Autumn in New York

I am back in Santa Barbara, marveling at the clarity of the air and the quiet of the streets.  NYC is truly an alternate universe.  It is one of my great pleasures in life, while in New York, to reconnect with dancer and choreographer friends I have made over the years.  When possible we meet for dinner and if I’m very lucky and the timing is right, I have the pleasure of watching them rehearse.

My NYC experience was intense as it almost always is.  I watched in awe as Aszure Barton shuttled between rehearsals at ABT and BAC (Baryshnikov Art Center). Aszure shared a program of new work with choreographers Alexi Ratmansky and Benjamin Millepied, set on ABT dancers and performed at Lincoln Center. During the same period, she busily rehearsed her dancers in Busk, for its premiere at the Ringling International Arts Festival.

Doug Elkins, SUMMERDANCE 2004

I felt very lucky to spend a wonderful afternoon catching up with my dear friend Doug Elkins who is in the middle of touring Fraulein Maria, as he gears up for a two-week run at Dance Theatre Workshop in December. Anyone reading this who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of seeing Fraulein, BE THERE! I’d love to bring Doug back to Santa Barbara when the time is right…

Click here to read the story behind the creation of Fraulein.

October 7, 2009

Tamango (Urban Tap) and I met for lunch in the East Village at the buzzing Café Mogador.  Even in normally blasé city of NY, T turns heads wherever he goes.  I think it’s his striking combinations of headdresses, jewelry, patterns and color that people seem to universally respond to. We have a happy reunion, just grinning at each other for several minutes. In the few weeks that I am in NY, Tamango travels back and forth to dance twice in Paris as well as in Brazil.  Over multiple glasses of Moroccan tea, our conversation traverses great distances as well.  I learn that his two year- old daughter is a little artistic clone of her father, painting, and already listening intensely to music and stamping out rhythms! The magic of dna.  Tamango and I share a love for Japan and I daydream about going to Sado Island the next time he performs there with the Taiko drummers!

Tamango, SUMMERDANCE 2005

Watch Tamango perform  here.

October 12, 2009

Larry Keigwin at SUMMERDANCE 2005

Another lunch!…  today with Larry Keigwin to work out details of his upcoming April 2010 DANCEworks residency.  My first Saturday in town, I was just in time to see Larry’s company perform a new work, Sidewalk, in the theater of the Guggenheim Museum.   Danced to Steve Reich’s music, it was smart, funny and furiously paced; classic Keigwin.  Over lunch we determine that Larry will mount Bolero Santa Barbara during his residency.  I’m to recruit “citizen” performers from various groups who typify Santa Barbara to perform with his company onstage at the Lobero Theatre for the performance of this new work. Yogis!  Surfers! Skate Boarders!  Flamenco Dancers!  Are you listening?!  Come one, come all, April 23, 24, 2010.

Watch New Yorkers rehearse New York Bolero.

October 15, 2009

Way back in 1978 when my husband was on sabbatical at UCSF, I was young enough to take classes with choreographer Margaret Jenkins in her then new Mission Street studio in San Francisco.  I had never studied Cunningham technique and for several months during class, I was up when the rest of the class was down and vv. For the most part, saw myself sticking out like a sore thumb.  Marge was always a no- nonsense teacher who showed a combination once or twice and after that YOYO (You’re on Your Own!)  Most of the time I couldn’t even remember how the combination began, but somehow, I hung in there, admiring this charismatic, centered and brilliant woman and innately knowing that I would be a better dancer because of her.  I cried when that year came to an end and it was time to return to Georgia. Little did I know that 15 years later, Marge would do a guest residency at UCSB  and stay at my house. We’ve been fast friends ever since.

So it was with much anticipation that my husband and I traveled to Montclair State University in New Jersey to see her cross-cultural collaboration with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company of China. Marg goes where others fear to tread.  She dreams large.  She realizes her dreams and enriches all our lives because of it.  Don’t miss Other Suns, if it comes to a theater near you.

Check out Jenkins website and schedule here.

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  • Nicole Wolcott November 17, 2009  

    Beautifully written. Hope I get to see you next time your in town. Got to see Brett and Meagan at Tere’s show….miss you guys. Have fun this spring, I hope you are going to be in Bolero…..

  • Dianne Vapnek November 17, 2009  

    Hope YOU are going to be in Bolero!

  • Dianne Vapnek December 6, 2009  

    Oh I miss you too. You’re in so many photos I have. Hope all is going well with you. I’m having fun writing. You’re welcome to be a guest blogger anytime you’d like to!

  • Dianne Vapnek December 6, 2009  

    Thanks so much Judi. I am having fun with this.

  • Elaine Nakashima April 2, 2010  

    You’re a beautiful writer, D. Thanks for so generously sharing your experiences and bringing us closer to the choreographers we love. Particularly grateful for reading the NYT piece on Doug Elkins’ career revival. Hooray!

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