Countdown to Gala 2017, Day 34: Excerpts from Issue #17 of the Movement Research Performance Journal

The 2017 Movement Research Gala on May 8 will celebrate 25 years of Movement Research at the Judson Church and 50 Issues of the Movement Research Performance Journal. As we count down the days until the Gala, we’re posting #50DaysOfMRPJ with Editor’s Notes and excerpts from each Performance Journal.

Movement Research Performance Journal Issue #17 was released in Fall/Winter 1998–99. You can view the full Table of Contents here.

*The Movement Research Gala will take place Monday, May 8 at 6pm at Judson Memorial Church. For more information, to volunteer or to purchase tickets, click here.

#MRGala2017 #50DaysOfMRPJ

MRPJ#17: Memory/Place

Editor’s Note

Editors: Anya Pryor

ABOUT THE TITLE (on memory)

I wanted to call this journal something like traces or residues. Not that I think memory is trash, but the feeling of looking at the handwriting on a rolodex card of someone who isn’t there, but whose mind and feeling somehow persists, is like the feeling of dust on the tongue. Performance is always lamented as lost once the show is over, as is work done in the studio. Yet I have felt something remaining in the places where people thought deeply, discovered something, moved someone else, left their sweat and the echoes of their thought. The past haunts the aesthetics, values and structures of Danspace and Movement Research in some very direct ways. I remember standing on Avenue A with Guy Yarden who told me “we don’t really invite critics” and a year later Carol Swann said when she started presenting work “I didn’t want critics to come.” This journal is a scrapbook, a collective photo album of events that only a small number witnessed, long views of what the beginning looks like from now, and close-ups of present memories in the making.

BEHIND THE SCENES (one perspective)

Yoshiko Chuma called up and asked “What are you doing for the 20th Anniversary Benefit?” I had intended a history journal, so Yoshiko and I went about interviewing people, creating first an oral history. Some excerpts were published in the Benefit program and played at the event; the interview with Cynthia Hedstrom in this journal is from that effort. Then Laurie Uprichard asked Cathy Edwards about publishing some writing about the Danspace Project’s 25th Anniversary. Carol Mullins, the long-time lighting maestro of Danspace, graciously lent her help rounding up Danspace writers as I moved away from New York. We have e-mailed this whole journal back and forth far too many times, memories flying thick and fast across the country, adding lines and dropping italics.

THE PLACES (in general)

Movement Research began as a collective of post-Judson artists wanting to go into the studio with questions for each other, wanting a center or a school. Danspace began with Larry Fagin, a poet working with the Poetry Project, assisting dancers who wished to perform in St. Mark’s Church. Movement Research is still primarily a place to study and Danspace to see performance: both support experimentation and risk-taking. It is especially great that the two have joined up for this journal, as Danspace often provides a public face for work coming out of Movement Research. There are many personal crossovers as well; the first singular director for MR, Cynthia Hedstrom, left to take over from Larry Fagin at Danspace. From the first she and Mary Overlie were crucial to both organizations. There is a huge legacy shared by both organizations; everyone in this journal has felt the burden of history staring back at them. It is important to get it right, to connect the pieces of one’s lineage: yet in the physical act of remembering together, going into that squinty-eyed state of “when was that…who was there?” is all the fragility and random contingency underneath history. Here we have had the unusual opportunity to dig into the corners and be surprised at how much we do remember, and how those memories differ, overlap and enrich one another.

Anya Pryor worked at Movement Research for two years and is on her way to Indonesia.