Everyone seems to think that New York is the sole location where vital and relevant dance is being made. Of course, it is a gem, a home to so many gifted artists who I admire. But for me, it is also an environment where making work requires the sacrifice of one’s very quality of life. The trade-off inherent in this paradigm is enormous. What is lost is the health of the nervous system, leisure time and connection with nature. These trade-offs become subliminally apparent within the artist’s work. As Gertrude Stein says, “How it is made is what is seen.” For a society that supports the outdated idea that artists should suffer, this picture of the struggling independent artist in an increasingly affluent city fits just right.
On the whole, struggle is not something that Portland does well. The people of Portland prioritize quality of life. They are not afraid to feel good. This revelry in the senses is present in the city’s art and its everyday. This ability to enjoy the very experience of the body and the earth belongs decidedly to the West Coast. Without the dizzying energy of a nature-starved metropolis, we are left with oxygen to breathe, space to inhabit, and time to simply exist.
In this environment the experience within the body is felt and from it, the dance grows. This dance is one that is markedly human, bathed in cellular fluid and buttressed with bone. From this soft container grows the work of healthy individuals. A sensuous spirit permeates this entire region and consequently, its artwork as well.
Now I still find the inertia of my past dancing life in New York speeding forward with a velocity that is hard to slow. But within this tense trajectory are blips of unfamiliarity. In these spaces I see myself awakening to my skin, my breath and the air.