Monday, January 18, 2016

A New York State of Mind

So, I promised that we'd blog from the APAP conference and quickly realized that would be a difficult promise to keep.  The conference is so busy and the schedule so tight that there just hasn't been a free moment to collect thoughts in this format.  So, in lieu of live updates from the conference, in future posts, members of the PA delegation will share their reflections on the conference. I'm really looking forward to hearing from the students and faculty who attended the conference after they've had a little time to process the experience.

ODC Dance Company
I am still in NY and will be here one more day.  Thus far, I've seen the work of over 30 artists.  On Saturday alone, I saw showcases by 13 dance companies with PA dance student Julia Sylvain, class of 2018.  We spent most of the daylight hours on Saturday at New York City Center in one of two large studio spaces.  That evening, we went to see three more companies perform at Alvin Ailey Studios.  We saw such dynamic work and I was really proud that Julia was able to get this tremendous opportunity to see so much dance in person.  I joked with her that now she could claim to be more informed about the current dance scene than our dance educator Trish Harms (a joke Ms. Harms likely wouldn't find too funny).

Julia Sylvain '18 and Brittany Cadoza '17 
Between long stretches filled with dance, the entire PA delegation attended the matinee performance of the Tony award-winning play The Curious Incident of  the Dog in the Nighttime.  I had seen the show when I attended the conference last January and knew that it was a piece that would be wonderful to share with other members of the PA community.  The play is based on the novel by Mark Haddon and chronicles the adventures of a young boy with Asperger's syndrome who sets out on an adventure to determine who killed his neighbor's dog.  The show (and book) is told in the first person from Christopher's point of view and the production features incredible technical elements that serve to provide a glimpse into just how overwhelming the world can be for Christopher.  What I love about the show is that even with all its high tech effects, so much of the storytelling in the piece is accomplished through very intimate moments that are low or no tech.  It's a beautiful play and well worth seeing.  Following the performance we all went to an early dinner and spent a few minutes discussing the show.  I was surprised to learn that this was the first non-musical play that either of the students had ever attended.  What a first play! And, what a confirmation of the importance of this trip.

The weekend was full of so many great moments and wonderful opportunities to preview the work of companies from all over the world.  I look forward to hearing the reflections of the other members of the delegation.  I am so happy to be a part of an organization that truly values experiences such as this and I am confident that the long-term ramifications of this experience will reverberate across our campus for many years to come.  As I wrap up my time in NY, the real work will start with weeks worth of phone calls and contract negotiations ultimately resulting in a season of events that we'll be able to share with you by sometime this summer.  Based on the work we've already done at this conference, I know that we will have another wonderful season.

Matt Cahoon, Director of Cultural Programming
Jody Sperling Dance Company at New York City Center

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