Saturday, August 30, 2008


If you've come to check out the blog due to either the graphic design or the videographer inquiries on craigslist, welcome welcome!

If you're interested in looking at my newmedia work - the hypermedia project/theories - there's a string of posts that lay out the basic premise of the project, as well as some samples of my final product (which is actually still in process). They start early june - you can find them in the archives under Hypermedia Day ___ - i think i got through about fifteen.

You can also see samples of my dance and dancefilm work at - my dance company's website.

Again, thanks for the interest, and let me know if you have any questions!
Sarah A.O.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fuck Yoko Ono

Well just who da fuck do I think I am strolling in here 49 posts late thinking I can talk my chatty little nonsense all over the damn wall, like some absent father with a son just won the lottery? I must think I'm some sort of cool guy, my God. The slop of this, the human animal.

The urgent artist. As though the artist had to take a dump uptown and all the barnes and noble were closed.

It says the blog is for theory, meta, and mess from artists living by their work, in response to which I yield the following turn of phrase:

"Yes, yes to theory and mess, but meta: does it really matter?"

Matter, of course, pronounced to emphasize its similarity to the ahem, etc. earlier word etc. This would be enough to get me kicked out of any club. But. Perhaps meta does matter. And If So How?

I suppose I'm what you'd call an artist, which is to say, every so often I pop out a work or two makes me wonder maybe I'm not such a fuck up after all. The "Theories" I prize are those which keep my chin up while I'm wading through the mess.

For example: "Forward is when you put this foot in front of that one." Or: "When in doubt: forward." Ah.

For I am and have always been artistically short sighted. I've always thought I were duty bound to be like fucker Joyce and his grand master plan or fucker Nabokov and his ideas like galley slaves under the whip of his genius. And you know what, I also I thought I had to write songs in a trance as though possessed by structures of sonic light, all because some stupid loopy shit Tori Amos spat in an interview.

In fact, I have no great vision, and my works are concieved as they are wrought: step by bitsy fucking step. What people think of as a unified "work" is merely the aggrigate of these miniatures.

Also, unlike Joyce or Nabokov, I cannot "hold it all in my head." Each of my steps has to be recorded immediately to free up space in my flimsy brain. I try to record every whisp of intuition, because I know I will certainly forget it, or my anxiety about maybe forgetting it will preoccupy me so much I won't relax to think up anything else. I have never had a complex idea. I record little bits and flashes, and when I take a step back at the end of the day, I am surprised to see that complexity has accrued as though by the hand of another!

As a viewer, I tend to dislike works I could have come up with myself (for example, anything by Yoko Ono, or any didactic drama). I like things bigger than my flimsy brain. How hard is it to say "I will drop a piano from 600 feet"? That's a whole piece in one step! No no no no no! There are two types of chaos. There's "drop the piano from up high" chaos, but there's also "the accumulation of many tiny steps" chaos. The latter;s feeling of unified complexity results from the manyacts of recording on the part of the artist. Each little brushstroke, each little note written down. Intentionality. FUCK the monochrome canvas. W.O.W. fuck that right up the gum tree.

By which I mean to say, at the end of the day, when I step back and see something bigger than my thoughts, I get a treat similar to watching the work of another, with the added boost of knowing it came from me.

BUT I KNOW IT'S NOT MY JOB TO FEEL THAT WAY WHILE I'M WORKING. When I'm working my job is simply to literally or figuratively Put It Down On Paper.

So, from that we derive more Theory: "Always write it down." If I'm composing, record every idea, and every combination of ideas, on tape. If proof-reading, make sure every glitch gets noted in red pen. If I'm directing, the actors need to be able to retain my directions.

I suppose, then, that the Artistic Theory which most interests me pertains to the creation rather than the content of art. I guess that's "meta." So meta does matter. Sort of. But, and most importantly: process theory is not legitimate subject matter for art. Its private musings are best relegated to niche forums like this one, where there is at least a slim chance another artist will read them and benefit.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This is a trailer for the 2008 Live Arts Fringe Festival in Philly - the festival looks pretty cool. One of the pieces, which is sadly in here only for a second, is a dance piece where the three-people-at-a-time audience experience the dance from the backseat of a car, as the two people driving the car dance around and inside the car, and of course drive the car around. I'm hoping to get down to philly to see it - in the meantime i'll see if i can find any more footage.

Thought that the intro (jerome bel's piece) was funny given my questions of the role of the critic yesterday...Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reconsidering the Role of the Critic - does dance need dance criticism?

*Before you read this, check out the link in the post below to read the original discussion from Doug Fox's blog, Great Dance, that this post refers to.*

"Joan Acocella had better check her 'sell by' date because her article entitled 'Mystery Theater: Downtown surrealists' in the Aug 8 & 15, 2005 issue has the distinct odor of irrelevance. Her musings on my work and on that of the others mentioned are so badly observed and so off track that I have to speak up. Through her lack of understanding and her inability to reach out and get information from artists, she joins a group of critics whom I will call 'the literalists.' These critics do not know how to read dances created outside the restricted confines of the narrative or musical frameworks from past centuries. What's more, they don't do the work of finding out what is actually going on in the minds of artists or what are the contexts in which these works are created. They have reduced dance criticism to an explanatory, superficial, retelling of events steering the documentation of contemporary dance into an impenetrable forest, dark and mistaken."

-- Tere O'Connor, Letter to the New Yorker, posted October 14 on the Dance Insider.

Does dance need dance criticism? Does audience need dance criticism?
What is the role of the critic? What rules and duties are critics bound by, if any? Do we need to reconsider their role, or is it none of our business what (and how) they write about our work? I'd like to offer some thoughts:

1. The previous debate about this shows that everyone has an opinion, and a strong one at that. What seems clear to me after reading doug's discussion is that most of the comments made that agreed with Jowitt and Acocella (in that they didn't want to hear what the piece was about, they wanted to see it on stage) also cited a 'disconnect' between what the choreographer may have been saying or presenting and the work itself. In his response, Matt goes as far as to point this at the dance-tech choreographers in particular, although it is clear that other posters are talking about other types of dance as well (Karen, for example, cites ballet). The main concern, it seems, (and this is a concern that's been raised against my ideas, hypermedia and otherwise, over and over and over again) is that any talk, explication, or discussion of process or intention is in effect apologizing for the work itself if it isn't strong enough to convey these things on stage.

Why are we doing this to ourselves? I can't be the only one who feels like there's a direct link between the lack of dance being "explained", the lack of dance being studied, the lack of dance being seen, and the lack of dance being funded, but at times it feels like it. Yes. If the work is shit, then no amount of explaining could ever hope to save it - to argue otherwise is illogical. But that's not what we're saying when we talk about the need for and interest in choreographers dissecting and presenting their ideas and processes. And yes even "explaining".

To me, this "explaining" (your term, not mine) that choreographers are doing isn't acting as an apologist for their work. If the work is bad, it's bad. I don't think there's a singe person making work who thinks 'well, i can't get the movement in this part to work out, i'll just explain so people will understand' and i likewise doubt that most choreographers would think that they would have better odds working in the realm of words to convey something rather than movement. Certianly people want to defend their work. It's human. But if it's bad for you as an audience member it's bad for you, and no amount of words will likely change that. For me, when a choreographer wants to talk about "the ideas behind the piece" or "the process of making this section" it's an opportunity to learn. Potentially the most valuable experience i can have as a choreographer, listening to another maker talk about their process is a chance for me to consider their craft, intentions, product (and, yes, any differences between the two) as well as my own. It is a chance to broaden my understanding of how i make what i make, taking it from that vague abstract ether of "the muse" and making it a building block of skill and craft that i can then improve upon. "I find this satisfying aesthetically because..." "this happens here to echo the first phrase..." "i think this didn't end up working because..." "They said that was about what? I TOTALLY didn't get that. Why didn't i get that?"
Oh. I've learned something.

So, to me, it seems insane to dismiss a these discussions of process, intention, or craft that come from the choreographer because it is coming from the only person in the world who can tell you these things. I don't mean to imply that there aren't other people that couldn't tell you how the piece was made (the dancers for example) or choreographers that don't have a wealth of wisdom to share, but it seems odd that people are so affronted by someone wanting to share their wisdom. "Show it on the stage, then" which makes sense to me, but then i'm reminded by these same people that (to quote Leigh from the discussion) our audiences aren't "schoolchildren to be taught. They're guests to be welcomed. It's about them, not about us and our process." Let's face it. Product and craft are two different things. You wouldn't expect an author to include an explanation of the craft of his writing style in his novel, just the writing itself as evidence of it. But why would anyone take up arms against the author talking about his style? Wouldn't some people find it interesting? Couldn't people learn something from it?

2. Clearly, I'm all for choreographers talking process and intention, and i'm refuting the assumption that all talk of dance is as an apologist of bad work. So let's move on to the next step (yep, it's a long post kiddies). If we assume that choreographers have (gasp) a right to talk about their craft and dances - let's even assume that there's a legitimate need for it in society for those who are interested in hearing it - then what is the role of the critic?

It seems the critic has a few simple choices:
a) only look at the dance (let's call this "critic as audience")
b) look at the dance with inside information from the choreographer (let's call this "critic as confidant") or
c) become a mouthpiece for the ideas and intentions of the choreographer ("critic as teacher")

Now, about two years ago, i think i would have argued the third, that it is (or at least, should be) the job of the critic to help the audience learn about the production in question by gaining as much information as possible and then determining what could be most helpful to the average theatergoer. While i still think that would certainly be great for me, and many others who would be interested in getting "inside info" before seeing work (and while i think it's worth pointing out that major companies get this type of treatment while small upcoming choreogrpahers - who the audience perhaps needs the most "help" with - get only a few sentences), i no longer would argue that it falls to the critic's job description, real or desired.

Here's why.
In reading the comments on Doug's post, i realized that i did agree, in part, to what his critics were saying. It does seem somehow important, as Jeniffer Dunning puts it, "to respond as an informed audience member". That way, the critic really is just responding to what they are seeing, just as the audience will be asked to do, and in this way they are actually responding to the work in the way that an audience member might. (I'll hold off on my claim that this is impossible and so doing this is just pretending for this post.) As Joan Acocella puts it
"There's actually a word for that approach; it's the intentional fallacy in criticism (that is, you judge [a work] on its intentions). . . . I see myself as a member of the audience, so whatever the artist's intentions are, many of them—maybe most of them—I won't be able to discern."
Fine. Like i said, a few years ago i would have fought it tooth and nail, but right now i'm saying fine. This seems to point to the role of the critic as more of a ginuea pig than anything else (trying to represent how a "blind" audience will feel upon seeing this work for the first time) or an entertainment signpost (go see mark morris! don't see so and so!) rather than an educator or informed scholar, but so be it. If nothing else, this role for the critic is inherently FAIR, as it affords the critic the same experience as the viewer as much as possible.

So then.
This original argument that i'm talking about was from 2006 - back when Tere O'Connor responded to a review of his work that he found unhelpful and irrelevant by publishing the letter he sent to the new yorker in response on a few major dance site (click here if you haven't read it already - i can't even begin to explain how much it makes me swell with pride and excitement for the future). Clearly this argument is still very much happening, and i hate to say it, but repeating. So let's move on.
If we're going to insist that the critic mimic the same experience as the audience, so be it, but that won't really matter because...

(and here's the real issue:)
We need to stop asking EVERYONE (audience, critic, other) to only see a dance once, and we need to stop asking them to see it "blind". We need to stop thinking of dance critics as authorities on the craft of dancemaking - if they are mimicking the audience experience and hiding the fact that they posses "insider knowledge" ( awareness of most of the dance world, access to many more performances than most viewers, an audience that listens to their critique etc...) - if they want to be critics of the experience of being entertained, so be it, but let us think of them as such. And since it is not the critic's job to talk about The Dance itself, then it is our time, as choreographers, as skilled makers and thinkers who have something valuable that we can teach those who are interested in learning, to start "reviewing" - documenting, writing about, artifacting, and critiquing - ourselves.

Rather than fight against the idea that (again, gasp) dancers should be able to talk about their work, let's push all the way back and give the traditionalists something to take issue with. Why should we settle for having ANYONE see the dance only once, uninformed, or otherwise blind? No. The time to change the system is here, and there are people that are willing to fight for it. Me for one.

As of this moment, i do not know who the dance is for. But i do know that the terms of it are changing. Who is changing them? Me as the choreographer. It's my JOB. So listen to the critic, who's job it is to tell you about the experience of being entertained or frustrated, and how this thing that they've just seen looks on first viewing. And listen to the choreographer, who knows the dance better than they know anything else in the world, with a stronger love and hate that they afford anything else in their life, with more thought than is given to any other matter. Then listen to everyone else, yourself included, and you'll have the start of an understanding of what you're going to see.

The Role of the Critic...the debate continues...

Rosie was kind enough to send me this last night - its from a while back (2006) - before i started reading Great Dance - but is definitely worth a peek. It's a question of sorts that Doug Fox poses about the role of the critic (here in terms of dance reviews, but really applicable to any medium) that a bunch of readers jumped in on, each with a different opinion. Read the full debate here. My two cents to follow.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

"Ho Homo"?!

I'm a huge hip-hop fan and I'm glad the origins of this phrase have finally been explained. Oh, language.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Silent Rave" at Union Square

So i just got back from this "silent rave" thing at Union Square, and let me tell you sir,

The basic premise was that everyone would gather, each bringing their own iPod, or a splitter so they could share with someone at Union Square, and at 5:28 a mass "rave" (really just a danceparty) would break out, lasting till around 11. Get it? So each person would be dancing to their own music. It's, as one friend (from this point on to be referred to as "soulmate friend")put it "very low concept, high accessibility". I missed the beginning of the party, getting there at around 5:45, when there was a loyal but small (maybe around 100 people?) gathering of dancers, and a equally sized crowed gathered around watching, which grew as it got darker to maybe about 500.

See, the original plan was for me to check it out (as both a type of "flash mob" and a FreeNYC even, it was my first time at each), go check out this wireless cafe that i'll probs be working at tomorrow, and then come back later on, once it had gained momentum, IF it looked cool enough for me to join in on. And then MAYBE dance for a little, get home early, etc. Also, i thought that maybe i would meet my soul mate, or even just make a new friend. But i made the mistake of having music on as i walked by. I was coming from the L, so i had my headphones blaring, and i walked up with arms crossed so that it was clear that i was very very cool and quite skeptical about the coolness of the people involved. And i was watching, and my hip starts to bump a little, and my head starts nodding, and before you could say "this event is the opposite of cool but looks like a lot of fun" i'm jumping in towards the middle of the crowd and dancing my heart out. For the next four hours. Clearly, no one parodies me better than myself, when i'm being me seriously.

There's a lot to describe here.
Okay. So it was pretty cool to have so many different types of people dancing together. There were ravers, hip hoppers, hippies, thrashers, breakers, musical theater kids, some old people, cute little babies, people in costumes (banana, safety cone, large hat, and robot respectively), people in groups, people alone, all just doing their thing. More than having lots of different
types of dance altogether (because for the most part, that semi-dancing-semi-standing-around-awkwardly looks the same in any genre) it was really really nice to have all those different people together. I danced with people i would normally never get to dance with. It was nice to to control your own playlist, although sometimes too demanding. I went from hip hop to indie folk to some slow jams, and took a good half hour somewhere in the middle for a pomo+stretching dancebreak.

While i didn't meet my soul mate (i did
find one, and start up a conversation with him - the sentence i posted above - and exchange many more smiles with him as the night went on. But, nothing happened, so he's either gay, shy, or uninterested by very happy in my direction) i did end up dancing with some cool people. Mostly on the outskirts of the group, that's where you find the dancers who are most fun to dance with. Because we need more room! That's where i found Pink Friend and Asian friend, two ladies who were definitely at home rocking out. Which is why i was a little surprised Pink Friend let Creepy Friend slow dance with her, but she pushed him away after he grabbed her ass. Surprisingly the only creepy person of the whole experience though. There were two Sarah Lawrence people there - one dancing and one passing through and stopping to say hi, which was somewhat expected, but still cool to bump into. Also, i bumped into a friend from HIGH SCHOOL who i haven't seen since. Probably one of the more embarrassing places to run into someone, but it was great to see him all the same.

I had a great progression through the night.
It started with a mix of hip hop - mostly outkast, fugees, lauryn hill, and atmosphere - and pop singles (which were both basic club dancing), as well as some indie rock (which was more thrashing and jumping and bopping). After a water break, i moved on to some soulish Amy Winehouse and more rock (getting a little bit more modern - lots of organic cutting lines with my arms and torso). Had a little bit of a slow point shuffling through more indie rock, but then got back on top with a historically incredible succession of songs: Billie Jean, Tell Me When to Go, Under Pressure, Talk to Me Dance With Me, and then Lovefool. I think i had the most fun dancing to the ones where there wasn't really anything to do but be dramatic - acting really stupid in public is highly underrated.

The one thing that did catch my interest was the amount of onlookers and participants taking pictures - it reminded me of my mona lisa experience. So many people trying to capture something that (as you can see from the pictures) really doesn't translate that well once you stop it from moving. There were all sorts, actually. Lots of nightlife photographers, getting shots to sell/post on whatever the big networking site is now, a guy being dragged backwards by his friend through the crowd as he filmed, cell phone shots and pocket digital cameras abounding, and even one guy filming from his mac book. The audience too. Audience....viewers? Everyone wanted a piece to take home. To show to someone and say "this happened!" and really not much more. Hm. It's still really interesting to me.

In short: Cool that something like this (that was all orchestrated on facebook and other networking sites) could happen and not be shut down, cool that it utilizes technology to get people dancing, cool that so many people could have a fun time together. Interesting that people try to capture it - it made me wonder how many of them would go home and blog about it like me - and interesting to watch the audience's reaction. Not for cynics, but very harmlessly fun. I had a great time making a damn fool of myself, and getting a workout that was twice as long as a dance class, and 100% freer. There will probably be lots of shots online in the next day or two - feel free to post links if you find them!

And, last but not least, because it was so so so so good, the sneering hispter carrying Hemingway who got hit in the head with one of the beach balls that was being tossed around, and dropped his book, rolling tobacco, notebook, and sunglases all at once. For serious. Karma, man. That's what you get for sneering at people who are enjoying life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crisis Averted

Greetings, all. I write to you today under very extenuating circumstances. I've been given an opportunity that, in some respects, is quite an honor, but it has the potential to be the downfall of my faith in collegiate a cappella. And in music. I've been asked, for my second year in a row, to take the reigns of the all-male a cappella group at Sarah Lawrence. They've asked me to, again, be their musical director and visionary for the years to come (just kidding about the latter part). I'm hesitant and a bit pessimistic about the whole thing. Beyond leading the group musically, expectations have been set by alums of the group who seem to think the group is ready to compete in national competitions. Here begins my dilemma...

My musical abilities are innate almost--the only reason I'm a "good" musician is because I was told to be. Perfection is a must before anything else. I grew up in a house hold where music wasn't an option, it was a requirement. My thirteen year-old self would say that my mother forced me to play all those instruments (cello, piano, and viola) and practice them with no remorse: piano lids would easily "fall" on precocious fingers striving for excellency in the face of mistake; tears cushioned anger and frustration and pain while only sometimes getting me out of the dreadful practice sessions that took up so much of my adolescence. I've stopped playing since then but really my mother couldn't handle my extreme opposition. I chose a different path--my own path--that slowly but surely framed my "difficult" past in a new light. Nowadays, I look back on these stressful events only to be reminded of those negative times without appreciating that I actually was thriving. I may have been "damaged" but in truth, I learned something incredibly valuable: integrity before complacency.

This exampled followed me to the Chicago Children's Choir where Artistic Director Josephine Lee taught me what musical excellence was about. I performed weekly with this ensemble and rehearsed 2 to 3 times a week at best. We could be performing anything from Bach motets to Mo-Town Medleys but the learning never, ever stopped. Anytime we performed more difficult contemporary music where tonal clashes were ever present, we rehearsed them until they sounded the way they were intended to sound. Often, there was choreography for our Pop selections and that was an entire rehearsal's work. Coming from that and going to my college's a cappella group is like going from Carnegie Hall to street performing.

For me the conflict in directing this group again means sacrificing artistic integrity for artistic complacency. Like last year, we're good enough to get by performing once a semester yet anything more would be shooting in the dark. Sure, who knows what we could be? Really, though? Everyone knows what we're not. It's not that these men don't want to be good, they do. It's just that together, we're nothing exceptional and that's where it falls flat for me. I'm not sure that I can give myself to something that isn't going to change. In situations like these, patterns form fast and solidify quicker than we'd want them to. That's all that it is, though. The group may want change but, in the end, who gives a shit? Who wants to give themselves to something that's entirely temporal and will be over by the time they graduate from their very expensive liberal arts college.

Music is the essence of my life but there's still so much more to learn. I know that I'm "good" but it doesn't help that I don't think this is the right position for me to be in. I'm also good at convincing myself that something isn't right for me and 9 out of 10 times, I'm right. Maybe if I could just spend a year focusing on what I don't know instead of exercising what I do know, I'd be able to come back and view this opportunity more positively. Right now, leading an a cappella group seems almost as lucrative as running for class president--it glosses the résumé with glitter and doom. I can imagine later on, sending off my résumé to future employers, and hearing them laugh when they read "Musical Director of all-male a cappella group at Sarah Lawrence College: 30 hrs a week."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Project + good news

So, for those of you that read this blog who don't know me, some exciting news:
I've been selected as a Van Lier Fellow* for Dance Theater Workshop's 2008/2009 season!

I was nominated at the beginning of the summer (along with a good friend and fellow artist) and spent the summer working out an application. DTW asked each school participating in their college partnership program to nominate two dancers that had just graduated, and out of those 16, my friend and I were both lucky enough to be asked in for interviews (along with two other dancers out of the sixteen). In the end, it was narrowed down to two, one being myself! (a later post on the grossness of having to battle between friends like that, and that feeling of getting it).

The fellowship includes:
100 hours of studio time at Topaz Arts in Queens
a paid internship at DTW (which i'll be doing feb-august of next year)
a mentor (yet to be decided) who i'll meet with 12 times throughout the internship
workshops on grant writing, life as a dancer etc.
discussion groups with other DTW artists
and free tickets to DTW's entire season!

This is obviously a * HUGE * deal for me, and honestly hasn't even really sunken in. Suffice it to say, it feels like all the work that i've put in for the last four years has really been recognized. To have DTW say that they're excited about what i'm doing is probably the most exciting part of the whole thing. It feels damn good.

In my proposal for the fellowship, i detailed both the dance and hypermedia work that i've been doing (and sharing with you, ferocious reader). As part of the proposal, i noted that i would be chronicling the work that the project entailed here, on the Urgent Artist. So, you're in for a new project that's both interested in movement making and hypermedia theorizing/actualizing.

Here's the just of the proposal:
- make a piece using the same basic structure of "spots of time" that i used in my piece-before-last, "the What's Left Over After". The idea of the "spot of time" is Wordsworthian, but i came across it through Joyce, in the way that he uses it in Ulysses. The idea is basically that there's a single event (the one that sticks out for me in Ulysses is Bloom and Molly's tryst in the countryside with the seedcake...god what a scene) that multiple characters orbit around - somehow stuck on what occurred (each noticing different parts and taking different impressions). I really like the idea of making these little events, and really getting them the way i want them - crafting a "reality" for the "characters" in the dance. Then, once these self-contained "spots" are set in stone, the piece is choreographed by decaying and interconnecting the spots - taking the event of the spot, and showing it from multiple viewpoints and memories, as well as giving it a context beside the other spots that are occurring. So. What i'm doing for the fellowship is just making these spots. Really taking the time to get them right. Ideas for spots so far include: "13 variations on a car crash", "glassbox", "headphones for lillie", "the timeline", "Him and Her", "catalog of dreams i've had since", "you fucker, you punched me in the throat", "sugarcubism at the Picaso museum", and "drunk woman song". I definitely won't end up using all of them. It's just a starting point.

- I'm also invoking hypermedia yet again. After all this non-embodied theorizing, it's high time i get back in the studio with it. So i'll be filming every rehearsal, just like last time. I want to look especially at how hypermedia (and film footage of everything) is helpful to me as a choreographer - actually, how it can evolve me and restructure the dance-making - as well as if it can be helpful to the dancers in a parallel way. I've also asked a technologist friend if he wants to sign on to the project and play with "artifacting" our makings, but i'm waiting to hear back if he's available.

So those are the two main points. And that i'll be blogging about it all the way. With you. I hope you're excited for this! Or maybe just waiting and seeing. That's okay too.

So to end, here are some things that I want to explore in the piece itself:
- using an understanding of video editing/FCP mindset to make movement (especially playing with slow/superfast motion and with retrograding but with that re-wound look)
- visual art component (in the last piece it was the letters, i'm seeing red string and plywood sheets for this one...)
- as always, hard falls
- the way a bird looks when it flies one direction, then all of a sudden has to change to a different direction
- partnering-heavy duets, some of them using sexual actions (like kissing, not a whole lot more, don't worry...that's another project) as movement
- ideas from Chuck Palahniuk's "Rant" (which i HIGHLY recommend)
- brief, exact, drunk unison
- images from specific dreams i've been having
- cubism as a structure for editing and re-working movement

So that's that.
As ALWAYS, would love to hear any ideas and/or responses! I'm in the process of looking for music still (not even for the final project - just to get me thinking), and one more male dancer. If you know where i can find either, give me a holler.

More to come!

* The Van Lier Fellowship is a program of Dance Theater Workshop and is supported with funds from the Van Lier Fund of the New York Community Trust



Finally getting around to posting these...
These are from my last piece "D()lL@rS !N ThE B@nK!"
I'm hoping to post a reflection on the piece itself later on this week (especially in terms of what i've learned works/doesn't work). Dancers are: Meghan McCoy, Kait Crowley, Kate Kernochan, Hillary Ford, and Mandy Hackman (in black), Lillie DeArmon (in maroon), Laurel Atwell (in
gray), Cavin Moore (street clothes), me (black street clothes), and Larissa Sheldon (white).

more to follow...

Friday, August 8, 2008

For your slo-mo pleasure...

I'm having trouble getting this to embed, but it's definitely worth checking out the link.
Vid of slow motion lightning and the way it connects with the ground!

Via Gizmodo, check it out here!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Theorizing, Failing, and Telephone Piano

Originally I had planned on writing my first post on the notion of the "empty celebrity" (re: Sarah's post) but soon realized I had nothing to offer on the topic besides some angry thoughts on reality television and how Heidi Montag is destroying the world with what I like to call her veneer of reality. I then began thinking about what it would mean to prescribe two core functionalities to the "empty celebrity:" the first being controlled authenticity, or verisimilitude. But then the second function got lost in my head when I left for lunch. Also, I spent yesterday at work trying to find an online version of John Dewey's "Art as Experience" but was unsuccessful. And while I was at work, I was IMing Sarah throwing ideas at her like, "The 'empty celebrity' is the contemporary equivalent to Modernism!" What I really meant was, "I have no idea what to write for my first entry on this blog."

I wouldn't consider myself an artist per se--not yet, at least. I live by what I know to be true. I know that I'm urgent. Or anxious. Or excited. Or something along those lines. But that's what art is about, isn't it? It's about formulating ideas and trying them out and saying to yourself, "Hey, that was a terrible idea." I'm eager, that's all, and my contributions to this blog will probably seem that way. Alas, nothing is stopping me! I will venture forth and write like I've never written before.

  1. Commentary on this and that about you know who and you know what.
  2. Reviews of the best thing you've ever heard, seen, (and most importantly) eaten.
  3. Excerpts from Ann Patchett's What now?
  4. 2012 theories and undercover reports on the black market for stolen art.
  5. AND MORE.

But first:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Just wanted to take a second to introduce some of the Urgent Artist's new contributors, and welcome them to the blog. Welcome! Nick and Carmen are our newest writers, so keep your eyes out for their respective first posts. Additionally we have the lovely I'Nasah who, while she is not-quite-new on the blog, certainly deserves a welcome too.

As always, if you're interested in being one of the writers for the Urgent Artist blog, drop me a line at, and I'm glad to hook you up!

On George Michael and vicarious living

So last Thursday was one of the best night evarr because I saw George Michael live in concert at Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA as part of the George Michael 25 Live tour. (Yes, as far as I'm concerned, it's still 1987. Deal.) It was an amazing show. Besides the fact that the man is a true, timeless slam-dunk of a singer/songwriter, it was a visually stimulating wonderfest.

Firstly, there were two laaaarge TV screens hanging on the left and right sides of the stage. But the large screens were made up of several smaller screens, or panels. Then the middle of the stage was one large screen. Think of a wedding dress with a train, where the fabric falls down the body and out across the floor. It was like that, the wall and the floor was one, and George (and his backup singers) did his/their thing on the floor. I took a great pic at the concert that clearly illustrates what I'm talking about, but of course I left my camera at my friend's house this weekend, so this pic from Access Atlanta will have to suffice.

(squee that's him standing in the middle sqee)

You get the basic idea. You can kinda see the two other screens in the corners there. So throughout the concert, the screens were filled with lots of "ooooh shiny!" Sometimes it would be neon colored light patterns, stimulating a club environment. Or images of stars, hearts, rainbow colored rings, close-up shots of him on stage, etc. What captured my interest the most though was when he would play the music videos of whichever song he was singing. Some of them I had never seen before, some of them I have seen numerous times. I'll include a few below.

As time went on (it was about a 2 1/2-ish hour long show) I noticed that I was paying more attention to what was going on on the screens than what was going on onstage. Granted, that might have had a lot to do with where I was sitting (not even remotely near the front row), but still. Like I said, some of the videos I had previously seen, but my eyes were glued to the screen as if it were the premerie. I actually have to repeatedly remind myself that I paid $117 to see George Michael LIVE, not the pre-recorded version of him that I could watch for free on YouTube.

So of course I start thinking about the relationship between technology and art. Namely interatcions, enhancements and substitutions. In this particular case (a live music concert, which has to do with moving, articulating, producing bodies), technology was presumably used to enhance the live experience. However, for myself and, I imagine, other audience members, at certain indeterminate points during the concert the technology began to shift from an enhancement of the experience to a replacement for the experience. I doubt that this was the intention of whomever designed/concieved the concert (what do you call those people? the formal title?), but it's an interesting side effect.

I don't hanve any grand statement to make per say, but I think it's something worth bringing up, not just for dance or music, but for the arts in general. Where does enhancement end and replacement begin? Where is the line? Is it possible to enjoy the ease and expansion that technology can bring without missing out on the actual experience? Or is it a new experience altogether that will occur and that we're trying to achieve?

As an illustration, think of those little palm pilot-like things that you can upload and read books on. Convienent - now you're able to condense the weight of several books into one palm sized gadget. Easy - able to magnify the words if you're near-sighted, etc. But it completely replaces the expereience of reading a book. Or does it enhance it?

I'll leave you to some George Michael videos while you ponder. Enjoy!

(p.s. I can't find an embed version of the first video on youtube, so I'll upload it directly at a later date. until then, I'll link it.)

Old School George, using supermodels to illustrate a song that criticizes the downsides of a visually-based culture. Brilliant! and sexy.

New(er) School George, using dancedancedance!

And a clip from the 25 Live show. You can kinda see the lights and stuff I was talking about and yeah, the re-arrangement of the song is so loverly.