30.8.13

informalfloor finds a new floor. just as informal.

I've moved!

All posts (new and old) can be found at 

informalfloor.wordpress.com

why? the layouts prettier. 

20.8.13

My dog died.

She really did. Or, rather, we put her down. I'm gone in NY, so I didn't have to bring her to the vet (she hates vets). And I don't have to throw away her food bowl, toys. It's harder for the rest of the family.


a poem written by friend and author Russell Hill

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Bella

She ran in the darkness after a ball I could not see,
into the sea I could not see, came back
and dropped it at my feet, waiting,
vibrating like a tuning fork.
She ran into the lake in the evening,
the lights at Zephyr Cove winking on,
came out, shook icy water on us,
waiting for the ball to be thrown again.
In the park in the darkness
she ran until my arm was tired.
She sat in my truck, her head out the window,
and when I went into the store
she moved to the driver’s side,
as if she might decide to drive off.
Her muzzle grew grey
but always the sweet face, the silky ears,
waiting at the bottom of the stairs
which way, which way she asked.
She watched television
only to keep someone company,
became from time to time, ellen’s dog,
sofia’s dog, emily’s dog, christopher’s dog.
She lay at the corner of the coffee shop
and raised her head
to those who bent to tell her,
you’re a good dog, aren’t you?
Best dog, black dog, sweet dog, big dog,
dog of our hearts.

---


12.8.13

Charlotte Bydwell's "Woman of Leisure and Panic"

Charlotte Bydwell, writer and solo artist of Woman of Leisure and Panic shares the same name, the same city of origin (Montreal), and the same aspirations for artistic success, as the character Charlotte in this 45 minute work. But the character Charlotte displays an unrelenting knack for living a life of stress, dissatisfaction and distraction. Such self-flagellation would never lead to the funny and complicated work that Bydwell has created. Premiering in 2011 at the terraNOVA Collective’s soloNOVA Festival, and performed this month as part of The New York International Fringe Festival at the 14th Street Y, Leisure and Panic is an unsettling but engaging mirror of our own obsessions.
Leisure and Panic begins with an emphasis on the importance of art and creativity (Bydwell’s modes of artistry are numerous, including dancing, writing and acting). With a fat marker on an oversized calendar, Charlotte marks off designated time to “create.” This, we understand, is her priority in life, even though, within minutes, the calendar is overlapping with time to exercise. Time to work. Family time. There is no time to do it all. When Charlottes cell phone alarm blares, she bursts into a fit of jumping jacks, (the phone acts as a sort of theatrical chorus, often used to propel the play forward). When the phone rings, it is her boss asking her to cover a shift. When there is a moment of quiet, she fills it with flirtatious texting. Oddly, the one thing we never see Charlotte attempt to fit in is that oh-so-important act of creativity, an absence that makes Charlotte shallow and taunts us with the question of what a real artist is…can you really schedule inspiration?
It is useful to separate the artist from the actress when the realism of this work makes the absurd exaggeration of her regimented and stressed life believable (and made all the more fresh with perfect comedic timing and beautifully simple stage directions). Some moments of despair hit close to home and are met with knowing laughter, like when Charlotte spends hours trying to text a response to a possible love interest, only to end up lamely typing “ha”. With a crown of flyaway hair illuminated by backlight, Charlotte is at once hysterical and angelic.
This dualism of personality is a continuous rollercoaster of emotions, leading to exhaustion that manifests itself in an unhealthy relationship with her body. Bydwell’s script nonchalantly reveals the mindset of a girl with an eating disorder. From obsessing over calories, to exercising during a date on the floor of a bathroom, to constantly measuring herself, abuse to the body is more realistic and more disturbing than any other theme in the show. Bydwell never slows down to assess this imbalance and possible disease. Anorexia is projected as de rigueur for a person with deadlines and dreams, and any possible commentary on health is passed by. By not providing respite or solutions to an unhealthy life and unfulfilled artistic life, Bydwell depicts an existence too blinded by everyday distraction to delve into true passion. This makes the work better, not worse. By not acknowledging deeper issues, this one-woman show maintains the narrow viewpoint of a 20-something artist who can only focus on what is right in front of her.
Leisure and Despair is without a climax, though the build up of anxiety desperately calls for emotional release. The character’s distress imitates that whirling unstoppable flood that audience members associate with their own lots in life. Leisure and Despair keeps us in its distressed vortex, and by the end of the show Charlotte’s anxiety is ours. “That’s what my life is,” a woman leaving the show said to her friend. “Can you say, ‘Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday’?” This build up of anxiety is both frustrating, and perfect. We are like her, and although this is nothing to brag about (the character is possibly jobless, definitely penniless, and with little respite on the horizon) it engenders solidarity. And while the work’s perceptions and mockery of modern life ring true, by neither condemning nor romanticizing a hectic lifestyle the audience is simply left to question how much their own life resembles this onstage stress-fest.
It’s interesting that we only see Charlotte frayed at the edges as she aspires to ‘create,’ when Leisure and Panic is so beautifully crafted. No such work would be produced from the lifestyle that Charlotte the character leads. Charlotte Bydwell found a way to create an engaging and multilayered play, regardless of distraction or outside demands. Apparently, though, she doesn’t want to give out that secret just yet.



1.7.13

Loose Ties


For Hee Ra Yoo, choreographer and artistic director of Yoo and Dancers, New York is a web of difficulties, ensnaring even its most optimistic residents. Yet Yoo’s young company took control of the Dixon Place stage June 27th, dancing boldly in the new work “Almost There…” Sharing the stage with a tangle of ropes, the six dancers form a supportive corps, helping one another as they weave their way – and sometimes get stuck – in chaos.

photo: Ji Ye Kim

Yoo and Dancers appropriate doors, walls and railings of the theater for their dancing needs, a measure of command that is a welcome reminder that the company is performing “Almost There…” as a culmination of three months work at Dixon Place’s artist-in-residency program. Dancers hang from the bannisters. They use support beams as anchor points for the carefully choreographed flexible cords that dissect the stage; throughout the piece, a new cord almost always serves as a transition into a new movement phrase or effort.

So progresses Yoo’s “Almost There…” And if the structure is formulaic, it is also a pleasant build of form and energy and sheer stuff onstage. The choreography would benefit from less linear progression, though. Balletic phrases, peppered with Horton hinges and side tilts, are beautiful on the trained dancers but superficial. “Breathing can give an impulse to movement, a notion that is common in my native Korea,” writes Yoo in the program notes. Interestingly, there is no breath connection for the individual or group in this work. Dancers often pause mid-step to sync with a partner or plow ferociously through a phrase to catch the rhythm. Extrinsic movement that stemmed from the limbs actions rather than a subtler core kept the movement skimming the floor and unstable.

It would be interesting to see how “Almost There…” would change if it borrowed the kinesthetic and somewhat aimless quality of its’ most memorable section. This moment is one of the first in the hour-long work; on an empty stage, Lauren Camp sits with her back to a passive coil on the floor. Her attention is rapt, focusing on her right hand that gently becomes a force, compelling her foot to move in tandem with its gesticulations. With singular focus and articulate care for the symmetry of this foot-hand connection, she breathes a calm essence into this solo, and we breathe softly with her. Camp’s winding motions lead her slowly to the unassuming rope. Once acknowledged, the coil enlivens, beckoning and teasing her along its path. And so begins a slow progression of the dancers weaving ropes across the stage, gamely ensnaring themselves even as they simultaneously push against this entrapment.

Oddly enough for a work that largely consists of dancers imprisoning themselves, “Almost There…” never provokes anxiety. One dancer, in a noose of yellow and pink rope, cocks her head at an entrapper (whose hands guiltily paw the strings hanging from her companions neck) and smiles. Dancers maddeningly step into traps, squirm for a moment, and then slip out of the binds. If Yoo is meaning to imply that New York captures idealistic residents in its web, then she also implies that liberation from this web is as easy as simply loosening the knots that you tightened yourself.

"This work is about our collective dream to reach our desires in a modern, chaotic world. The dance emerges from New York City, (and) is a constant reminder of the forces of people in a crowded space," read Yoo’s program notes. As the dancers smile at one another through their apparent difficulties, it becomes clear that the “forces” Yoo mentions are forces for good. She recognizes the support a crowd can bring, rather than the suffocation and detachment that a pessimist may see in a crowd.

“Almost There…” is aptly affirming and uplifting in its final moments.
The music surges. Dancers leap outwards in unison, a firework bursting to a final hurrah. The ropes break, and now unstrung, they lie pathetically on the floor. These were our binds? Our restrictions from our desires? Yoo seems to ask. The dancers join together and smile. They will ascend to their dreams now. If only they have the gumption and wherewithal to leave those ropes on the floor this time.



7.6.13

Unsolicited logos

When I first worked as an intern for The Yard on Martha's Vineyard in college, I tried to come up with a new logo for them. Their current logo looks like this:


My attempts looked something like this:


Today, I felt like revisiting the project and some drafts look like this:
or


I'm happy with the progress and my ability to play more in design now. It's collage done more seamlessly, more consciously. 


21.5.13

Dedicated Space



you can read it here (with comments and other reviews) on the Dance Enthusiast:

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You are supposed to hear a soundscape of measured plops and drips. The rippling waves of noise a balm your senses as you watch the dance gather in its own amplifications. Instead, “Bathtime Studies: Duet,” choreographed by EmmaGrace Skove-Epes becomes a collaboration with an unknown guitarist performing in an adjacent room. Skove-Epes, sitting on an inset windowsill watching Gyrchel Moore and Nadia Tykulsker perform her choreography, doesn’t flinch at the overlapping of performances. It washes over her.

“Bathtime Studies” was one of countless (you could count – I didn’t, as the performances spanned four hours and multiple rooms, hallways, bathrooms) works performed at AUNTS' "Time Share: Chain Curation". The show, with an entrance fee of a donation of clothing, or beer, or “just whatever” also doubled as a flea market and snack party. You watched the dances, or ate instead. Discussed the artists’ work, meandered from one installation to the next, or just got drunk, as you pleased. Many did please, filling Arts@Renassaince in Greenpoint – a bleak structural core stripped of any decoration– so that to watch a woman fingering herself in a corner room meant pushing past a crowd. It’s odd, pushing your way through sardined bodies to get a good view of a vagina. Is closer better for a detailed view? You can see she’s shaved, and pink. But edge back a few steps. Watch the woman behind you in the red bathing suit with a wedgie and long blonde wig scrape her knees against the cement as her body shakes heavily in time to the sorrowful song of a woman wailing.

The solo form dominated the evening, and one had to wonder if choreographing for one (and usually oneself) was purposeful or by necessity. It is gratifying to watch an artist seep into an idea with singular clarity, but intention sucked some of the dances into vortexes of themselves. A dance that began with pained crawling on the floor also middled and ended on that floor, in that pain. Improvisation can find movement and expression unknown to the choreographed dance, but dance one note for ten minutes and the audience will move on. Maybe they’ll go get another beer.

A choreographed duet does not allow complete release into the dance while performing. There are parameters that you and your partner agree upon so that your singular clarity has structure and perhaps some striated thinking behind it that comes from collaboration of different mindsets. “Bathtime Studies” has great sensitivity to form – patterned time and structural grids loosened with movement - that comes from a necessity translate a singular idea to the audience that both dancers and choreographer have agreed on.

When the guitar from the other room overpowers the “Bathtime Studies” soft music, Moore and Tykulsker rely on the syncing of their internal rhythm. After a brief prelude of establishing the edges of the room in three quick jaunts around the space, the duet settles its focus on a rectangular ladder of tubs, spaced out equally in 2 rows. They begin plucking their way up and down the rows with a bucket weighing heavy in their hands, slowly pouring their burden into the bins. When Moore plunges her foot into a container that isn’t yet filled with water, the lack of physical or audible resistance suspends the step for a moment – it is the grasp of your foot as it reaches for a step that isn’t there. When both women simultaneously bury their faces into the miniature pool and blow bubbles, this gives us pleasure. When they submerge their eyes, mouth, nose, and are still, we still our breath, too.

Accessing what the audience knows of water – its density, heat and wetness – Skove-Epes creates a work that physically attunes viewer with performer.  When the dancers repeat (and repeat) a unison duet that traverses them precariously along the raised edges of the bins, their speed increases incrementally each time. The subtle intensification is enough to make your eyes, nose, mouth wonder what it will feel like to be pushed into the water this time. Your body wonders what this dance feels like, and so you are eager to keep watching.

The decaying walls of Arts@Renaissance are strong enough to enclose each performance within a dedicated space, and spatial separation is enough to justify the self-contained nature of each solo (and sometimes a duet). But the music will not stop at physical barriers, the audience can leave midway through the piece, and the desolation of the space makes each dance grey and lonely. One dance seeps into the next and their singular purpose is blurred. Perhaps it was an ensemble work all along. 

23.3.13

A most generous man.

I just can't. This man is my favorite. A wonderful human. A photographer with a stunning ability to catch the pauses and the crevices, in skin and soul.

His blog is almost unbearably intimate, into the lives of others (particularly in war and conflict zones).


He photographed the images used almost exclusively to promote PCDC's season.

You can read my interview with him here. But really, just go to his website and support by simply looking.

An email Sebastian sent recently:

A tiny story

One day before breakfast , an orange rolled off the counter and escaped its fate, bounding happily through the kitchen door.

Filled with hope the egg followed! 



And with that my obvious adoration for anyone who could send an email just containing that message becomes clear. 

13.3.13