Jane Comfort's S/He. Photo by Arthur Elgort, Courtesy Comfort
What do choreographers Mark Dendy, David Neumann and Edisa Weeks have in common? They all cut their dancing-and-talking teeth with Jane Comfort and Company. This month, they, along with 20 other former Comfort dancers, return for the company's 40th Anniversary Retrospective. In excerpts from 12 works that draw on Comfort's political and gender satire and her signature rhythmic complexity, the tone ranges from haunting to ribald. High points in this Lumberyard production will surely include Four Screaming Women (1982), Underground River (1998), Faith Healing (1993) and S/He (1995). April 5–8. lamama.org.
The author (with her hair down) in Jane Comfort's Deportment
These days I work as assistant to shoe icon Steve Madden. It's a busy job, and it had me running late for my first dance rehearsal with Jane Comfort and Company after…22 years? Yikes!
When Jane asked if I'd like to perform in her 40th-year retrospective, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I'd worked with Jane for many years, and really missed her and the process of putting a show together. The pieces I'd be performing involved mostly gesture, like Four Screaming Women, and singing and acting in She/He. At 64 years old, I was thrilled at the chance to hit the stage again.
Here is my list of favorites from this year, some of them with video clips embedded. I've also added "lingering thoughts" about certain situations in the dance world. As usual, my choices are limited by what I have actually seen. Most of the following are world premieres.
• Andrea Miller's Stone Skipping in the Egyptian room at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient and ultra-modern at once, gaga-initiated grapplings, telling many stories of people in struggle and solidarity. The group sequence (with her company Gallim plus dancers from Juilliard) from lying on the floor with pelvis bobbing to standing, to swaying, to skipping wildly about was transcendent.
One of my favorite parts of working with Wendy Perron over the past 12 years has been listening to her talk about dance. More than anyone I know, Wendy can explain a piece of choreography or a dancer's approach in the most visceral, compelling way. She doesn't even always use words—sometimes she turns to sounds or body language to fully describe something she loves.
Having a casual chat with her can be like getting a master class in the most interesting dance going on right now. And as Dance Magazine's editor at large, she sees a lot. She's one of the most well-connected people I know in the dance world, so more often than not she's got juicy insights, strong opinions and fascinating background info.
We decided to share this with you by filming a short video clip each week, capturing Wendy talking about the dance events she's most looking forward to in our new series, "What Wendy's Watching." Or, as she puts it: "Just wind me up and make me talk dance."