Claudia La Rocco

  • performance September 01, 2013

    Fall to Pieces

    LET’S START WITH THE DISCLAIMER: This isn’t an exhaustive or even an exhaustively researched fall performance rundown. It is, rather, a somewhat random cross-selection of artists, events, and theaters that, whether for excitement, track record, or sheer train-wreck potential, will get me out of the house in the coming months, even after the inevitable New York fall arts stampede has made roadkill of us all.

    “Rituals of Rented Island: Object Theater, Loft Performance, and the New Psychodrama—Manhattan, 1970–1980,” opening October 31 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

    Historical performance

  • slant August 06, 2013

    Fail Safe

    “IT’S LIKE YOU’RE DEEP-SEA DIVING. It feels like a transformation that is urgent and necessary—even if it is exhausting.”

    Moira Brennan said this to me the Thursday before last at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, as we were settling into the first full day of presentations at the Creative Capital Artist Retreat at Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass. Retreat is something of a misnomer in its implication of relaxation; this year’s event, the foundation’s ninth, featured forty eight new projects from the performing arts, literature, and emerging fields, as well as recent grantees

  • performance June 08, 2013

    Home Is Where the Heart Is

    SOMETIMES A WHOLE THEATER leans forward and up, like a great set of hands is gathering the audience, and lifting. I don’t know anything else like it. The triumphant roar of the crowd at a baseball game comes close, but that surge is physical, whereas this is energetically felt, at once communal and deeply internal.

    When such electricity sweeps through a big, storied house, it is amplified, given power and speed. This has been my experience at the New York State Theater (permit me, in this context, to not call it the David H. Koch Theater) during the three ballets Alexei Ratmansky has choreographed

  • performance May 26, 2013

    Love or Money

    SPRING IS HIGH GALA SEASON IN NEW YORK. So many parties, so many drinks, so many conversations, so many of them about money. Getting it, giving it, never having enough of it.

    This quote just about sums it up: “I want you to look at this art and think about need.”

    That’s Ain Gordon, the writer, director, and actor, speaking at the Danspace Project gala, which he was emceeing. The art in question was static art, to be auctioned off in support of the theater. Among the works was a Marina Abramović portrait: “You could sell it tomorrow, let’s think clearly people,” a naked Lucy Sexton, fresh off a

  • performance May 07, 2013

    Once Upon a Time

    “THE PROBLEM WITH SCIENCE is all facts are manipulated.”

    The woman was talking to her friend in Kaffismiðja Íslands, a small, homespun café in Reykjavik. Good lattes and buttery croissants. The woman was Scottish, I think. Let’s just say definitely, and she was making a point about Margaret Thatcher—speaking ill of the dead, though respectfully, if one can be said to speak ill of the dead respectfully.

    The problem with science is the pleasure with art.

    This year’s Sequences VI, a “real-time art festival,” was ten days long, a day for every year that Gretar Reynisson, the festival’s honorary artist,

  • performance March 28, 2013

    Research and Development

    Critic and poet Claudia La Rocco recently chatted with the celebrated American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet dancer David Hallberg in Chelsea. They talked about his dual lives in New York and Moscow, what it means to be an intellectually curious ballet dancer in 2013, and his long self-education in contemporary art, including a for-now shelved collaboration with the French choreographer Jérôme Bel.

    Claudia La Rocco: When did you start seeing contemporary dance, and what got you interested?

    David Hallberg: It started when I was at Paris Opera School in 2000. I saw the company perform whenever

  • performance February 14, 2013

    East of Eden

    Critic and writer Claudia La Rocco recently caught up with the pioneering performance art journalist Cynthia Carr in SoHo. They talked about her latest book, Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz (Bloomsbury, 2012), and her time spent writing for the Village Voice during a period that spanned the culture wars, the AIDS crisis, and the fabled East Village art scene.

    Claudia La Rocco: So many things changed for me as a writer when I found you and Jill Johnston; your books were incredible guides to me. Was there anyone like that for you?

    Cynthia Carr: Well, Jill Johnston definitely.

  • performance February 08, 2013

    Everyday People

    BRILLIANT,” the man behind me at the Kitchen exhaled, to himself and his date and anybody else within earshot on this particular Sunday afternoon, during the final performance of Claude Wampler’s N’a pas un gramme de charisme. (Not an ounce of charisma.).

    It was spoken in that reverent, self-satisfied stage whisper, where it’s always ambiguous as to whether the person is speaking about the art, or himself for perceiving the art, or some combination of the two. And lo. Just then the woman onstage—well, technically on the risers where the audience typically sits but which in this case formed the

  • diary November 04, 2012

    Candid Bergen

    AUDIENCE MEMBERS napping on bunk beds; interpretive dancers and musicians in fanciful costumes and face paint; a relentlessly humble anti-capitalist affair as would warm Dave Hickey’s heart. You might guess this was some serious baby boomer performance art happening at Theater for the New City. But no: agit-prop hippie art is alive and well in Bergen, Norway, at BIT Teatergarasjen’s Oktoberdans.

    Over the past few years on the festival circuit, talk of European belt-tightening and the perpetual American funding crisis has become perennial background static. But Norway has remained insulated from

  • diary May 14, 2012

    Catch as Catch Can

    AT 6 PM there were little kids occupying the front row of cushions, helping out the performers. By the top of the 7 PM show, one of our hosts was already facedown and motionless on the stage. During the 8 o’clock stretch, six mini–Krackel bars and an unwisely full glass of red wine had solved my dinner quandary. Fewer kids and more drag: Life was moving in the right direction. At 10:05 we were all, somehow, enthusiastically clapping along to a cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” The wine and its successor were long gone. By 11:30, there were grandmothers doing power moves on the stage. I was

  • diary January 21, 2012

    Performance Anxiety

    “I’M GOING TO HAVE MY EYES CLOSED for a little bit. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not with you.”

    So spoke Jennifer Lacey, the highly regarded American choreographer who has been based in Paris for the past twelve years. It was a line from her whimsical, agile solo Gattica, which had its American premiere here last week as part of the American Realness festival at Abrons Arts Center.

    Her words could have been the slogan for APAP, the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York, where there aren’t enough hours in the day or shots at the bar to manage the absurd onslaught

  • diary June 27, 2011

    P.S. I Love You

    GIVEN THE MANY OUTRAGEOUS SPECTACLES that have occurred on the stages of Performance Space 122—the bodily liquids spilled, the obscenities flung about, the highly questionable (and perhaps illegal) acts—it’s funny to think that one of the most memorable events in the final days of its present incarnation was utterly conventional: a wedding ceremony.

    The vows were exchanged Friday evening, installment two of the four-night Old School 122 Benefit, the culmination of P.S. 122’s thirtieth anniversary and the last shebang before the East Village institution vacates during the long-planned, multiyear

  • diary January 14, 2011

    Body Shop

    ANYONE WHO THINKS there’s nothing to buy or sell in the performing arts has never been to APAP. The annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York, which this year fell from January 7 to 11, features over one thousand showings by more than five hundred artists, all hoping to get their “product” picked up. And this isn’t even counting the increasingly ambitious (overstuffed?) festivals that have coalesced around APAP like asteroid fields sucked into the Death Star’s gravitational pull. It’s like the city becomes one giant performance mall.

    “It’s a marketplace—let’s not

  • diary September 30, 2010

    Time Traveler

    THERE’S NOTHING LIKE sitting in a dark room, watching a graphic sex tape.

    Especially when you’re surrounded by a dozen or so strangers, a spotlight beaming down on your chair, everyone well aware that you alone have decided the crowd should watch Paris Hilton and her boyfriend go to town.

    Turns out, the Wooster Group’s Elizabeth LeCompte is right: It really is easier to watch murder in public than porn. Her point was proved at this month’s Time-Based Art Festival, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual smorgasbord of durational work. The Woosters’ 360-degree interactive video

  • diary May 08, 2010

    Live Aid

    New York

    IN THE PERFORMING ARTS WORLD, as you head south from the safe environs of uptown Manhattan, the chance (or danger, depending on your constitution) of being hauled onstage grows ever greater. When the genre is neo-burlesque, audience participation is almost a foregone conclusion.

    And so it was Tuesday evening on the Lower East Side, at Performance Space 122’s spring gala in a packed Abrons Arts Center, that two hapless men found themselves suddenly outfitted with panties, gauzy red skirts, cowboy hats, and Rapunzel wigs, serving as human scaffolding for the acrobatic hijinks of the Wau Wau Sisters.

  • diary March 17, 2010

    Confessions on a Dance Floor

    New York

    HAD YOU WANDERED into Judson Memorial Church on Saturday morning you would have heard at least one of the following:



    “I am a buzzing dolphin.”

    It would have taken a minute to extract such utterances from the cacophony that came from several dozen people growling, chanting, and yelling while dancing improvised solos that ranged from minute shifts to fluid phrases to spastic contortions.

    In the middle of all this organized mayhem stood a compact woman with a weathered face and frizzy gray-brown hair, who looked to be in her late sixties. She is actually eighty-nine, and one of the

  • diary January 18, 2010

    Stage Struck

    New York

    VALLEJO GANTNER, artistic director of Performance Space 122, stood in his institution’s upstairs theater before a group of industry insiders last Monday. He smiled. “Those of you who aren’t from New York—we can’t wait for you to leave. We’re tired.”

    There was a pause. Gantner’s colleagues laughed. He didn’t add “Just kidding.”

    So goes APAP, the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference. While most industries are just beginning to shake off their holiday lethargy, the performing arts are in full, frenetic overdrive.

    There are panel discussions, meet and greets, parties. And

  • diary November 05, 2009

    Food for Thought

    New York

    AS THE GLITTERY, moneyed mass of guests surged toward the open freight elevator Friday night on the fourth floor of X Initiative, it was difficult to escape metaphors involving lemmings and cliffs. Performa’s opening celebration, a made-to-be-eaten food installation by Jennifer Rubell (of, yes, those Rubells) called Creation, was all about quantity and consumption: a show of excess in a time of scarcity.

    The elevator contained a tremendously stocked “DIY” bar. Guests needed only to pour, after grabbing one of thirty-six hundred drinking glasses—from goblets to jugs—and scooping out some ice from

  • diary May 03, 2009

    Song and Dance

    New York

    ROUGHLY TWENTY-FOUR HOURS INTO “ROLL CALL,” Movement Research’s ten-day spring festival, the choreographers Megan Byrne and Will Rawls sat hunkered down in their booth at the Williamsburg diner Relish. They looked both wired and spent, he wolfing down a cheeseburger and she nursing a spartan coffee as they examined guest lists in between the night’s activities: an earlier toast at the Black & White Project Space and, in a mere half hour, “Internet Killed the Video Star,” a showing of experimental, low-tech dance films at MonkeyTown. (The informal evening drew an eclectic range of artists,

  • film January 07, 2009

    Dance Off

    CAMERAS AND DANCING BODIES would seem a match made in heaven. Just look at the collaboration between Isaac Julien and Stephen Galloway in the former’s bewitching film Fantôme Afrique (2005) or at the sublimely magical choreography of animated forms in Fantasia (1940): Not for nothing is the film business known as the “motion picture” industry.

    But these perfect unions are surprisingly, frustratingly rare, as underlined by a smorgasbord like “Dance on Camera,” presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Dance Films Association at the Walter Reade Theater. This year’s festival features