Dance through New York in a summer of joy and sorrow

For Andrew Avilá, the dancer I met at A Party Called Rosie Perez, one form of movement galvanized the other: first paralyzed by pandemic ...


For Andrew Avilá, the dancer I met at A Party Called Rosie Perez, one form of movement galvanized the other: first paralyzed by pandemic despair, he regained his urge to dance last summer, when ‘he “marched all over town” to protest police violence. It was a relief to “scream in the street and sweat” with strangers, to listen to the pulse that precedes any choreography. Around the same time, DJs dropped beats underneath a viral video of a woman named Johnniqua Charles, popping her hip at a security guard who handcuffed her and wouldn’t let her fit in. the club to retrieve his purse. She freestyle, half talk and half rap through the unfairness of her situation, until she locked herself into a persuasive rhythm, a hook worth repeating: “You are about to lose your job. ” In response to nationwide protests, a few authorities have in fact been placed on administrative leave. But the energy embodied by Charles goes far beyond modest reforms. Her singing and dancing affirmed a fundamental demand for freedom of movement: even if she was not allowed to move from here to there, she would, ingeniously, continue to move where she was.

The market is eager to appropriate and harness this kind of anarchic energy. No one owns the tango or the twerk, but many well-placed people have found fame and fortune by citing the dances of the underclass out of context. Jayna Brown, African-American studies researcher at Pratt, recounted the story of this dynamic in American clubs and cabarets. In her book “Babylon Girls,” she shows how American vaudevillian Ruth St. Denis, often considered a mother of modern dance, built her reputation by adapting the carnival fantasies of the Egyptian and Indian movement to the turn-of-the-century scene. . Irene Castle, another white vaudeville dancer, started a lucrative business in the Roaring Twenties translating dances she learned from Harlem choristers like Ethel Williams for high society parties. In the middle of the century, Carmen Miranda, of Portuguese origin, was the privileged emissary of Afro-Brazilian samba. “With a few exceptions,” Brown writes, black dancers “had to work behind the scenes.”

It can be difficult to admit that sometimes we need to learn to treat our own bodies and those of others with curiosity, courage and tenderness.

But the visibility offered by contemporary technology has not really solved the credit and compensation problem. In late June, a group of black dancers from TikTok – which has grown to include Challan Trishann, Erick Louis and Marcus Greggory – called for a creative strike organized around Megan Thee Stallion’s latest single. They were tired of seeing the dances they invented go viral via white influencers who usually didn’t credit them as choreographers. But with key dancers seated at this point, the impersonators struggled to come up with a choreography, despite the song’s clear instructions: hands on my knees shaking ass. The strike made it clear who was driving the innovation on the app. Matthew D. Morrison, a musicologist at NYU, has analyzed these digital developments in real time on Twitter: TV, etc., but social media offers a totally different level of access and possibilities than before. An almost frictionless experience.

The “social” in social media is not the same as the “social” in social dance. Online, there is no face-to-face accountability. Meeting in the real world once made strangers and amateurs risk embarrassment. Even Irene Castle must have let Ethel Williams see her sweat. The dance floor cannot be mastered as a choreography phrase; improvisation requires something more than imitation.

It can be difficult to admit that sometimes we need to learn to treat our own bodies and those of others with curiosity, courage and tenderness. Concept artist Adrian Piper, who was raised among upper-middle-class black Americans in Washington Heights, had this in mind when she designed “Lessons in Funk: A Collaborative Experience in Cross-Cultural Transfusion.” Between 1982 and 1984, she traveled the country teaching large groups how to “ATTACK AND PARTY.” TOGETHER. ”Later, she recounted the experience in her essay“ Notes on Funk. ”Like Dunham and Kincaid, Piper found that her avant-garde elite peers struggled to compete with her formidable intellect. – she received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard – with her unwavering commitment to black popular culture. But her experience as a go-go girl and her lifelong study of rhythm and blues have been a success. equally rigorous education.

She started by “demonstrating some basic movements” and then, with the audience, “repeating, internalizing, repeating and improvising on them”. Every now and then she would introduce bits of musical history and political background. When the collaboration was successful, what it claimed to teach its audience “turned out to be a kind of fundamental sensory ‘knowledge’ that everyone has and can use. But even when it was less successful, the experience provided a sustaining environment for the ugly feelings sometimes caused by social dancing: “annoyance, embarrassment, embarrassment, resentment, contempt, shame,” all the interpersonal funk that we usually try to avoid or scrub clean.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Dance through New York in a summer of joy and sorrow
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