DANCENOW honored twenty years of dance, kicking off their Anniversary Festival Celebration on September 9th.
DANCENOW began in 1996 when sixty artists featured their work in eight downtown venues during the multi-arts series known as the Downtown Arts Festival. The annual series featured dance performance at Chelsea Piers and at art galleries in Soho and elsewhere, before settling at Joe’s Pub in 2003.
The 2015 Festival is a pleasant mix of modern dance and performance art; quick set-ups make for a light evening where everything seems possible. DANCENOW is brilliantly curated and produced, with one to five minute solos, duets, tap dancing, political commentary, circus, and even quippy asides about cross-dressing. It features a wide range of performers, including Jessy Smith and Sydney Skybetter, B.S. Movement, and Jane Comfort & Company.
The Bang Group began with a whimsical performance, Bubble Wrap. Jumping, stomping, and diving onto a bubble wrap created an energizing moment before Raja Feather Kelly, Bryan Strimpel, and Shaina Branfman welcomed the audience, reminding them to pledge to return next year. The evening continued with a solo, Money Bounce, performed by Jonathan Emanuell Alsberry with choreography by Aszure Barton. Honoring hip hop and influenced by tribal dance, the hops and leaps became punctuated by a fierce gaze out. Another stand-out performance was from The Cox Brothers, with their premiere of Talkin’ & Walkin‘. With music inspired by Danny Kaye & Liza Minnelli, the comical number featured the fast foot work and plenty of flowing chiffon. In Whistleblower, Mark Dendy appeared in a bright yellow dress, gesturing while the audience listened to voice-over from Hillary Clinton. With The Return of Lot’s Wife, Performance Artist Sara Pearson spoke her own text while throwing salt, creating a ritual space that provided a bit of levity in an otherwise pensive, psycho-spiritual piece.
DANCENOW doesn’t fail at flexing its muscles, giving viewers a glimpse of an invigorated NYC dance world. With nothing precious about the intention of the performances, the festival announces that their artists are here to stay, and their messages are worth hearing. The small stage and the minimal lighting at Joe’s Pub provide an intimate feel for the evening. Though fear, pathos, and satire take the stage, they don’t overwhelm the evening. DANCENOW maintains its values of artistry and sensibility, and above all, provides a great sense of possibility.
At the end of the show, there was plenty of confetti, as the dancers burst through a fourth wall. Less of a party, and more of a respectful celebration of downtown, DANCENOW maintains its dynamic tradition, without losing its savoir faire.