David Gordon's Archival Fun House
One view of the exhibit, photos by W. Perron
Stepping into the David Gordon exhibit at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts is like crawling into the attic of an unstoppably lively mind. The renowned postmodern choreographer (and playwright) has loaned hundreds of objects for the exhibit, called “David Gordon: Archiveography - Under Construction.” Photos, props, videos and costumes from the last 54 years are crammed into the Vincent Astor Gallery with no space between things. No preciousness or grandeur here; as with the 1960s aesthetic that Gordon has built on, it’s a kind of celebration of the ordinary—with the special Gordon wit and playfulness sprinkled throughout. You'll see things from five decades all at once.
Two fun facts: David and his wife Valda Setterfield got married January 28, 1961, only eight days after John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. Their son Ain was born July 4, 1962, just two days before the launch of the notoriously groundbreaking Judson Dance Theater (of which Gordon was a founding member).
The great constant in this zany but rich travelogue is Setterfield, Gordon’s wife and muse. Of course, many other excellent dancers have performed the wide variety of his oeuvre. There has been choreography with chairs, choreography with arguments, choreography with scripts, choreography with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Searching for these things in the exhibit can be like going on a treasure hunt.
You’ll see props that have been recycled in many productions—things like rolling ladders, rubber balls, cardboard doors, stuffed dummies and folding chairs—all artfully stashed in this attic archive. You’ll learn which costumes were bought at Macy’s or Daffy’s or Century 21 or a thrift store, and which ones were designed by the likes of Santo Loquasto. For which performance did David Gordon wear lamé overalls? When did Setterfield wear silk? Why did Gordon wear a bloody lab coat for his first piece at Judson Church? How many Duchamp references can you find in the show?
Video of Valda and David embedded in the exhibit.
If you can't make it to the Library before April 6, when the show closes, check this example of a funny feisty family album.
But do visit the exhibit—and bring a friend or relative of any age. You will both walk away feeling that a flood of creativity has washed over you. Archiveography reflects Gordon’s prolificness, his stubbornness, and yes, the grandeur of his work over time. And this is only Part I! When completed, the multiyear project will be donated to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the Library, which is always worth a visit.
There's a rare moment in Broadway's Hadestown where the audience is able to breathe a sigh of relief. The smash-hit success is not well-known for being light-hearted or easy-going; Hadestown is a show full of workers and walls and, well, the second act largely takes place in a slightly modernized version of hell.
But deep into the second act, the show reaches a brief homeostasis of peace, one of those bright, shining moments that allows the audience to think "maybe it will turn out this time," as the character Hermes keeps suggesting.
After songs and songs of conflict and resentment, Hades, the king of the underground, and his wife, the goddess Persephone, rekindle their love. And, unexpectedly, they dance. It's one of the most compelling moments in the show.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
There's always been something larger than life about choreographer Mark Morris. Of course, there are the more than 150 works he's made and that incisive musicality that makes dance critics drool. But there's also his idiosyncratic, no-apologies-offered personality, and his biting, no-holds-barred wit. And, well, his plan to keep debuting new dances even after he's dead.
So it should come as little surprise that his latest distinction is also a bit larger than life: The New York Landmarks Conservancy is adding Morris to its list of "Living Landmarks."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.