Many of us have learned over the past months that art is a form of self-care. Emotional and intellectual vistas are opened, connections are made, small spaces expand, and spirits are lifted through the arts. While pictures on a wall offer quiet experiences, performing artists bring sound and movement to amplify their messages and meaning.
The Joyce Theater, which proudly proclaims itself as one of the very few dance theaters built by dancers, has brought more than 400 companies to New York audiences over its thirty-plus years. The pandemic has left the stage empty, but dancers are still sharing their work with the theater, which then shares it with audiences virtually through its online platform, JoyceStream. Its latest round of free streaming dances starts December 7th and runs through January 3rd.
The roster includes beloved favorites as well as artists who’ve never performed at the Joyce Theater before. It’s all about giving artists a chance to connect, offering audiences new curated experiences, and keeping dance going till the theater can reopen. With the practically unlimited audiences made possible by free, online performances, JoyceStream’s season may even help it emerge stronger than ever, especially with artists as vibrant as the ones they’ve lined up.
“Indigenous Enterprise: Powwow Style” presents a group of champion dancers from indigenous peoples of the United States and Canada. They describe their style as “Native American meshed with a little bit of hip-hop.” They were the first Native American troupe to perform on NBC’s “World of Dance,” and since then have traveled internationally bringing their unique movements, sound, costumes and culture to worldwide audiences.
“I believe humans can fly,” says Elizabeth Streb, creator of “Massive Rotations” by Streb Extreme Action, “and I’m trying to figure out what is the iambic pentameter of action.” Her dancers climb, dangle, and jump from large, spinning machines. They mix the athletic and aesthetic, and push the limits of dance. “What you see is what is true about movement on earth based on Newton’s laws,” says Streb. You’ll be challenged and understand, when you see it.
Vanessa Sanchez & La Mezcla is a small, all female tap troupe from California dedicated to “creating a new Chicana percussive aesthetic,” according to Sanchez, who started the group because she’d never seen someone who looked like her on a professional tap stage. In their selections from “Pachuquísmo” look for something that feels like flamenco meets tap, hip-hop, and street theater, and then melds it all into performance art and poetry in service of social justice. It’s quite memorable.
Dancer/choreographer Rennie Harris has been called “The Basquiat of the US Contemporary dance scene” by the London Times. Rennie Harris Puremovement, his hip-hop dance troupe, is the first and longest running of its kind. For this appearance, the company shares three works: “A Day in the Life,” “Soul Maggot,” and “Black Promises.”
2020 hasn’t been the bubbliest year, but that’s no reason to end it on a flat note. From December 28 through January 3, tune in for an effervescent performance by men in tights, tutus and tiaras as the Trocks, or, more formally, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, perform their beloved production of Petipa’s “Paquita.” The Trocks, whose male dancers have taken on traditionally female roles for decades, combine absolute artistry with arch humor and have delighted audiences worldwide by combining en pointe parody and serious ballet. Laughter is encouraged but wild applause is the more common response to these irreverent, rebellious ballerinas.
All the previously noted JoyceStream offerings are free. For $12 per household, you can view the premiere of two new works from Pam Tanowitz Dance from December 12 through the 26th. Like so many things this year, the performance involves technology, Zoom, creativity and ingenuity.
If you’ve been getting your arts on a computer or phone for a while, consider purchasing a gadget that broadcasts to your television. The picture will be bigger, the sound will be better and everyone in your pod can share the arts, as The Joyce shares them with us. If you’re able to give back in any way, they’d love for you to do so.
2020 will be remembered for many things. Hopefully one of them will be a greater appreciation for the arts and artists we’ve missed so much and a renewing, healing renaissance of creativity to follow.