Works & Process at the Guggenheim, conceived by the philanthropist Mary Sharp Cronson, has been at the heart of New York City's cultural life since its creation in 1984. For nearly four decades, it has offered a peek at the creative process, inviting composers, choreographers, actors, dancers, musicians, designers and others to talk about and show the work that goes on behind the scenes of a new creation.
As enlightening as it has been, Works & Process' impact on the performing arts (and especially on dance) has grown even further in recent years, as the series has focused increasingly on commissioning new work. Some of the most innovative and interesting artists of our time, often at a formative point in their careers, have developed work at Works & Process, including Pam Tanowitz, Michelle Dorrance and Jamar Roberts.
COVID-19 proved to be a galvanizing moment. Just weeks into the pandemic, general director Duke Dang pivoted the series to virtual commissions. In all, Works & Process commissioned 85 digital works, helping artists to not only survive but, just as importantly, to sustain their sense of purpose.
The series also developed a protocol, in consultation with Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, for creating work in person during the pandemic, through the use of "bubble" residencies. A small group would quarantine and rehearse together in a remote spot, subject to frequent testing. Out of this painstaking process emerged the basis for over two dozen new live and digital works, many of which have already appeared or will premiere at the Guggenheim in the months to come.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Works & Process came to the rescue of the performing arts, swooping in when help was desperately needed. Out of that support emerged a wave of creativity, one that reflects the regenerative power of art in a time of crisis.
Special Citation: Dr. Wendy Ziecheck
Along with presenting the Chairman's Award to Works & Process, Dance Magazine is also recognizing Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, who helped create and supervise protocols for the bubble residencies that kept so many dancers working throughout the pandemic. A former ballet dancer herself, Ziecheck was the medical director of the Rockettes for nine years, and is currently an internist in private practice.
Betti Franceschi, Courtesy Ziecheck
Join Dance Magazine in celebrating Works & Process and Dr. Wendy Ziecheck at the December 6 Dance Magazine Awards ceremony. Tickets are now available here.