Dancers & Companies

What It's Like to Dance All Night

That feeling when you have four shows between 7 pm and 7 am

What does it feel like to dance an all-night marathon of performances? Five dancers recently found out during Trisha Brown: In Plain Site, part of "A Night of Philosophy and Ideas" at the Brooklyn Public Library. The festival of screenings, debate and performances took place in over 30 cities around the globe, with the Brooklyn edition lasting from 7 pm on January 28 to 7 am the next day. The Trisha Brown dancers put on a series of four site-specific performances, and Mariah Maloney kept a diary of her experience:

4:45 pm: I'm heading to the Brooklyn Public Library. In my overnight bag, I've packed five six-inch balls, a blanket, pillow, yoga mat, headphones, toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, lotion, deodorant and sparkling water.

7:45 pm: Our guide navigates us through the crowd to the Commons Room to listen to Trisha Brown's audio recording of Skymap (1969). I lay down with fellow Trisha Brown dancer Brandi Norton to absorb Trisha’s voice.

8:30 pm: Stage manager Jessie Ksanznak calls half hour until our first performance. I put on headphones to listen to Bob Dylan's “Early Morning Rain,” gently letting my feet find the rhythm, allowing my arms to enact Trisha’s 1973 Spanish Dance score, where a dancer slowly raises her arms like a magnificent Spanish dancer and travels forward in time.

Spanish Dance in 1977. Photo by Tristan Vales via trishabrowndancecompany.org

9 pm: I walk to my floor tape near the returns desk and take my place in the center of five women. Leah Morrison, at the far back, begins the piece; Vicky Schick is next; then me; then Amanda Kmett'Pendry and finally Brandi.

I hear people shifting as they try to get a view. Leah and Vicky’s soft pitter pat footsteps approach my body, a whisper of a knee visits the back of my right knee and then my left knee and I can feel the surface of Vicky’s body against mine as my body joins the passage of Spanish Dance. I see Amanda’s long braid with slight blue streaks and I allow my knee to visit the back surface of her knee. I am the center of the sandwich as we meet Brandi; I feel a wonderful squish and suspension within the line of swaying bodies.

Harmonica vibrations reverberate through the library. Suddenly we stop, pressed up against the wall. A wave of energy, clapping, laughter and conversation erupts from the audience. We have made our first foray into this evening.

Next, Vicky captivates the crowd with an except from Son of Gone Fishin’ (1981). Brandi and Leah locate opposite ends of the Grand Lobby for Trisha Brown’s iconic Accumulation (1971). And the performance concludes with the Groove and Countermove (2000) duet performed eloquently by Amanda and Leah.

Vicky and Brandi in the green room

9:45 pm: I rest in the green room, rolling on my balls.

11:45 pm: Group Primary Accumulation begins. I lay supine on the floor, watching the crowd overflowing the Grand Lobby’s vast architecture: Bodies are filling the ground level and peeking over the edge of the second- and third-floor balconies. First gesture: right finger tips rise toward the ceiling, elbow releases to the floor. Repeat first gesture, add second gesture. Repeat first gesture, add second and now third.

12 am: I ride the post-performance energy and engage in conversations with audience members.

1 am: Brandi and I find ourselves in the midst of a yoga session.

1:30 am: Seated at the calligraphy table, I find it hard to focus. I join a few strangers in the Commons Room where I rest on mats and pillows.

1:45 am: I feel like I am going to fall asleep and decide moving will help, so I join a dance party to Michael Jackson in the Grand Lobby with 100 other night owls. My body feels loose, warm and easy, but my eyes feel heavy.

Most of us are horizontal

2:15 am I lay down in the Commons Room with a group of people listening to rapper LA Latasha Alcindor. I realize I am fading fast. A cup of hot tea is essential.

3 am: Back in the green room, most of us are horizontal, some sleeping, and some resting yet awake.

4 am: Quiet conversations, costumes, fresh applications of makeup and movement begin. The stage manager calls half hour and we start to rally.

5 am: The once-crowded library gives way to an open floor. Small clusters of people gather around the periphery. We arrive into the space for another Spanish Dance; Bob Dylan’s music begins and so do we, joined by the inspiring Trisha Brown dancer and "Night of Philosophy and Ideas" curator Iréne Hultman.

Next, Vicky performs an excerpt from Son of Gone Fishin’ (1981). Amanda and I then dance part of For M.G.: The Movie (1991): We initiate layered gestures over one another, I dissolve into a slow motion solo transitioning from standing to floor level while Amanda rises to vertical, moving into the space with a feisty solo.

Wake up and dance: Vicky and Irene

5:15 am: It's fascinating to feel our exhausted bodies respond to the unique experience of dancing this choreography. The early morning becomes a sort of group meditation as thousands of people rally through the wee hours.

The performance concludes with Group Primary Accumulation, a work that requires a great deal of concentration. As we enact the final gestures, there is a sense of absolute solidarity with our audience. We stand up and find ourselves hugging each other. We have entered into a different state, one that feels unformed, flowing and dreamlike. The Grand Lobby feels relaxed—the space is our home, a home where thousands of people have gathered to exchange ideas and to witness.

6 am: Quick selfie with the group

6:30 am: Many slumber party library-goers witness our final performance of Spanish Dance. Some quietly try it on their own bodies, hips swaying in solidarity with us. A final Groove and Countermove by Amanda brings us to our finish line.

All done, and heading home

We make one last trip to the green room to change out of the white costumes, give hugs goodbye, gather our things and head home. As I get in the car, I fall into my seat, deeply content as I feel the experience of the life-changing night wash over me.

 

 

Get more Dance Magazine.

 

Jacob Jonas directed, filmed and choreographed last year's Best Overall winner. Image via Facebook

What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.

Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular

By Rick Tjia, Dance Talent Scout, Cirque du Soleil Casting

The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.

Keep reading... Show less
AXIS Dance Company. Photo by David DeSilva, Courtesy AXIS.

Now in its 30th year, AXIS Dance Company, the pioneering physically integrated troupe in Oakland, California, is celebrating with a new artistic director, a new logo and expanded ambitions.

Keep reading... Show less
Delores Brown, photo via mobballet.org

When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.

But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.

Keep reading... Show less
Nathan Sayers

Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.

Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.

"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers & Companies

Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers & Companies
PC Elena Fetisova

Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.

Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Danielle Peazer, photo by David Salafia

When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!