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News and Forum, 1-12: Time Out
Injury Fells Michelson; is the Divine Ms. M. a Winner or a Whiner?
Commentary by Paul
Response from Rebecca Lazier
As first reported by
Elizabeth Zimmer in the Village Voice and noted in an alert to the
Dance Insider e-mail list Friday, an injury to choreographer-performer
Sarah Michelson has forced the postponement of Michelson's "Daylight,"
manager Barbara Bryan informs us. Scheduled to open January 6, the
show will instead open January 17 at P.S. 122, where it is scheduled
to run through January 22.
Zimmer's report appeared
in a provocative big-picture article published in last week's
Village Voice. As one might expect from Zimmer, the piece is no
simple curtain-raiser but, rather, looks at the general situation
of dance artists in New York today by looking at the living conditions
of one of the scene's current successes, at least as measured by
bookings. By that standard, at least, Michelson is having a good
run -- but not, to hear her tell it to Zimmer, by her standard of
I'm down with the angst
of being artistically successful but four months behind in your
rent with no health insurance and unable to fix your busted teeth.
(Why do you think I'm writing this from France? I got one tooth
replaced for for $600, other carnage removed for less than $100.
A check-up costs 20 Euros here and you can get oodles of prescriptions
filled for less than 20. Call me up next time you're on this side,
Sarah, and I'll set you up! As for rent, while the dive of the dollar
has made things tighter, I'm still paying less in dollar terms than
I was paying for my 8th Street hovel in 2001 and for an apartment
twice the size, not including the expansive balcony and the Heavenly
address.) I also remember the poignancy of interviewing Mark Dendy
in 1997 in his Houston Street hutch, as he was preparing his breakthrough
"Dream Analysis" for the Joyce, and him telling me he almost had
his electricity cut off.
BUT...when the "Despondent
Diva," as the Voice dubs her, starts complaining about not having
a second room available whenever lovers stay over, I find myself
reaching for the ever-ready smallest accordion in the world. And
when she wonders whether it is all worth it, Walker commission,
European touring (with Euro compensation) and all, I start to wonder
how other really struggling -- not just with the rent, but for a
berth for their work -- artists might view Sarah's plight.
In other words: Is Ms.
Michelson a winner or a whiner? I put the question to our e-mail
list Friday, and got the following response from Rebecca Lazier,
artistic director of the Terrain dance company:
"You know, I often look
to other choreographers and think, Oh how I would like to have what
they have: a booking at P.S. 122, at the Kitchen, at BAM, a reputation
for being ultra-cool, the darling of the downtown scene. I have
been choreographing, year after year, and have some modest success
(company budget last year: $30,000) and some huge aspirations. But,
during this time, I have also been able to: buy a house, have a
child, have health insurance, and develop a teaching career in the
thing I love most: dance, without ever working in a restaurant.
In the dark moments I want what I don't have, I crave to be the
other. When reading Zimmer's portrayal of Michelson I couldn't help
but feel extremely grateful for the first time in many months. The
choices I have made, in this horrendous economic environment for
arts, have accumulated to -- not a place of compromise that I so
fear -- but a place of sustainable living and creating. Perhaps
Sarah and I could trade places for a day, just to see what it feels
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