Thank goodness that dance comes in many forms. Thank goodness too that there are many options for audiences to view dance. In the two-week (September 23 – October 1) run of Jennifer Monson/iLAND: in tow (premiere), both audience and performers were given all kinds of options. For in tow, Monson invited 10 artists from different decades, different disciplines and those with different aesthetics to be part of the on-going process in developing in tow. The final product—was always, in essence, unknown. Like the on-going and ever-evolving process, neither the make-up of the audience nor the performance was pre-determined; each evening was different. Those performing were called collaborators and include: Monson, Susan Becker, DD Dorvillier, Niall Jones, Alice MacDonald, Carol Mullings (lights), Valerie Oliveiro, Zeena Parkins (sound design), nibia pastrana santiago, Angie Pittman and (part of the process but not performing) Rose Kaczmarowski and David Zambrano. Sure enough, there were questioning faces all around, but the collaborators gave the event life. One evening went like this: the audience arrives and the collaborators casually greet their friends with hugs and chat until the lights lower and it was time to switch into performance mode. The space, St. Mark’s Church, had a rack of clothes (or costumes) in one corner, old-fashioned cassette players near the alter, a harp, different shaped objects in the main space, and a grouping of what turns out to be electronic equipment for sound designer in another area. Once activities began, there was a lot happening and not happening at the same time, objects were moved from here to there, clothes were taken off, tossed to the side or put on, bodies collided and movement would result, and so on. Most satisfying was listening to Parkins shift the atmosphere with her pointed sound scape and watching how Monson and Dorvillier, long-time collaborators, connect from far across the room. At the open discussion afterwards Monson shared that she is thankful that in this open forum, there is no judgement. Beyond the satisfying unknown, and though the history of what this work is built on is understood, there is some thought that lingers around privilege and opportunity.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member at The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."