Old Flames and New Names at APAP

In some ways, APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) makes the dance world go round. Without this annual meeting ground of presenters and small performing arts groups from all over the country, very few dance companies would get work. Yes, you can send your video to a potential presenter, but if they can see you perform live, they are more likely to know if your work is right for their audience.

APAP showcases are spread throughout NYC and they cover the gamut—muscular modern, chamber ballet, minimal conceptual, tap, urban dance, classical Indian and more. I attended only five of the hordes of showcases (40 groups were listed at the Ailey building alone in the last two days). It’s hard to keep track but even if you’re not a presenter, APAP provides a chance to catch up on your favorite artists’ current work and see groups new to you. It can be as thrilling to rediscover an old flame as to discover a new name.

Getting gigs through APAP means that the people who book you can see your offstage personality too. Cynthia Oliver showed BOOM! at the Live Artery series at New York Live Arts, and the crowd could see not only that she had created a gutsy, funny, harrowing duet, but also, in the brief talk afterward, that she speaks easily and eloquently about her work.

For me it was a chance to see out-of-town artists I hadn’t seen before, for instance San Francisco’s Keith Hennessy in his shamanistic Bear/Skin solo, as well as work by cherished New York artists that I can’t always keep up with. Tere O'Connor, Miguel Gutierrez (both part of American Realness) and John Jasperse (in Live Artery) always push the boundaries in ways that are stimulating.

Anyone who has a hankering for Israeli dance would have enjoyed Out of Israel, the showcase of five excerpts at the 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center. Zvi Gotheiner’s energized dancers threaded through his spirited Dabke. Idan Porges, a performer who blew me away in Barak Marshall's Rooster a few years ago, is now making his own work—very much his own. In Danielle Agami’s new piece, For Now, each dancer breaks out of a mask of diffidence to explode in their own way.

I was happy to see a new showcase titled Emerging Women of Color at the Ailey building, organized by dancer-turned-booker Francine Sheffield. I was impressed by strong work from Ananya Chatterjea’s fierce, Odissi-based women of Minneapolis and Christal Brown/Inspirit’s foray into the life of Muhammad Ali. I also discovered a new name, Danielle Russo, an NYU grad who paired two guys in a gripping battle between aggression and intimacy. Weird confrontations—chin to throat, crown of head to chest, violent crashing into confident strutting—locked these two in a sweaty, sexy world of their own. 

There’s one more day to APAP and I am not done seeing things or taking workshops. Whether you’re on the giving or getting end, I hope you enjoy it.

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