Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan presents an array of programs including DraftWork, showing dances that are in the process of being created. The first piece, Invisible Landscape, during a March 2014 session, was choreographed and performed by Aretha Aoki. [Read more…]
Samantha Spies: The way it Was, and Now
We see a young black woman with dreads. She wears a long skirt and a sports bra. The light comes on as she stands in the middle of the altar at St. Marks Church. It is March 23rd, a Friday night, and we are watching Samantha Speis.
She moves her arms, her torso, and her legs. Her facial expression looks pained. She dances from the altar to the main floor of the church. Clothes are scattered everywhere. I am getting chills. After Speis dances for a while she drops onto a pile of clothes. She gets up and falls many times. We are seeing her struggles in life. She tries and fails but never gives up.
Then – something we do not expect – [Read more…]
When words will not suffice, it is up to the dancer to challenge questions in the most powerful way — through movement. Kyle Abraham, Marjani A. Forte and Samantha Speis challenged questions with their movement as a part of Danspace Project’s Parallels 2012 curated by renowned improvisational artist, Ishmael Houston- Jones.
Originally, Parallels took place at Danspace Project in 1982, and featured post-modern African- American choreographers, artists who didn’t identify with the traditional “black dance” as defined by the mainstream Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Thirty years later, Houston- Jones challenges a new generation of choreographers asking, “In a time when the President of the United States is the progeny of a Kenyan and European American, what real meaning do the terms ‘Black,’ ‘Afro-American,’ or ‘African American’ hold? Does ‘outside the mainstream’ have the same resonance that it had three decades earlier? How have new generations’ ideas evolved from the time of the first Parallels?”
In the first dance, “The Way it Was and Now (First Rendition)– performed at Danspace Project as part of the PLATFORM 2o12: Parallels series— we find Samantha Speis, performer and choreographer, wearing a colorful African skirt and a midriff top. She begins to make motions with her body on a stage that is covered with all kinds of clothing. Suddenly, the lights turn off and Spies starts to cover herself in the pants, shirts, coats and other articles that surround her. We can see that she is troubled; she is tired and in pain. She gets on the floor, grabs pieces of clothes and zooms across the room to make a huge pile. All the while, the music guides her, telling her where she can throw herself.
The second dance, Here…, choreographed by Marjani A. Forte, revolves around four dancers. Each has a special attribute. One of the dancers is a military man, another a business woman, the other, a wife, and lastly there is a woman dressed as a dancer. They all have emotional faces. We can see worry, yet we also notice a desire to understand. “Why are we alive?” the dancers seem to wonder. [Read more…]
The lights went out, making the scene ominous. A little girl was revealed to be crouching in the middle of the floor when the spotlight illuminated her.
The music came on, surreal and mechanical and clockwork sounding; it sounded steampunk. It was slightly disturbing, but not unpleasant. The other five dancers came out when the music started, shaking their heads and limbs, walking forward with the music, with their eyes closed.