put them in,\ she reasoned. Clark runs a program called Kids Action where she trains them, and in this show ten students from P.S. II on W. 21st St. will perform a dance Clark choreographed for them. And Christopher Knight has been dealing with free flight people and his knowledge led to aquartet of people who will dive into the audience. Streb wants the dancers to be able to do their work within the confines of her work. This April Streb rented additional rehearsal space in a huge loft building on 16th St., large enough to hold their sets and equipment. “This is also an attempt to address the issue tliat we can’t really exist in this market ^ economy,\ she explained. “We need to play bigger and bigger houses, and ',I’m experimenting with different ways to do that. Continued on page 21 Exploring link between poetry, dance By Robert Hicks Inspired by the chance operations of John Cage, poet Jackson Mac Low created a relationship between words and movement in \The Pronouns - A Collection of 40 Dances - For the Dancers” (1964. 1971, 1979), which required the performers to make choices. In keeping with his pacifist anarchist ideals. Mac Low emphasized people's ability to exercise initiative, to find the meaning of their relationships with the words and with the other dancers as they go along in collaboration. On Thurs.. June 9 at 7 P.M., Poets House will present the first in a series of programs exploring the connections between poetry and other art forms. Beginning with dance as a medium for poetry.\ParalIel Lines: Poetry and Dance\ will feature poetry readings, dances and a discussion by a distinguished panel, including Mac Low. dancer Kenneth King, poet Michael Palmer. New York Times dance critic Jack Anderson and Mac Low’s daughter, the dancer Clarinda Mac Low. Poet/playwright Ntozake Shange cancelled her appearance, but Poets House plans to present visual footage of her speaking on the topic. ‘All one art’ “Poetry and dance are all one art,” says Mac Low. \1 came across the Greek notion of musicae - Today, it would include movies and television, anything that happens in time [as opposed to the static art of painting. For the Greeks, the \time\ arts were dance, poetry, drama.] The transition i.sn’t form one box to another, but from one time art to another.” Mac Low and Kenneth King along with Mac Low’s wife. Anne Tardos, will perform \A Vocabulary Gatha for Anne.” a performance poem set out on graph ' paper, which produces anagrams of her name. The performance work \Heterophony.\ derived from the poem “Herford Bosons One’’( 1981 -84)consists of the first of a series Of seven poems in sequence, separated by blocks of silence. The pacing and judgment is left up to the performers, but Mac Low likes to think of his pieces as \guided improvisations.\ \I tend to steer away from the term improvisation mainly because for many people it means ‘oh, just do anything,\’ he says. Preferred science Bom in Chicago on Sept. 12. 1922, Mac Low didn’t take to poetry at an early age, He preferred chemistry and physics. During high school, 'he began to write stories. Quite annoyed with the constraints of metrical verse, he sought direction in Whitman, Carl Sandburg and later Ezra Pound. Their free verse, the long breathing lines of Whitman, Sandburg’s appreciation of an American vernacular and Pound’s experimental collage methods, awakened Mac Low to the joys of writing poetry. Alfter studies in philosophy, poetics and English at the University of Chicago, h ; moved to New York in 1943. Through a class he took under Cage at the New School, Mac Low associated with members of the Fluxus movement. Continued on page 21 •e (e I

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