Tara Aisha Willis: Where We Land, Where We Fly, October 2016-2017 [Excerpt]
March 20, 2018
by Tara Aisha Willis
This space holds the weight of a beautiful dance history, one that hasn’t held our bodies—as whole beings—as well or often as I’d like to think, has held us up as precious only in a certain light, illuminating for us only some of our options, illuminating for others only some of our possible selves. I recently spent some time reading through Danspace Project Platform catalogues from past years, looking for traces of Danspace’s history, and its poetry—hoping to explain how the twenty dancers involved in the October 2016 Skeleton Architecture performance came to land in the cavern of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery for an historic night. Among the endless list of artists who’ve brought their work into contention with these vast ceilings, symmetrical leveled altars, the wide plane of these pale wood floors, bounded by carpet; its audiences that assemble and reassemble, the same people circulating in and out of the years in different arrangements and timeframes, but always with overlap. An irrepressible babel of histories and knowledge were held forth in our bodies with each step, ground rising up and falling away over the passing minutes. All the dancers who have traversed this floor over decades, sent a gaze or the line of an arm up to the rafters. The dancers we don’t see in our minds’ eyes when many of us think St. Mark’s Church, Danspace Project, dance in the East Village, “downtown dance,” “experimental performance.” The proscenium stage creeps in across the church’s mutable expanses even with that widening sprawl, even if by intentional omission or rejection.
Excerpt from the catalogue Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance