PREVIEW: Sidra Bell Dance New York at Baruch Performing Arts Center
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]idra Bell Dance New York is thick in preparation for the opening of their New York Season next week at Baruch Performing Arts Center. The season’s works together are entitled Duel consisting of two evening length works to be presented for two consecutive weeks between March 22 and April 1.
When I visited the company’s New York Live Arts rehearsal, there was a clear collaborative atmosphere as the dancers fiddled with costumes and discussed them with Bell and costume designer Erin Schultz. Collaboration plays a role in Bell’s work from start to finish with both dancers and designers. “I enjoy creating worlds onstage. The lighting, the costuming, all play in from the beginning of the process,” Bell explained.
“I work mainly collaboratively with the dancers. As an artist I really love movement, so I start with phrase work. I give defined, very architectural phrases to them. From there we work, pull it apart, and use improvisational tasks to sort it, elaborate, and create characters.”
This characterization of Bell’s dancers shown through as I watched portions of Stella, the first of the two works to be presented. Audiences will have the unique opportunity to view this work from three sides and dive into detail and clearly defined relationships – with each other, with the space, with the music, and with the second work of their season, ReVUE.
“These two pieces are conversational in that they both explore public and private space,” Bell said. “It’s questioning the act of performance, testing the limits of audience interaction.”
Bell’s enthusiasm for both process and performance is clear as she speaks about working with the company’s artists. But Bell’s choreographic career is not limited to her work in New York. Bell has won esteemed choreographic awards both in the United States and internationally as well as had commissions for the Juilliard School, Ballet Austin, and the Sacramento Ballet to name a few. “With my own company, there’s a sense of deep exploration and the language is very rich. But when I visit somewhere else, it’s like a blank slate. You take what you know but also meet in the middle, and it’s a great balance for me in my career having both.”
This balance will be mirrored for audiences in a performance that explores both bold theatrics and intimate invasions of the individual. The New York native describes the city as a large influence and inspiration for her as an artist. “There’s a feeling of it’s a big deal, but also it feels very comfortable. It feels like the work belongs here.”
Sidra Bell Dance New York will run Program A: Stella from March 22-24th at 8PM and March 25th at 7 PM. Program B: ReVUE will run from March 29th-31st at 8PM and April 1 at 7 PM. For tickets visit: www.baruch.cuny.bpac.