“This marvelous space dedicated to dance and performance in Long Island City, Queens, has just purchased a permanent facility in the neighborhood, but for the time being its forward-thinking presentation will continue at its current home.” —Gia Kourlas, New York Times
I knew that the creative process for “bend the even,” the latest project by the improviser and choreographer Jennifer Monson, involved rehearsals on a prairie at dawn. So when the work, which opened at the Chocolate Factory on Tuesday, began in silence and dim light, I settled in for a meditative experience, a slow reveal. But the first sound came as a shock: a floor-shaking rumble that felt like the start of an earthquake.
Most of New York's dancemakers struggle to secure space to develop their work. But, for Jennifer Monson's latest piece, nature has provided...provided a place for research and exploration...provided motivation, inspiration, even, in its way, partnership.
Wake up before sunrise, head to the prairie and start moving. No, this was not your ordinary rehearsal process. But nothing’s ordinary when it comes to the contemporary choreographer and improviser Jennifer Monson who has been creating daring works in New York’s experimental downtown dance scene since the 1980s. Ms. Monson, 56, has long been drawn to the natural world, too. In 2000, she changed her choreographic course and began exploring the relationship between movement and the environment. For her five-year “Bird Brain” project, for instance, she and her dancers — performing outside — followed the migrational path of birds and gray whales.
Near the start of the choreographer Keely Garfield’s “Perfect Piranha” on Friday, she filled her mouth with water and spit on the floor. Then she filled her mouth again and pursed her blue-painted lips close to the faces of viewers in the small Chocolate Factory theater. Where would she spit next?
Let’s give thanks for the good things in dance this year. More than anything, I’m grateful that, despite a tough funding environment, there are more than ever artists making work and much of it has been extraordinary. It’s hard to choose only a few to highlight.