I love going to places I've never been and I love it even more when I can go out with great company. We had a long weekend so I really took advantage of it. Here were some of my favorites:
1. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Last Friday (December 6), Rachel Straus (my mentor under the fantastic Juilliard Mentoring Program) got us tickets to watch the 8PM show of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The show was at the New York City Center located on 55th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues.
This was the first time that I've seen a dance show in New York City and I was lucky enough to see it with someone who writes reviews on dance and is well-versed in dance history (read more about Rachel here). Whenever I would watch a ballet or a contemporary dance performance in the Philippines, I would always look for spectacle. By "spectacle" I mean clean lines, athleticism, "acrobatic" abilities, ease in executing difficult movements. As a viewer now, I think I should be getting more than spectacle in watching a dance piece which is clearly an art form.
Upon asking several questions on "how to watch a dance show" from Rachel, it was interesting to me how much engagement I have to bring in watching a genre that does not necessarily have a clear beginning, middle, end or narrative. It is an individual experience in the sense that I would have to find meaning and expression for myself through the movements of the dancers.
What I loved most in our conversation was the common dislike for "pretty." In any work of art it is not enough to be pretty because life is not pretty. When you give the audience "pretty" what happens is that after the performance people will go back to their phones and talk about what they did during the day as if nothing had moved them. Life is a mess. When you give people art you must include conflict or some form of resistance.
Last Saturday (December 7) afternoon I walked through the entire Highline along Manhattan's West Side. This was such a treat to me as I am fascinated by places that have been transformed. Highline was originally a railroad track that was converted into a public park. While walking through the Highline I got a view of Chelsea Piers, which is another place that was transformed from a set of piers into a place with a golf course, a sports center, a skating rink and so on. St. Ann's Warehouse (where we saw the all-female production of Henry IV) was indeed a warehouse that was transformed into a theater.
I find it amazing how people can look into "old things" or "old places" and instead of seeing something that has to be torn down (worse, allowing them to look abominable through neglect and/or indifference), they see new possibilities for these spaces. New York has the artists who have the vision, the means and the volition to transform those spaces.
I have seen so many dilapidated buildings or areas across Metro Manila and it would be amazing if artists would collaborate to transform them. For (as what I've seen around Highline, Chelsea Piers and St. Ann's Warehouse) when you transform spaces, you transform the communities around them.
This is a good practice to cultivate - that instead of sitting by the benches quietly admiring another artist's work - to go seek them out and have conversations with them. One never knows what one may find.
I am a Graduate Drama student at The Juilliard School from Quezon City, Philippines.