Text from my friend’s girlfriend: Dave!! The company I work for is having a benefit tomorrow and a showing, its 7 – 9pm , 25$ but drinks and food and music, cool peeps. I’m making XXXX come, but he would probably enjoy it better if you came hahah!! And there will dancer hot ladies!! Please say you’ll come!! :):):)
So… I went.
My buddy meets me and looks like a million bucks, which is cool, and I’m not dressed as nice, but nice enough. We sprint to get there by 7:00, find the building, and once inside are told directions by a stunning woman in an otherwise blah lobby, and take the elevator up to a high floor, where we get out in a non-descript hallway, make a few turns, and find more stunning / sexy / pierced / cleverly shaved and fit people sitting in a hall, and we then proceed to wait.
After some time the door opens on to the physical headquarters of Sidra Bell Dance New York, and we enter.
I use the words physical headquarters because Dance can truly transcend a space, and over the course of the evening, I would learn how powerful and intense the company is, which wasn’t immediately apparent, as the door opened into a dance studio with a DJ and speakers, a stage positioned 20” high off the ground, and a table set up with wine, crudité, and a raffle.
Ever the supporter of the arts I partake in the crudité and raffle tickets. For $20 I purchase 12 tickets. The tickets are for 4 different categories, and range from a $50 iTunes gift card to illustrations of the dancers, tickets for future performances, and Knicks tickets (for next year, obviously.) I spread my action over all 4 categories. This was a useful strategy which yielded a good ROI, because while there was only 1 Knicks ticket gift available, there were a lot of $50 iTunes Gift Cards, and so I actually won! (The End)
Continued – Anyway, before my victory, the company presented the first of three dance showcases. Look, I am not going to pretend to be a dance critic. I am going to share what I saw.
The Sidra Bell Company is made up of four dancers, and the highly lauded Artistic Director Bell is supported in her organization by a team including a vibrant Board, a sophisticated General Manager, and a team of support staff who are obviously creative, and function as the glue. Before the first of the dances, they were also “on stage,” metaphorically. Our hosts were mingling, sharing, and making us feel welcomed. A projector looped performances on a wall, and the mood was very inviting.
Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Associate Artistic Director Alexandra Johnson, & Rebecca Margolick are the performers. These are four human beings who do something they may call dance. For me, it was not so much a performance as it is also an intimate experience. Each of these unique creatures brings a wisdom and vivaciousness that lets the viewer know without doubt they are in the presence of a master.
The first number is incredibly sharp, as the company uses their 4 elements in a sequence of solos, building as multiple routines are happening in a way that the eye has to focus on one or two of the dancers, as you can’t see all 4 at one time, and they are almost acting out an homage to a rave, or a club scene, and on the way, sophomoric and light moments are punctuated by powerful vibrant moments. The motions are sexy. Powerful break dance themed moves yield to slower more tense movements, and the performers are owning the space. On the faces of the performers that are just a few feet away are expressions that is method acting at its height. The dancers aren’t trying to dance to the music, they are so focused it feels as if their focus and movement creates the accompanying bass beats and snares. And then, the last passage of the opening performance, culminates when the faux rave devolves into a dance circle, and Margolick does a routine that is completely campy and silly, and is laughing at herself, and the effect is to illuminate the divide between the hobby of dancing and the art form.
I can’t really do justice to describing the dance numbers, and frankly, they don’t need to be described, they need to be witnessed. What I would say though, unequivocally, is that the leadership is clearly pushing the envelope, the dancers are more than talented performers, they are iconic, and that the organization is in a strong place.
The last takeaway I had as the evening went on and I met many friends of the company, was the bonds and energy and work ethic that so clearly laid the foundation for this work. All of us have jobs or responsibilities, and the power of the commitment these people had, their mutual acceptance, complex self-conscious creations, and ability to be in synch inspired me not only as a spectator, but also as a businessman as it was really a great illustration of what corporations everywhere are striving to achieve.