#SidewaysSaturday: Trisha Brown and Amelia Rudolph—Two Generations of Dance on the Flip Side
On April 18, 1970, in lower Manhattan, a man walked down the side of a building. Super casual. Can you imagine what the unsuspecting passersby must have thought? I'm thinking something along the lines of "That man is jumping off a building—someone save him!"
Hopefully any initial panic subsided once onlookers realized that the man was walking—quite slowly, actually--and not jumping. This was not some sort of freak occurrence. It was dance. More specifically, it was Trisha Brown's Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. Aptly named, huh?
I'll admit, I was somewhat skeptical when I first saw this piece. I thought, "That's not dance!" But then last week, I stumbled upon Project Bandaloop. Founded in 1991 by Amelia Rudolph, Bandaloop is a dance troupe that experiments with what they call "vertical dance performance"—aka dance on its side. Back in 2010, DS had a conversation with company member Rachel Lincoln, after the group performed on the 50-story Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas, TX. But apparently, I've been out of the [Banda]loop, considering I just recently heard about this awesome dance troupe!
Here's a demo reel of their work, just in case you're also out of the [Banda]loop.
When I began scanning through videos of their various site-specific performances, I immediately remembered Trisha Brown's Man Walking Down the Side of a Building. And I think that's when I started to get it.
The cool thing about dance, and art in general, is that different generations play off one another. I'm not saying that without Trisha Brown, Bandaloop would never have existed. But she definitely laid down some serious groundwork for them. She made people ask themselves: "What is dance?" and "What is a stage?" And isn't art all about making you think?
Trisha Brown (who will be 77 in November!) announced last January that she is retiring. Her company is currently on a 3-year international farewell tour. They're also working to compile a bunch of her materials--videos, notebooks, etc.--online. But it's nice to think that if her company does go the way of the late Merce Cunningham's, Trisha Brown's influence will live on! And I'm sure Bandaloop isn't the only company benefiting from her legacy.
OK, I promise I'm done philosophizing for today...it is Saturday, after all! But I'll leave you with this video that sort of brings it all together. Last Spring, Amelia Rudolph had the opportunity to perform Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, or rather (Wo)Man Walking Down the Side of a Building, at UCLA. Generations collide! Read about her thoughts on the experience. And here's that video I promised you:
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.
Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!