SILVER AND SUEDE: HALSTON AT THE ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM

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While in Pittsburgh, I was thrilled to catch Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede at the Warhol museum. As an ardent admirer of both Halston and Warhol, this exhibit seemed to be curated just for me!

The press release:

The exhibition examines the interconnected lives and creative practices of Andy Warhol and Halston – two American icons who had a profound impact on the development of 20th century art and fashion.  Organized by The Andy Warhol Museum and Lesley Frowick (the niece of Halston), the exhibition integrates Halston’s garments and accessories with photography, video and paintings by Warhol.

Not only did Halston collect Warhol’s artwork, which he displayed in his 63rd Street Manhattan townhouse and Montauk retreat rented from Warhol, but Halston was also portrayed in several of Warhol’s artworks.  In 1979, Warhol dedicated a chapter of his book, Andy Warhol’s Exposures, to Halston, describing him as the ‘first All-American fashion designer.’

The exhibition will include approximately 40 of Halston’s creations including an iconic pillbox hat designed for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1961, and his signature Ultrasuede shirtdress, juxtaposed with Warhol’s paintings, photographs, and videos.  It will also feature archival material and ephemera from the archives of The Warhol and the personal collection of Lesley Frowick relating to the two artists’ practices

A beautifully rendered timeline documenting the lives and careers of Halston and Warhol illuminates striking parallels between to the two artists. Both men worked in fashion early in their careers (hat design for Halston, illustration for Warhol), became wildly successful in New York, and went on to international acclaim. As American artists, both underwent a type of transformation and evolved to exist in a unique atmosphere at the nexus of art and celebrity.

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By the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s both men were no longer people, but seemed to exist as visual “personas”, Warhol as the eccentric artist with a shock of white hair (widely known to be a wig) and camera permanently in hand, and Halston as the sophisticated designer in black turtleneck and mirrored sunglasses forever surrounded by a flurry of models. This exhibit strips away many cliches that the passage of time has added to and hardened regarding these men.

Both artists became as famous for their words as their work:

Warhol:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.

Halston:

I think everybody should have furs, jewels, and Andy Warhol paintings.

That both Halston and Warhol discovered high/low cultural connections in various facets of their work also radiates throughout this exhibit. Warhol took everyday objects like soup cans and images of celebrities and transformed them into colorful larger-than-life renderings. Halston took the glamour of his design work to everything from fragrance, carpets, the girl scouts and JC Penney. While the latter ultimately led to Halston’s demise as a business, today fashion has a very symbiotic relationship with mass-retail as demonstrated by Philip Lim for Target,  Alexander Wang for H&M, and even Nicki Minaj for Kmart.

Other highlights of this exhibit include mounted ipads in which one can swipe through unseen Halston sketches for celebrity clients (including Martha Graham), Warhol’s original prints for (and of ) Halston, and rare photographs of Halston at Warhol’s Montauk home.

I salute and revere these two American artists!

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CATS at PCLO JULY 2014

CATS PCLO

The moments of happiness

We had the experience but missed the meaning
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness

The past experience revived in the meaning
Is not the experience of one life only
But of many generations
Not forgetting something that is probably quite ineffable

Working on CATS at Pittsburgh CLO was a fantastic experience. I always love assisting on this piece as well as working with the friends I have made through this work over the last ten years. PCLO provides a first-rate rehearsal experience with excellent resources and support to facilitate the brief period in which to put the show together. The cast was an excellent blend of seasoned professionals and first-timers and I loved seeing the veterans help out the rookies and guiding them through with generosity. Under the expert eye of Richard Stafford, the company blossomed into an elegant and vibrant embodiment of this unique piece.

Walking into the colossal Benedum, one is impressed by the ornate architecture and theatrical history in the air. A theatre is a special place where glory and triumph of the past as well as the thrill and anticipation of what’s to come once the house dims haunt the mind. The opening night of Cats was beautiful, punctuated with frequent bursts of applause from the audience during more virtuosic episodes of dancing as well as Elizabeth Stanley’s sublime interpretation of Memory.

Hearing the venerable Ken Prymus sing the above lyrics from The Moments of Happiness floats the heart and mind into a reflective state. I’m grateful to Richard Stafford for the opportunity to revisit this wonderful piece. It was a joy to be in the rehearsal studio again demonstrating, teaching, and dancing with friends old and new.

Link

AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL: JUNE JULY/2014

 

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It was so exciting to be at the American Dance Festival!  As a lover of dance and lover of learning, this place is pure bliss. From June 20-July 8, I studied as part of the Dance Professionals Workshop and an additional period of independent study. I appreciated the variety and scope of the faculty, the unfettered energy of the student body, the insightful films and discussions, beautiful repertory showings, and first-rate performances by visiting companies.

I tried to take at least one class with as many of the ADF faculty as I could and made it to Anjali Austin, Rodger Belman, Elizabeth Corbett, Teena Marie Custer, Brenda Daniels, Marjani Forte,Mark Haim, Ellen Hemphill, Gerri Houlihan, T. Lang, Nicholas Leichter, Nia Love, Jennifer Nugent, Kate Skarpetowska, James Sutton, Tom Weinberger, and Jesse Zaritt. Each teacher held their own unique frame of reference regarding movement. I loved the varied experiences each teacher created for us, resulting in a veritable panorama of dance theories and practices. These master teachers all share an outstanding dedication and passion to dance.

My schedule allowed me to spend a great deal of time in Nia Love’s wonderful modern class, in which I loved learning some fundamental Pan-African movement patterns. Nia is an elegant and joyful teacher, extremely clear in her sharing of dance forms from Ghana and Mali. I enjoyed her class structure, which begins with traveling across the floor and evolves into a longer phrase.

I also dedicated some time to Ellen Hemphill’s voice and gesture class, which I absolutely adored. I love how Ellen connects the voice to the body so powerfully. Ellen’s attention to nuance, truth and detail is revelatory. Ellen also taught my group some beautiful songs, which we loved to sing.

Gerri Houlihan’s class was another favorite of mine. A master teacher, her unique style blends elements of Jose Limon (whom she studied with at Juilliard) and Lar Lubovitch (whom she danced for) into what is lovingly called “flow and glow”! Gerri’s brilliant class structure and expertly crafted movement phrases are so challenging and satisfying to the body. I loved connecting breath to movement and feeling the weight of my limbs falling and floating in space. I can’t wait to take her class again someday!

Kate Skarpetowska’s class had a similar feeling to Gerri’s for me. I loved the class structure and the movement phrases, I hope to be able to study with her again. I admire her artistry and teaching.

I could probably write a page about each teacher I took class with, but the above four are the instructors I was able to spend the most time in class with at ADF.

Performances I attended included Ballet Hispanico, Pilobolus, Ishmael Houston-Jones/Emily Wexler, Adele Myers and Dancers, Cedar Lake Ballet, and John Jasperse. Each performance was outstanding. Particular highlights for me were Rosie Herrera’s thoughtful, fun, and beautiful Show.Girl for Ballet Hispanico, Pilobulus’s sensual and daring On the Nature of Things, Ishamael Houston-Jones’ dancing to You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling in haunting shadow, seeing Raphaelle Kessedjian dancing on the edge in Adele Myers new work The Dancing Room, Crystal Pite’s gorgeously aching Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue for Cedar Lake Ballet, and the mind-bending Within Between by the virtuosic John Jasperse dancers.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what the followings things mean: dance, performance, dance technique, american dance, form, function, dance history, audience, the future of dance, and so many other things. As an experience, ADF posed questions which sparked conversation, exploration, and further investigation in my mind. This was so rewarding and exciting. It was thrilling to be in a place where dance was so vital, and to take part in a celebration of movement.