Performance Space New York Presents The World Premiere Of Gillian Walsh's FAME NOTIONS
Performance Space New York presents Gillian Walsh's Fame Notions, a meditation on the American dancer. As part of the No Series-comprised of works that locate power and creativity in refusal- Fame Notions refuses the externalized spectacle of dance; it hovers well beyond performative time, within dancers' interior experiences of alienation derived from a life circling the desires of the contemporary dance economy. Walsh-a Performance Space New York Associate Artist-has a love-hate relationship with the medium of dance that results, as she describes, in pieces that often work "underneath expectations of theatrical affect, leaning into an infinite and dense emptiness"; they are "abstract, anti-didactic, and anti-narrative." Behind the seemingly hermetic surface of Walsh's repetitive dances, however, lies a sincere attempt to carve out a new role for dance as an artistic medium to experiment with non-capitalist temporalities and create new spaces for collective experiences. Fame Notions asks everyone in the room-including the audience-to slow down considerably.
Fame Notions is an anagram of Yvonne Rainer's famous No Manifesto (1965), a historic reference to another artist's attempt to expand the notion of what dance can do. Instead of just criticizing formalist conventions, Walsh takes her critique a step further and situates dance's materialist foundations as inherently alienating. In researching for Fame Notions, Walsh began posting ads on casting websites and interviewing dancers about their desires, their realities, and their feelings of disillusionment about the trajectory of rigorously training for a decade in studios and BFA programs and being spat, debt-saddled, into the material and psychological void of trying to work as a professional dancer. Though Walsh often works with longtime collaborators, here she decided to audition and engage dancers she had never met-many of whom had recently left competitive BFA programs, and were made keenly aware of the mainstream's ideal image of the American contemporary dancer.
"I feel like the dancer in general is a very silenced figure and demographic, and it was important that the interviews I conducted with the dancers I cast were the primary method of sorting through these ideas," explains Walsh. "That process created more nuance in terms of how I think about the reality of alienation-and the textural elements of what that is for these specific dancers, and dancers more at large."
Fame Notions is part of Performance Space New York's No Series, comprising works that locate power and creativity in refusal. The series began in January, 2019, and has featured First Nation Dialogues: Kin, curated by Emily Johnson, with Joshua Pether, S.J Norman, Mariaa Randall, Genevieve Grieves, Paola Balla, and Muriel Miguel; niv Acosta and Fannie Sosa's Black Power Naps installation and performance Choir of the Slain (Part X); Hannah Black's video installation Beginning, End, None; and Hannah Black and Juliana Huxtable's performance Penumbra (May 15, 16).Beyond Fame Notions, it will also feature I wanna be with you everywhere, organized by Arika, Amalle Dublon, Jerron Herman, Johnson, Carolyn Lazard, Park McArthur, Alice Sheppard and Constantina Zavitsanos (April 11-14), and will conclude with Ligia Lewis' minor matter(May 21-22) and Water Will (in Melody)(May 28-29).
Fame Notions begins at 4pm and continues into the evening, May 17-19 at Performance Space New York (150 1st Avenue, 4th Floor). General admission tickets are $25, and student and senior tickets are $15; they are available at performancespacenewyork.org.