Friday, October 21, 2011

NDEO Conference Day 2

Day 2 of the conference began with an early breakfast/awards/business meeting. That was followed with a jazz class with Billy S. His dynamic energy comes out not only in his class but in the way that he talks and walks. Truly the only instance in my life where, with all seriousness, I can call someone a true “swingin’ cat.”

Over lunch I did some work on my presentation and then found an Office Depot to reprint my handout. While checking out the white board setup in the space I will be presenting in I ran into Shirlene from Long Island School of the Arts. It has been about 10 years! She was great to work for and with and I get a kick out of how simultaneously both big and small the dance world is.

I attended a panel discussion on collective/collaborative models of dance making. It brought up many questions for me about the modernist ‘one person/one vision’ company model versus the project-based model versus the collaborative and collective models.

A couple of the panelists were truly committed to the postmodernist perspective that the collective is the only way to go and that the modern dance tradition of the company bearing one name is hierarchical, self-aggrandizing, and oppressive. Other panelists found that collaboration (but not a collective) was the way to go because of the frustrations inherent in a too-large collective.

I have always worked from a project-based model myself while increasingly trying to explore more ways to approach collaboration. Why? Because these two situations frustrate me: 1) the consensus-based committee that talks for hours about ways in which they might do something but never get anything done and 2) the collective-based artist group that allows no one person to take the lead on a project with the final result being all compromise, no direction, no vision. I am process-based, but all process and no product (or a poorly articulated one) gets tedious.

This all applies to my presentation tomorrow. The panelists who are a collaborative team but have elected to stay just between the two of them and not become a collective (citing past frustrations with the ineffectuality of the collective model) are part of the emerging transmodern trend I see coming out of the postmodern. And the return to individuals identifying their work or company using their name is not a return to the self-aggrandizement of the super-serious lone modernist genius, but for the practical reasons of working in a brand conscious 21st century and to break free from the barrage of kitschy-cute-ironic company names that plague the dance scene. 

Just thinking out loud...

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