Maybe it's because of the political climate in the United States, but I have been dreaming of other places, specifically Europe where there's healthcare and leaders who can phrase coherent thoughts.
Europe has often held an allure for American dancers, whether rightly earned or not. Forget Kickstarter campaigns, working three or more jobs, small audiences for anything but the most popular ballets. In Europe, so we hear, there’s government support, health insurance, audiences who can tolerate — even like! — risk-taking work by choreographers emboldened by a more liberal climate.
When three European companies came to The Joyce Theater, I jumped at the chance to, at least, mentally leave America. Were my European desires rewarded?
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Dresden Semperoper Ballett in David Dawson's 5 from Giselle. Photo by Yi-Chun Wu.
Whether you like it or not, the world is getting flatter, to use the metaphor Thomas L. Friedman employed in his bestselling book that analyzed the spread of globalization. Information can be exchanged easily and frequently, often with the messenger having no idea where his, her, or their message will land.
In dance, where the medium skews to the visual, new works appear daily on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. You can fall down a rabbit hole watching video after video of pieces you’ve never seen by choreographers you’ve never heard of.
This acts as a marked change from a decade or so ago. While dance didn’t develop in isolation, news took longer to wind its way around the world. Now, with borders virtually erased, dance acts and reacts to itself, raising the question if where work is made influences what kind of work is made.
For three weeks this fall, The Joyce Theater hosted a trio of companies from Europe, bringing this question to the forefront of my mind. Tero Saarinen Company (Finland), Compagnie Maguy Marin (France), and Dresden Semperoper Ballett (Germany) have little overlap in substance and style. Their programs, however, suggest that, underneath the gloss and fervency that characterizes much contemporary dance, the world is not . . .
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