as misty copeland and matthew prescott finished their performance of "falling" --choreographed by mr. prescott himself--at tonight's DRA benefit, my sister leaned toward me and whispered, "she is a gorgeous dancer."
impossible to disagree. (honestly, we could have been talking about her legs alone. amazing.)
when you have an opportunity to see her dance up close, as we could at the cedar lake theater, you'll notice she's even lighter, her muscles more precise than in any photos you'll see online. the gentle hyperextension in her knees deepens the drama of her leg action. but the extension through her whole upper body is just as exquisite. she doesn't do "bravado" or big ballet gestures (to be fair, the choreography didn't call for it, but still)...she just entrances you.
there are no high-quality, extended videos of "falling" (though there was a video crew at tonight's performance, so perhaps in the coming weeks, the dra will post one) but if you'd like to see a very short clip, start at the :22...
on saturday evening, i decided to attend the event that would mark the close of maurizio cattelan's show at the guggenheim -- and celebrate his retirement. i didn't know much about him or his art, but the 7-hour finale, with over 30 speakers from various disciplines-- visual art, literature, film, music, economics, politics, religion, dance, theater, sports, and fashion--seemed like a good opportunity to get enlightened. (i really only cared that george vecsey, a trusted--and missed--voice from the ny times sports pages, was going to be there. if there was any reason that mr. cattelan should resonate with me, mr. vecsey would make me aware.)
i braved the damp cold and a line that wound from the fifth avenue entrance, around the corner and down the length of 89th street to madison avenue--at least that's where my wait started. the waiting and the weather made the first steps into the rotunda exhilarating -- and the first sight of the suspended art (horses, pinocchio)--even moreso. everyone was snap-happy.
i took my time, walking the ramps around the exhibit.
what can i say about the art? meh. i wasn't particularly moved. as a whole, or taken as separate pieces, the work is...sensational. but i didn't feel excited or inspired to know whatever story or joke or intent drove their creation. there were mini-figurines and massive taxidermy specimens, funny photos, "z"s and bones and boobs, and a pope felled by a meteor. i liked the olive tree and the big block of soil that it "grew" on. there were many football references, too (it became easy to figure what mr. vecsey would comment on, so in the end, i didn't feel the need to stay for his talk.) let's just say, i saw "all" and that was enough.
i did enjoy being there though. one of the things i love about the guggenheim is the simple expansiveness of it--the distance and airiness from one side of the rotunda to the other. but having artwork hanging from the middle meant that instead of everyone facing away from the center, we all gathered around it. it gave a much different perspective on the experience, as well as the art. the vibe was buzzier too, i don't know if it was the saturday night/pay what you wish admission or if it was the weirdness of the art that inspired it, but it was almost like your parents went away for the weekend--woo hoo--and you could have the whole house to yourself (and 500 hundred or so friends), feet up on the good couch, watching tv upside down. that we were all allowed to take pictures (which is generally verboten, unlike at the MET) made a difference for everyone, i think. anyway, i liked seeing people wanting to capture their experience for themselves, or to share.
on a day when i was assigned to find "light and shadow" the sky was perfectly...grey.
i didn't get too many good photos, but the day inspired a couple of memorable encounters:
i asked permission to take his photo ("sign" language, as he was on the phone).
i wish i'd thought to get his whole outfit, but i was so fixated on his face, his hood.
and then he flashed me that sign, with his funky-tipped gloves.
there was a single moment that afternoon when the sun burst through the clouds and created exactly the kind of dramatic shadow i needed to work with. i noticed a woman, directly across the street from me, sitting almost regally with her fur-trimmed coat, her legs crossed at the ankles, on the thick concrete slabs that create some roaming space for pedestrians around madison square park. she looked relaxed--and i hesitated to disturb her--but wanted to make a photo of her. so i made a gentle ask...
it turned out she didn't speak english. so we exchanged signs, i pointed at the camera, and she consented, with a nod. but by then the sun was gone.
still, i wanted a photo of her, but asked her to turn her head so i could get her strong profile. i pointed in the direction i wanted her to look. she stood up and walked that way. we were both confused, but had a nice laugh afterwards. (how funny that she would even think to take that kind of direction from me so willingly, yes?) she liked the photos, but the expression on her face in this one, as she's walking away from me, is my favorite.