I fell in love with contemporary dance in the late 70s and/or early 80s. Being a grown-up by that time and never having heard of…much less seen…contemporary dance, this new found passion came as a great surprise to me. I had, almost by accident, attended performances of Lee (Connor) and Lorn (MacDougal) …and, voilà, I was a dance aficionado!
With inspiring guides/mentors/advisors from around the country and abroad I watched and watched and watched more dance and hung out with dance people and got to know something about the subject—although of course I would never catch up in dance knowledge and language with my compatriots.
This new interest led to a multitude of dancers presented during my time at Albuquerque’s KiMo Theater and eventually, in 2001, to a program called Global DanceFest (GDF). Dancers appeared in Albuquerque from around the world—the U.S., Europe, Asia, and especially from Africa. During the years of GDF, my dance friends and I found a community of believers—in dance and in what the world of dance has to offer.
Global DanceFest officially ended in the spring of 2012 but the mission continues.
JOURNEYS in Dance and Discourse/2012
September 2012. A new program is launched. JOURNEYS in Dance and Discourse. It will be smaller, richer, deeper and equally as enticing and engaging as all our programs that have gone before.
Many of my brilliant and adventurous dance artists and friends from around the world will return to the North Fourth Art Center where, since 2006, they have shared their work with this community. New artists will arrive, especially from Africa and northern Europe, but also from exotic destinations such as Brooklyn and points America. So while the quantity of presentations may have been slightly reduced that is obviously not true of the quality.
For example, this September brings Kota Yamazaki and Mina Nishimura, and Vincent Mantsoe back to town. Old friends with new work. Favorite artists with different perspectives. Global citizens offering a new look at the role of place in the creation of art—which brings us to the discourse.
Dance speaks its own language, enchanting and informing us at the same time.
But, the idea goes, if words are added that encourage post-performance discourse to go on and expand and confront, won’t the experience be even more valuable, even more stimulating, even more fun. Sometimes it’s all about the layers.
Geography and the Muse is the focus of this fall’s discourse. Geography is about place and the Muse is the goddess of creativity so our Journeys’ question is whether our goddess’ speaks to artists differently depending on where they live and travel and work and dream.
The topic had to resonate with the dance artists and their work. The 2012 Journeys artists are certainly mobile enough to challenge any muse. Vincent Mantsoe is from Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa and lives in Saintpont, France. Kota Yamazaki and Mina Nishimura are from Tokyo, Japan and live in Brooklyn, New York—all artists born into places and cultures far from where they presently make their homes and create their work. Furthermore they are artists who cross borders with great purpose and ease to include performers from a multitude of cultures in their work and to perform the work once it is created. Geography and the Muse: Cross Cultural Creativity seemed just right.
When I began thinking about how grand it would be to have a real dialogue among visiting dance artists about topics related to their work and lives, I knew it would be important to have a writer, journalist or scholar participate. Who else could give us, the audience, a way in to talk about the world of dance…as shaped by culture…as impacted by geography?
The next step was to find just the right wordsmith to both lead and participate in this learned discourse. We thought and asked and pondered and the perfect name appeared—as though by magic!
Hakim Bellamy, writer, performer and Albuquerque’s first Poet Laureate, will lead the post-performance panel discussions as well as sharing his experiences as an African American artist in Albuquerque’s Hispanic-Native American-Anglo world and the east coast/west coast cultural dichotomy on which his artistic development is nurtured.
September 14-16 is going to be a splendid weekend with the spiritual and physical intensity of Vincent’s uniquely South African-based solos; with Kota and Mina’s rare ability to cross cultural boundaries as they work within their own Japanese heritage and with American and African dancers, and Hakim’s wide-ranging rhetorical skills.
Friday and Saturday shows start at 7pm so that ample time is available for light food, nice wine and profound and/or sparkling discourse afterwards. On Sunday music and a light supper have been substituted for discourse between performances by Kota (4pm) and Vincent (7pm).
Here are things in honor of the muses who lured me into dance….
A piece from 1987 about Lorn and Lee:
Dance: Lorn MacDougal
By JACK ANDERSON
Published: November 08, 1987
ON Friday night at the Triplex Theater of Manhattan Community College, Lorn MacDougal danced the premiere of a solo about matters many people might prefer not to think about. Choreographed by Lee Connor, her former partner, ”Daily Living: A Tribute, a Transfiguration” was based upon Mr. Connor’s own battle against AIDS.
Like a sleepless patient, Ms. MacDougal tossed and turned with a pillow to electronic music by Alain Le Razer. Struggling to stand, she made the pillow seem sometimes a heavy burden, at other times a banner she tried to wave in defiance. At the end of the solo, she stared resolutely, yet at the same time vanished into shadows.
The poignant work was neither glibly optimistic nor self-indulgently lachrymose. And by casting a woman in this solo, Mr. Connor, who died in September, transcended the particulars of his own medical history to warn viewers that anyone may contract AIDS. His dance also reminded one that all human beings must learn to live with the knowledge of their mortality.
Larry Goodell’s Poem…in honor of Lee
A DANCE AGAIN
We danced we did
we danced the did did dance
the dance we did dance in we did
we did the dance indeed we did
the did & done & dead with dance
the dance done in, we did it in
we did it in the dance we did
the did did dance and done we did
the dance again & did the whole thing in
we did it in we did the dance
and did it in we danced it dead
until it twisted
dance and did it back again
we danced it in and did it in
and brot it back to dance again
we brot it in and danced a sin until it sings
we danced it in and out again
and did we dance? did we dance?
did we dance it in again?
until it sings until it sung
until the song sang again
we danced a din and danced a sing
song again we did a dance
and danced we did
we did a dance a dance we did
again we did a dance again
again we didn’t dance again
we stopped and didn’t dance the dance
was done we did it dance and all
the ball was over dance & hall
we did a dance once and for all
we did a did and done dance and did
the dance we did again.
And did we dance again
and did we dance again.