GLOBAL DANCEFEST FINALE AND MORE DANCING MOMENTS

JOHANNESBURG, ETHIOPIA FALL 2012 225

DANCING AROUND THE WORLD is one way to describe much of my international travel. During the 1980s it was mostly to France and the rest of Europe; in the 1990s and 2000s, mostly to Africa. With a side trip here and there to Asia and Latin America.

As a dance presenter I needed to see what was percolating globally. As a perpetual student of history and geography I wanted to understand how the environment within which it was made influenced, infused and informed the dance itself.

I suspect my dance friends have found my endless attempts to give our dance programs a geo-art twist a bit silly at times. But I have just never been able to separate any kind of art from its place in the world.

Now as I look at this final Global DanceFest program I feel completely justified. The very last piece we will present is African in heart and soul, body and mind. Panaibra Gabriel Canda and Boyzie Cekwana have worked for a very long time on Inkomati (Dis)cord whenever they have had the chance to connect in their native countries of Mozambique and South Africa, or elsewhere in the world. Now it’s completed and will be here in Albuquerque and everything that a Global DanceFest wrap should be.

Inkomati (Dis)cord IS a visit to contemporary Africa. The history between two countries, the politics that never end, the doubt people feel about where they fit in the sometimes dysfunctional environments…the vitality and genius it takes to survive and thrive. It all comes out in the incredible creativity of African artists. As does the indispensable perseverance, humor and interdependence that these remarkable people bring to this unique work: Canda whose thoughtfulness infuses the work, Cekwana whose humor tinged with cynicism takes on African politics, and Maria Tembe, who lost her legs in a car accident, and is a dancer of unbelievable beauty.

I will come back to this topic of how dance and cultures based on geography and historical amalgamations intertwine. It is usually more difficult to trace than here—but I always try!

JOHANNESBURG, ETHIOPIA FALL 2012 228

I hope everyone reading this blog within driving and flying distance will be here for Inkomati (Dis)cord. Because it is what I’ve been trying to get people to come and see for all these years of Global DanceFest. October 4 and 5/North Fourth Art Center/Albuquerque New Mexico USA.

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COUNTDOWN TO OCTOBER 5TH

Don’t worry…this message is not coming to you from a Doomsday Cult. it is only the END of GLOBAL DANCEFEST. And of my dance blogging.  Which was never my finest accomplishment in any case. The truth is—as pleasurable as discovering and presenting interesting dance has been—I am pretty inarticulate when it comes to discussing or describing it.

In the meantime, between now and October 5th I will keep trying! With some final pieces about my experiences in the field and also re-blogging some of the posts that seem worth sharing.

A few days ago in “Dancing to a Different Tune” I talked about constantly trying to find geographical/historical/cultural meaning in all of the work I’ve seen and/or presented from all over the world. And how sometimes it feels like the connections are so obviously there—other times like I’m forcing it. More about that in the next few days. I think.

In the meantime I’m going to re-blog something I wrote last fall before deciding to stop presenting. It’s called “A SHORT HISTORY OF DANCE IN MY LIFE,” and is both about how I came to this world of contemporary dance and how I interpret it for my presenting purposes. (At the time Global DanceFest was going to morph into something called Journeys instead of ending.)

 I don’t know how to incorporate another blog post into a new one so this will be two separate posts.

ALL PHOTOS FROM DROID 155

A dance rehearsal in Accra, Ghana, 2012

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MOVEMENT AFOOT: PARIS IN THE 1980s

“Movement Afoot” seemed like an appropriate title for stories about how I discovered and explored the wide world of dance. However, when I googled the phrase, fitness and yoga studios seem to have latched on to the term (movements afoot). It still works for some of these dance posts I think so I’ll keep it anyway.

I reblogged “A Short History of Dance in my Life” which describes my entry into this strange new land but not the origins of the international path which I was suddenly following.

Connecting dance to place started for me in France. I actually cannot remember how I first started looking intensively and extensively at French dance. Being enthralled with Paris and every French sight/taste/nuance, which was all fairly new to me, certainly helped. I was presenting a range of performing arts at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque NM AND in the process meeting and being guided by the NYC contemporary dance sophisticates and international travelers AND French dance was hot at the time.

It was magical. Paris is a very special place in all ways and what a grand thing, to be sitting at a sidewalk café with your cigarettes and café au lait or wine, gazing just over there at the Eiffel Tower and listening to the elegant sounds of the French language all around. Increasingly the talk was of dance…contemporary dance treasured and supported by the French government. Imagine that!

The choreographers and companies I remember most clearly are Dominique Bagouet, Angelin Preljocaj/Ballet Preljocaj (who was here for Global DanceFest’s grand 2001 opening), Maguy Marin, Mathilde Monnier, Josef Nadj and of course the American transplant, Carolyn Carlson. There were others but with an array like that who needed more. I was enthralled and curious.

I so lacked background in American contemporary dance, or dance of any kind for that matter, that being introduced to new work in a new country was like entering a different reality. I had no references; when my friends and mentors related what they were seeing back to the founders and stars of “modern” dance in America and Europe I was the clueless bystander.

What I did know was that—given the limited American dance I had seen in New Mexico (extremely limited) and at the conferences and showcases I was attending around the country—I was more enamored of what I was seeing in France. Why the greater interest was the question.

It took me awhile to develop an answer that suited me. The dance in France was a little less about technique and pure movement and more about things/stuff/stories/ideas. It also seemed a little more confrontive, maybe a little rawer, a little sexier, more original somehow? And the program was one coherent piece, not three pretty dances of 10 to 20 minutes each. I loved it all. Indiscriminately.

I immediately began trying to analyze what about French culture, history or geography had produced those differences. I know…I know… I know. My learned dance friends can trace it all to various choreographic/artistic movements and influences. Which is true and accurate and informed. But I wasn’t interested in that, what I wanted to figure out was what about being French was showing up on stage. Of course there was no answer that made sense.

But here’s what I decided. France has a proud intellectual history so why wouldn’t  that be reflected in their dance as well as in other cultural pursuits—dance of ideas? France has a long history as a colonial power so why wouldn’t their experience of other cultures make more story, more nuance possible in their dance—dance more worldly. France is known as a nation of diverse sensual appetites—why wouldn’t their dance reflect that sensuality. This was an answer that made sense. To me at least.

That was all over 20 years ago. Since then I’ve seen American dance take on all of those characteristics to some degree, and I have no idea what is happening with French dance. But that line of questioning is what propelled me down the track of forever analyzing contemporary dance based on the broadest of cultural, environmental, historical and political influences. For better or worse.

ALBUQUERQUE SCENE 037

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MORE MOVEMENT AFOOT: SCANDINAVIA IN THE 1990s

Beautiful snowy slippery Helsinki

Beautiful snowy slippery Helsinki

In my brain…where dance always has something to do with Geography…I manage to find something in a work, even if it’s just the name of the piece, which identifies it with a place and a culture. No matter the choreographers’ extensive training with whatever giants of the modern/contemporary dance field, no matter how long they’ve lived outside their countries of origin, I always imagine traces of home place/home culture in their work—whether actually there are or not. I suppose I am using and adding to the age-old, frequently detrimental, practice of stereotyping. But there is always some—real or imagined—basis for stereotypes!

THOSE DANCING SCANDINAVIANS: A few years ago I decided Global DanceFest should have a Scandinavian-based dance festival so I started attending something called “Ice Hot,” semi-annual dance platforms for Scandinavian artists. Part of this decision came from the fact that I am Scandinavian, Norwegian to be more exact. And part was general curiosity about whether stereotypical Scandinavians in their actual northern isolation would express themselves differently from other Europeans in their dancemaking.

They/we are different. I think! The humor, and there seems to be quite a bit, is sly, understated, even dark; the themes brainy, gloomy, cynical perhaps; the movement idiosyncratic. Europe is, in general, more idea/intellectual-friendly than the U.S. and that was imbued in all of their art. For example, Swedish Gunilla Heilborn’s quietly spoken and simply choreographed pieces are so poignantly funny in that Scandinavian “let’s not laugh out loud” kind of way. Norwegian Alan Lucien Øyen’s work forces the audience to ponder and confront an array of ideas and issues; it is very smart work that doesn’t make it easy for anyone; it’s skillfully choreographed in a way that seems easy in the beginning and, only after a little while, do you realize how complicated it is. The piece we presented in Albuquerque by Norwegian Jo Strømgren was a light-hearted (but only on the surface) work about the mess that people are leaving on the big island of Greenland. Danish Palle Granhøj’s work seems lighter, less somber; more movement, less-idea-based; but it reminds me of places on the edge of something and comfortable with that. Like Danish—Denmark is Scandinavian/ European/ historically, but not geographically sizeable; proudly prosperous—artists can afford to play and make work that doesn’t really fit any mold. Finnish Tero Saarinen is one of the best-known of the Scandinavian choreographers, with work that ranges from one of the world’s most brilliant solos, “HUNT” to large company pieces. So how about if I just say Tero reminds me of everything we know about Finland. Clever, brainy, sharp; maybe the world’s best education system; high-tech; starkly beautiful (both the blondes and the landscape).

DANCE OF GEOGRAPHY, GEOGRAPHY OF DANCE/MY TAKE: So there’s my crazy dance-geography essay. I don’t think anyone needs to agree with me or even tell me why I’m wrong. I like thinking about it like this.

As we all communicate through, watch, engage with, have access to the same social and other media tools, very soon the world will be the all the same, including dancemaking. So who can say, not so many years from now, whether I was right—or not?

Meanwhile one of my few regrets about leaving the dance-presenting business is that I couldn’t do one more big festival of Scandinavian work. Along with dance from the continent of Africa, it is the most self-referential—no, what I mean to say is homeland/culture-referential—and that is what is most interesting to me.

Snow photo while taxi tires skid around a b

Snow photo while taxi tires skid around a bit

THINGS END FOR A REASON: One of the circumstances that fed into my decision to leave the field at this moment in time came from being at the Ice Hot Festival in Helsinki in December. For the first time in a place in the world, I felt old. I crept around on the slippery ice ever so carefully not to fall and break an aging hip!

The irony of this is that a travel goal is to spend time roaming about in Scandinavia’s North Country in either the winter or the summer. I can still do that however without being surrounded by the good-looking, nimble, youngish denizens of the dance world. I won’t have to feel so aged and cautious and over and done with!

In future Finnish snowstorms I'll just stay in my room, no dance performances to go to...just murder mysteries to read.

In future Finnish snowstorms I’ll just stay in my room, no dance performances to go to…just mysteries to read.

FINLAND 2012 152

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DAY BEFORE THE DANCING BEGINS

Our Global DanceFest artists begin arriving tomorrow. Reggie Wilson and company first, then on Friday, Panaibra Gabriel Canda, Boyzie Cekwana and dancers. It is all quite exciting—just hope I don’t start regretting my decision to stop producing dance after this amazing splendiferous perfect couple of weeks!

Meanwhile my morning walk was cool and energizing. Rained again last night and the damp green of New Mexico right now is quite eye-opening—as in where am I? 

Soon I’ll move indoors to walk evenings on the gym treadmill with a book in front of me. Get more reading done but I still won’t feel as healthy.

Sparkly cold morning stream.

Sparkly cold morning stream.

Pay attention to my sign, he/she says.

Pay attention to my sign, he/she says.

ALBUQUERQUE SCENE 014

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GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 024

Susanna, Yeman, Raja and REGGIE.

REGGIE WILSON IS IN THE BUILDING.

Well, it’s here—the beginning of the end of Global DanceFest. Ever since I made the decision to bring this ever-exciting, always-engaging program to a close I have felt very good and sure of my decision. “It’s time,” I’ve said often. “Yes, I am through…ready to move on to my next life project.” “No regrets.” And on and on and on.

So now the time has come. And, while I still feel the decision was right, and while I’m still ready, I must admit to some pangs of regret!

As Susanna and I sat waiting at the airport, I said happily, “Hey, this is next to our last airport pickup for Global DanceFest.” Then the artists came through the revolving doors and it struck me what good friends and fascinating artists and lovely human beings they are…and they won’t be coming back…and I wasn’t quite so happy.

As the evening went on, sharing a meal, driving some errands, my sense of the rightness of my decision didn’t go away but I found a certain sadness was occupying my senses in equal proportion.

Now it’s the next day; the artists are in the theater rehearsing and I’m getting ready to clean the theater refrigerator so tomorrow it will be all ready for reception food. There is no hotel near our theater so we drive back and forth often which is usually the task we find most tiresome. NOW however, for me, every action has a feeling of poignancy about it. DAMN. I’ve been looking forward to both the artists and performance and THE END. At this very moment, in my heart, the latter seems to have arrived a little too soon.

FIST AND HEEL PERFORMANCE GROUP MEETS NORTH FOURTH PERFORMING ARTISTS

North Fourth artists have had classes with Reggie Wilson’s company in years past so they were eager to go this morning when the dancers appeared. Reggie has the same expectations of our dancers as of any other class he teaches so they worked VERY hard, loving every moment it seems.  Here’s a small photo album:

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 107

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 125

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 161

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 202

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 178

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 194

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 242

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 254

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 261

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 341

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 052

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THE GLAMOUR OF IT ALL

The truth about being a presenter/producer of contemporary dance and performing arts is that it is just so damn thrilling. Friends are asking if I won’t miss the excitement of it all, hanging out with amazing artists, seeing brilliant performances, traveling to exotic destinations. I thought it might be appropriate to share the thrills of a typical festival day so you too will envy us here at North Fourth as we prepare for a weekend of “Moses(es).”

Susanna preparing the program; Marjorie scrubbing the refrigerator; Rujeko delivering the last of the brochures; Omar cleaning up out front and Josh mopping the stage. 

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 008

Susanna, Public Relations Director

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Marjorie, Artistic Director

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Rujeko, Board Member

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 018

Omar, Building Manager

GLOBAL DANCEFEST--FINAL--WEEK ONE (2013) 024

Josh, Technical Director

I suppose members of the board, and artistic and technical staff aren’t cleaning, typing and delivering at BAM and the Kennedy Center but out here in the west we are just hands-on kind of people.

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THE ABSOLUTE GRAND FINAL END OF GLOBAL DANCEFEST: THOSE LAST PERFECT DAY IN PICTURES.

How often does something end at just the right moment in time—something I’ve said in a few blogs now. Still it’s amazing enough to say a few times. And what a lovely time it was. I will miss my dance friends but new adventures await. Here, to bring you up-to-date, is the month of October in photo albums.

MOSES(ES)

MOSES(ES)

global-dancefest-2013-the-end-599-2

BOYZIE, MARJ, REGGIE, PANAIBRA…POSSIBLY MY FAVORITE ARTISTS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD

Amelia Leopoldina Socovinho/Maputo

Amelia Leopoldina Socovinho

Maria Domingos Tembe, Maputo

Maria Domingos Tembe

Reggie Wilson's birthday party & special gift, a wood carving from Old Town.

Reggie Wilson’s birthday party & special gift, a wood carving from Old Town.

Reggie and company leaving town.

Reggie and company leaving town.

Boyzie and Teresa in the Bosque.

Boyzie and Teresa in the Bosque.

Bryn and Panaibra at Balloon Fiesta.

Bryn and Panaibra at Balloon Fiesta.

Val and Teresa.

Val and Teresa.

GLOBAL DANCEFEST 2013 THE END 858

Cathy and Panaibra.

Cathy and Panaibra.

Boyzie and Panaibra. THE END.

Boyzie and Panaibra.
THE END.

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THE NEXT LIFE…WITH FOOD.

To celebrate the end of one part of life and re-energize for the onward push, I went to Southern California to eat, sleep, hang out with family and haunt the aisles of IKEA. Having family in San Diego is a very good thing. Next to Manhattan, Paris or a small tropical island somewhere (and a private plane), SoCal is right up there.

Soon I will write posts about books, travel, politics and such again but for now here’s another photo album with restaurant recommendations.

Carnitas' Snack Shack. Outdoors in the CA sun with garnishes, herbs and veggies as the decor. LOVE THIS PLACE!

Carnitas’ Snack Shack. Outdoors in the CA sun with garnishes, herbs and veggies as the decor. LOVE THIS PLACE!

Carnitas' Pork Belly App (braised duroc pork/sweet-spicy glaze-fresee salad, apples, radish, lemon viaigrette. Everything from local farms, etc.

Carnitas’ Pork Belly App (braised duroc pork/sweet-spicy glaze-fresee salad, apples, radish, lemon viaigrette. Everything from local farms, etc.

Beet Terrine (local beets, goat cheese, spinach, balsamic glaze).

Beet Terrine (local beets, goat cheese, spinach, balsamic glaze).

Sandra & me and an afternoon margarita.

Sandra & me and an afternoon margarita.

Sandra's sister, Cynthia's birthday feast. With my fave, LUMPIA.

Sandra’s sister, Cynthia’s birthday feast. With my fave, LUMPIA.

Evening at Bru's somewhere between LA and SD. Local Dever Scallops in a beurre blanc served over truffle potato puree, topped with squid ink cavier.

Evening at Bru’s somewhere between LA and SD. Local Dever Scallops in a beurre blanc served over truffle potato puree, topped with squid ink cavier.

Teresa & Steven's friend, Ashley.

Teresa & Steven’s friend, Ashley.

The Family of Foodies.

The Family of Foodies.

Bluewater Seafood & Market's Calico Amber Beer-Battered Taco (Snapper, homemade pico de gallo & jalepeno cream on a flour tortilla.

Bluewater Seafood & Market’s Calico Amber Beer-Battered Taco (Snapper, homemade pico de gallo & jalepeno cream on a flour tortilla.

Pomegranate Russian-Georgian Restaurant "Russian Borscht: Deep reddish-purple beetroot soup with beef simmered for hours to produce culinary magic."

Pomegranate Russian-Georgian Restaurant “Russian Borscht: Deep reddish-purple beetroot soup with beef simmered for hours to produce culinary magic.”

Ah, finally. Dessert.

Ah, finally. Dessert.

The New House.

The New House.

I am not old as long as I can climb to the TOP of Black Mountain.

I am not old as long as I can climb to the TOP of Black Mountain.

MADE IT!

 

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