Claudia La Rocco

  • performance March 24, 2015

    Construction Sites

    Silly Writer Construct:

    See two plays, one written by a woman and directed by a man, the other vice versa. Discuss within larger context of progressive New York performance.

    Shows in Question:

    Social Security, at the Bushwick Starr, written by Christina Masciotti and directed by Paul Lazar, performed by Elizabeth DeMent, Cynthia Hopkins, and T. Ryder Smith

    Running Away From the One With the Knife, at the Chocolate Factory, written by Aaron Landsman and directed by Mallory Catlett, performed by Kate Benson, Juliana Francis Kelly, and James Himmelsbach

    Post-Performance Reality (aka Mostly Non-Construct

  • performance January 29, 2015

    Notes to Self

    I’VE JUST DELETED the three hundred words I’d written to start this month’s column, which covers a fraction of the myriad festivals, showings, showcases, etc. mushrooming up around the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York.

    There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with these words, which talked about the “show-must-go-on New York performance crisis” and how exhausted and overwhelmed everyone is by the whole magnificently underfunded circus. The system is distressingly fucked, has been for years.

    It’s just that, well, I wrote about these same exact things in 2012

  • performance December 17, 2014

    Jail Bait

    ANN LIV YOUNG had been in jail for about two hours when I got to Jack. She didn’t seem especially unhappy about it. She seemed, in fact, and no surprise, like she had the upper hand—for example, she had a chair, more than was provided to anyone who had paid fifteen dollars to come look at the performance art incarceration spectacle that was set to unfold over the next few nights at the interdisciplinary Brooklyn space. I mean, her wig was slightly askew. But when isn’t it?

    When I returned three nights later, the scene was much the same, with two key differences: The rickety cell constructed within

  • performance December 12, 2014

    Roundabout Way

    I’M ON A PLANE from Seattle to San Francisco. A little plane, tilting fiercely the way little planes do high up here in the dark clouds. It’s Monday night, 6:29 to be precise. I have just spent the weekend watching four dances by Tere O’Connor: The large ensemble work BLEED, which enfolds and explodes elements from the three smaller dances Secret Mary, Poem, and Sister.

    So many bodies cast into and about space. Pleasures of full movement, both simple and ornate. Collisions of virtuosity, formalism, technique, rigmarole, the pedestrian, the absurd. All the little cruelties we casually gift to

  • performance October 31, 2014

    Freddie Mercury

    I’M NOT SURE HOW MUCH I learned about Fred Herko during “Fred Herko: A Crash Course,” a four-hour-plus symposium organized by Joshua Lubin-Levy and presented Saturday afternoon by NYU’s performance studies department and a bunch of other august orgs.

    This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I mean, we were fed well, for starters, and anytime anyone is showing Andy Warhol films, life is good. More on those later, but the above paragraph is to say that there is a lot of misinformation and mythology out there on our dear Freddie, and people really, really, really like talking about both.

    This

  • performance October 22, 2014

    Wendy City

    1.

    WENDY WHELAN is twenty-two minutes late for her thirty-minute rehearsal with fellow New York City Ballet principal Robert Fairchild, who had been preparing to head out but now, smart man, quickly slips off his street shoes and gets back into studio gear.

    “Sorry!” Whelan mouths, her face making an exaggerated smile-cringe as she rushes to put on her own pointe shoes. Apparently she thought the rehearsal began a half hour later than it did.

    Somehow this isn’t even remotely obnoxious. If anybody is thinking irritable thoughts, they’re well hidden. (As one of the company’s publicists says to me as

  • performance October 03, 2014

    When Life Hands You Lemon

    THERE WAS THIS MOMENT, when April Matthis was lying on the floor of the Walker Art Center’s Burnet Gallery, scream-shouting in virtuosic fashion, her red clothes and brown skin and black hair vibrant against the waiting-room-of-god–like white room, when all I could think about was Bina48.

    Matthis, with Okwui Okpokwasili, makes up the absurdly brilliant live cast of Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room, which had its premiere at the Walker this past week.

    Bina48 is the AI robot modeled after Bina Rothblatt, as profiled in a recent, engrossing New York article on the real Bina’s partner, the transgender

  • performance August 27, 2014

    Time and Again

    YOU ALL KNOW THE DRILL: It’s fall. There are things happening.

    Here are just a few of them, as filtered through a sensibility that may in no way be compatible with your own:

    1. The inimitable ballerina Wendy Whelan is giving her farewell New York City Ballet performance on October 18, ending an astonishingly fertile thirty-year run that has included collaborations with just about every ballet choreographer of note, and performances of breathtaking command and finesse. Say you were inclined to commit some sort of semi-serious crime to get a ticket to a show this fall—this is the one. Otherwise,

  • performance August 18, 2014

    Lunch Break

    Last week, I had lunch with Anna Halprin. On her deck, in a little screened in gazebo, surrounded by a cathedral-like cluster of redwoods. She made a really good salad, which I ate more of than she did.

    The hillside around us was buzzing with insect and bird life. The water pitcher was cool to the touch. Her hands, it should go without saying, were amazing, thick with ropey wrinkles, tanned and strong. She wore two gold wedding bands on her left hand, one on her middle finger—I didn’t ask, but I assume, that the larger one belonged to her late husband, the architect Lawrence Halprin.

    I want to

  • performance June 27, 2014

    Talking About My Generation

    I DON’T CARE how long Jennifer Lacey has been an American in Paris. She’ll always be a New York dancer to me. Something about her combination of a fiercely casual physical precision (what, this old thing?) and a conceptual poetics—or is it a poetic conceptualism?—as survival mechanism... it’s perfection.

    Really I could just say that New York dancers are the best thing I can think of and leave it at that (Maggie Cloud, Simon Courchel, Burr Johnson, and especially Stuart Singer in John Jasperse’s Within Between at New York Live Arts, for example, or all of New York City Ballet in this past season’s

  • performance May 11, 2014

    Danse the Night Away

    YOU SAY “DANSE,” and I say “dance.”

    Let’s call the whole thing off.

    Or, no, wait, let’s throw a big old festival, eighteen days of French performance, so that we can socialize and skirmish and generally make merry at arts institutions big and small across the great metropolis of New York. Vive la schmoozing! Vive la la!

    I logged three shows and one panel extravaganza during the first four days of “Danse: A French-American Festival of Performance & Ideas,” organized by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. I wanted to see a fourth show, but I never was able to figure out (dumb American) the

  • performance May 02, 2014

    Straight Acting

    “THE DIFFERENCE between theater and performance is that she would have actually penetrated Tony.”

    Such was artist Kenneth Collins’s observation to me while we were watching Ubu Sings Ubu at Abrons Arts Center last week—specifically, while we were watching Julie Atlas Muz fake ass fuck Tony Torn with, if memory serves, a sausage dildo, as they portrayed Ma and Pa Ubu in Torn’s musical adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s fin de siècle rampage of a play Ubu Roi.

    On the one hand, Collins was rolling his eyes at the tediously erroneous visual art tenet that, you know, theater is theatrical and performance

  • performance April 11, 2014

    When the Spirit Moves You

    A FEW YEARS AGO, I wrote a review of New York City Ballet in which I talked about Balanchine’s great works as “museum pieces.” To me this wasn’t denigrating, merely stating fact—and so I was rather taken aback when, a couple of days later, I found myself again at City Ballet getting my tickets, and an older critic came rushing up behind me, screeching, “Don’t let her in! She hates Balanchine!”

    I thought about this Tuesday night at New York Live Arts, during a performance by the Trisha Brown Dance Company that included reconstructions of her Son of Gone Fishin’, 1981, and Solo Olos, 1976. It felt

  • performance March 24, 2014

    Master Narratives

    LANCE GRIES, Diane Madden, Juliette Mapp, Jimena Paz; Wally Cardona, Jennifer Lacey, Silas Riener; Christiana Axelsen, Jennifer Lafferty, Heather Lang, Marilyn Maywald, Kayvon Pourazar, Stuart Singer:

    Let us now praise New York dancers.

    It’s astonishing to think that one could see all of these artists in the span of a mere weekend, and just three shows: IF Immanent Field by Gries at Danspace Project, The Set Up by Cardona and Lacey at the Park Avenue Armory, and Beth Gill’s New Work for the Desert at New York Live Arts. The sheer amount of performance talent in this city—well, it’s ridiculous.

  • performance February 05, 2014

    Four on the Floor

    I saw Sarah Michelson’s 4 on Saturday, February 1 at 2 PM. This is some of what happened to me, while sitting for one hundred minutes on half of a round, backless cushion on the fourth floor of the Whitney Museum of American Art. It’s not so comfortable, to sit like that.

    The audience arrives in tiers. Everyone walks across the raised and painted Masonite stage. There is no “offstage.” Barbara Bryan, Michelson’s manager, walks around in white jeans, converse, a sweatshirt tagged with SM’s familiar portrait, holding a walkie-talkie.

    We face the elevators. There are the guards. The dancers’ silent

  • performance January 17, 2014

    APAP Smear

    ONE.

    “We began to engage in a strange duel of asceticism,” Edgar Oliver explained, if that’s the word, during Helen & Edgar, his monologue about growing up in Savannah, Georgia, with his sister and mother. If only. This show, part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar festival, was the single best hour I spent during the orgy of excess at APAP, the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ conference.

    Twelve performances, five production meetings, three showings, two conferences, one studio visit, and various miscellaneous networking and social happenings, concentrated in Manhattan with

  • performance December 26, 2013

    Claudia La Rocco

    WHAT TO SAY ABOUT THESE LISTS.

    They’re weird; I think we can all acknowledge that.

    As well as wildly spotty and biased and unscientific (in the artistic sense). One of their (my) problems is that they don’t take into account all of the shows the people (me) writing these lists didn’t see—you know, like Jon Kinzel’s Someone Once Called Me a Sound Man, which happened at the Chocolate Factory Theater earlier this month and, according to everything everyone smart said, was one of the best things to have hit a New York stage in ages. Didn’t see it, dunno, can’t comment, etc. And yet. Yes. Let’s put it

  • performance November 13, 2013

    You Don’t Know Squat

    “HERE WE GO,” someone in the crowd, I’m almost positive it was The Unidentified Flying Dancer, said with an anticipatory sigh that seemed born of long experience, maybe? Batten down the hatches.

    The UFD (aka Sheryl Sutton), issued her warning on a recent Wednesday night at Electronic Arts Intermix, as a conversation between two former members of the Hungarian-born collective Squat Theatre, long since disbanded, staggered to a halt:

    Anna Koos: “It’s my opinion, let me have my opinion.”

    Eva Buchmuller: “But I can argue.”

    Koos, Buchmuller, and Sutton (a Squat collaborator) had gathered for a screening

  • performance October 31, 2013

    Conflict Resolution

    LAST YEAR, when MoMA launched its Some sweet day dance series curated by the choreographer Ralph Lemon, there was a lot of talk about the impossibility of the atrium space as a site for any art, let alone a body-based one, and about the fraught tensions between these two art-world cultures.

    But, really, what were we all thinking?

    That was my thought on Sunday afternoon, when I spent a little more than two hours watching Levée des conflits extended (Suspension of Conflicts Extended) by the French choreographer Boris Charmatz. The work, from 2010, comprises twenty-five gestures performed by twenty-four

  • performance September 23, 2013

    Dig Your Own Hole

    “WHO DIED?” the kid stood on the sidewalk on Metropolitan Avenue, just off Berry Street in Williamsburg, staring in through the raised garage door.

    Outside was a funeral announcement. Inside were such things as: a table of booze; a mound of dirt sunk into a coffin-shaped cutout in the floor; and a man in a smart black hat, veil, and plunge-neck, slit-to-the-thigh dress that showed off an awful lot of body hair.

    “The real estate,” replied the man, one Eric Dyer.

    The kid, maybe in his mid-20s, nodded and craned his neck a little further. “Looks like it was pretty nice.”

    Dyer nodded, too, his eyes