Every student of dance history can expect to learn about the creation of Judson Dance Theater at some point in their education. JDT was comprised of a collection of dancers who studied under Robert Ellis Dunn in the early 60’s, and whose experimentation with pedestrian movement concepts caused huge paradigm shifts within the dance world. Never before had Western dance forms been so open and undefined. Judson Church, the place, was the group’s chosen venue for their premiere performance, and in turn became a major hub for other influential Post Modern artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
This past summer I felt butterflies in my stomach when we began discussing the possibility of performing at this historic venue with Summation Dance. Judson has always been on my “Top Three Venues for Performing” list, so when we received confirmation for our show dates I knew this would be one for the record books.
In the spirit of our Post Modern ancestors, Summation Dance invited three amazing artists – Andrea Miller, Kendra Potier, and Peter Kyle – to present work in a program geared towards educating the audience about dance and the process of creating dance. This program was called the Dancing Literate Project.
While we rehearsed in the church, I admired it’s vastness, but honestly did not feel as I had expected. I thought I would be struck by the famed Church and all its history, feeling the buzz of dance ancestors past and all that jazz. It wasn’t until I walked into the space on Thursday evening that I felt this excitement. Summation’s dancers, all bundled in sweats and socks, were stretching while Peter Kyle’s dancers stomped out rhythms and Kendra Portier flitted around downstage.
Suddenly, with the seats placed and awaiting the audience, I strangely felt our mark on the dance timeline. Summation Dance and the other artists in the show are a small but significant dot on the path that was laid out by JDT in July, 1962. We are a continuation of their doctrine.
Fostering that creativity and collaborative opportunities are a couple aims of the Dancing Literate Project. It was an irreplaceable experience: I performed the work of two choreographers I greatly respect, and shared the night with people that I admire as creators and performers.
During the after show “talk back sessions”, we heard from dance celebrities Deborah Jowitt, Patricia Beaman, and Gus Solomons Jr. about the history of JDT and how they ended up at Judson Church. I knew this performance would mark one of the highest points in my own little history. This is why I think Judson Church was the best possible place for the Dancing Literate Project!
**Thank you to everyone who made this show possible!!**