I have been imagining what it would be like to have been born one hundred years ago, to have lived through and experienced the innumerable changes in the world that have ranged in progress towards greater societal equality, advances in technology, and the ability of the human body to endure longer and longer. Based on where we are now, I know I will like—fingers crossed—living a long and vital life.
Longevity is certainly one of many vital factors that allow us the time to work on accomplishing life’s sometimes small dreams and often big desires. Having faith in our desires and directions would also seem to contribute to staying on track, especially given the challenges and obstacles that make up living a sustained and committed life.
In a recent conversation with choreographer Julia Adam, she mentioned that she possesses a dream to create a Jacob’s Pillow like space/festival on the West coast. As she talked, I got the chills, because this has also been a dream of mine. To create a place where a variety of dance ideas are housed and cherished for the next one hundred years, and beyond. Grand plans are a basic impulse in life and I am fortunate to hear many a ‘big-plan’ in the dance community. It thrills me to be part of the next generation’s creative longings.
In 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts, and much of today’s Marina District in San Francisco, was the site of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition [PPIE], which was attended by 18 million people, viewing a plethora of new ideas including a showcase for all of the high-tech innovations of that time. A centennial later, we continue the conversation about how society embraces the current technology boom impacting how our culture is valued, consumed and of course supported, or not.
You’ll be glad to know that dance and music was prominently featured, so it seems only fitting that the Rotunda Dance Series will play a role in celebrating the PPIE anniversary as the series launches on the actual anniversary, February 20, 2015. Over the year of Rotunda performances, Dancers’ Group and World Arts West have selected dance artists that continue to carry forward traditions that ultimately represent the wealth of dance forms and styles that we have today. Regular In Dance contributor, Rob Taylor provides additional insights into the history of the PPIE on page two.
Five years after the PPIE, Anna Halprin was born. As one of the many master artists living in the Bay Area and an artist that Dancers’ Group has worked with over the years, we were interested in paying homage to Anna, an artist whose body of work spans a seven-decade period of time—a good definition for longevity.
Shinichi Iova-Koga, the artistic director of inkBoat and a frequent collaborator and artistic associate of Anna’s, will be creating a new work that started out as a question from me to Shinichi: “Would you be interested in making 95 dances for Anna Halprin?” After a dramatic pause, Shinichi’s answer was yes. The piece will deal with the issues of legacy and preservation. Shinichi is interested in gathering 95 different scores, which he is soliciting from a wide range of artists, including one or more from Anna.
Over the next months, you will be reading more about 95 Rituals, including ways to participate in the project. Shinichi and Dancers’ Group want this work to be for Anna, to acknowledge her at her 95th birthday; a celebration of life. Shinichi has mentioned that love is central to this project, a love of what Anna stands for and for how she continues to influence the international dance community. I fancy that.
Each new year brings promise for the realization of imagined dreams; prepare to enjoy the beginnings that await, and cherish the work ahead.
This article appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of In Dance.