In The Studio: Kyle Abraham On the Eerie Beauty of Our Current Political Climate
The ever-so-busy Kyle Abraham is back in New York City for a brief visit with his company Abraham.In.Motion as they prepare for an exciting spring season of new endeavors with some surprising guests. The company will be debuting a new program at The Joyce Theater on May 1, that will include two new pieces from Abraham, restaged works by Doug Varone and Bebe Miller, and a world premiere from Andrea Miller. Talk about an exciting line-up!
We caught up with Abraham during a recent rehearsal where he revealed what he is tired of hearing in the dance community.
What is typically the jumping off point in your choreographic process?
Generally each process is really different from the next. When I think about a piece like Drive (a work of Abraham's that premiered last year), I did have an impetus and a fire to create a certain type of work, and I was drawn to Theo Parrish's music. For Dearest Home, its themes were already in place before we got into the studio and then we made changes to the material in terms of timing and quality.
Catherine Ellis Kirk and Marcella Lewis rehearsing "Dearest Home." Photo by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography, Courtesy Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts.
We recently posted a story about what we wish for the dance world in 2018. Is there anything specific you are looking forward to seeing?
I love dance and I really appreciate the work that is being presented. I feel lucky to be able to see what's happening on both the East and West Coasts—and what's happening abroad. There is so much amazing work out there.
Abraham.In.Motion rehearsing "Drive." Photo by Tim Barden.
Is there anything you're sick of seeing?
No, but the one thing that is driving me crazy is when people talk about the age of the current President because for a lot of people that are disenfranchised, they were already disenfranchised. So if you're just now making work because of this man it doesn't really make sense to me. I'm not saying it's wrong but I don't really know how this one event has shifted the dance world so much. I guess it takes a different spark for everyone to wake up or feel affected. It's the eerie beauty of our current political climate. Whether it's a trend or not—it's still doing something for the greater good.
Abraham.In.Motion will be at The Joyce May 1-6.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.