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Hadley Smith

born: 1986
born in: Columbus, IN
Hadley Smith is a dancer and choreographer hailing from the hinterlands of the midwest. A recent graduate of Barnard College her work focuses on creating physical discourse that accesses non-verbal states, thoughts, feelings, and conditions. Current interest include the space between... [more]

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“Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Bob Fosse (and I mean it,) Alvin Ailey( saw him once in a brilliant performance at the College Conservatory of Music.) These are the people who thrill me, in an art form that is out of my realm of ability. However, I am enthralled with their use of positive and negative space, movement, strength and intelligence.”
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posted on 09.27.09





Recently I've been trying to gear myself up to start a new project, choreograph something, get back to the studio after sitting in an office all day but I've found it really hard. For the first time in about two years I'm walking around without some inkling of a piece that I know will eat at me until I make it, without the need to produce something, create a little everyday. The list of possible reasons why is pretty lengthy: I'm tired after work, I've been trying to put a house together for three months, I'm consumed with practical (dull) things like laundry and money and whats in the fridge and money and wheres the train and money...and the shit goes on. But I don't think any of that really has anything to do with it. I think I've been mindblowingly busy for the past 7 years of my life and still I've always made that time to get things MADE. 

I think its not about making time. I think I made four dances in six months this year. I think I'm hibernating. 


I've always found the quirks of other people's creative processes to be really interesting especially when creating seems to become a compulsion. When you look at the obsessive compulsive need to make of a lot of outsider artists for instance - take Henry Darger - sometimes I think the most fascinating aspect of their bodies of work is the sheer size, the concept that they couldn't stop themselves from producing. I think a lot of attention has been paid to the practical limits that stop artist from doing their work and to the amazing projects that get done despite limited resources. But I've never really heard a good discussion take place about why sometimes certain people may need to stop producing just to produce and to allow a little room for  - 

And thats the thing, I don't know how to finish that sentence. Time for what? Maybe nothing. No need to prove you worth/"brilliance". No thing to fixate upon. The allowance of mental drift. The ability to immerse yourself in another's process without constantly contrasting it to what you would do/make/present. This is the portion of my hibernation I'm enjoying the most right now - submerging myself in others projects without feeling the pressure to produce something myself in return.  

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Dance Theater Workshop

For forty years DTW has provided a standard of dance programming that is nearly unmatched. Consistently bringing in fresh talent from around the city and the globe while presenting established artists - DTW's Fall and Spring programs are incredibly rich and varied. DTW also offers far more than main stage performances - a studio series, Family Matters series, lobby talks, and artists resources are all apart of the package. 

The Kitchen

The Kitchen has been presenting avant-garde work to New Yorkers since its inception as an artists collective in 1971. I've never been to the Kitchen without feeling profoundly challenged by the work I see there and their mixed programming of music, dance, theater, and film and gallery pull visitors from their usual genre of interest into the larger world of contemporary art in New York. The performance space is fairly large and hugely adaptable - perfect for dance works in which the audience/performer relationship is questioned.

Monday Nights at Judson Church - Movement Research Performance Series

These free, weekly shows are an excellent survey of the new artists currently creating dance work of all kinds. Performances are varied and a wonderful way to introduce oneself to new talent. Judson Church and its long connection to the dance scene in New York is the perfect space for a series that presents such fresh inventive dance.

Danspace Project

Also located in a church sanctuary, and also focusing on innovation and new talent, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church affords artists a chance to present evening length works in one of the city's most inspiring spaces. Unlike Movement Research at Judson Church, audiences are more likely to encounter the "finished product" rather than a work in progress, yet an emphasis on experimentation still remains. 

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Like the Kitchen, BAM (as it is so lovingly known) has provided a steady fare of theater, music, art, film, and dance since the 1960's. Often companies presented here are of the more established variety - the companies of Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, and Merce Cunningham have all made appearances here within the last year. Yet true to their mission of promoting the avant-garde BAM's Next Wave festival often features dance companies from around the world who have arrived upon the scene more recently. While BAMs theater spaces are more of the proscenium variety - and thus not always ideal for dance (in case these spaces haven't tipped anyone off already, I'm a strong believer in the black box concept) there is something incredibly, satisfyingly lush about the Harvey Lichtenstein Theater even when one is seated in the second balcony.

While these are my absolute favorite places to see dance - the places I use to guide me to new artists and that I return to again and again - the following joints aren't so bad either: 

The Joyce Theater (see also Joyce Soho)

City Center (especially during Fall for Dance) 

PS 122 this place really belongs on the original list, but as I have only seen one performance there (its a dark spot in my dance going career) it has yet to completely secure a spot in my heart. 

The Chocolate Factory (a new space with much promise in Long Island City)

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posted on 05.21.09



Modern And Contemporary Dance



In an effort to keep myself organized and others aware I want to detail some dance performances worth catching that are going on in the next week. I'll report back on the good, the bad, and the stuff I was mad I paid to see.


Megan Springer's "...within us" is going on now until May 24th at PS 122. Everything I've read about this work tells me that the dancers will be all about getting up in peoples faces. I'll be there Friday feeling the excitement that only comes when art literally invades my personal space. Tickets $20, $15 for students and seniors and people who are no longer students but plan on milking their IDs for as long as possible. Refer to the youtube link for a sneak peak.

Wednesday will find me at Dance Theater Workshop watching John Jasperse Company perform "Becky, Jodi and John" a remount of a work created by three friends who also happen to be some of the most interesting choreograpahers/dancers/performers working today. Post show talk with Tere O'Connor should be good as well, if you like having fun and learning things that is. 

Depending on the intricacies of La Guardia Airport, I will hopefully find myself downtown at Judson Church for Movement Research's weekly Monday night performance series on June 1st at 8pm. I'm most excited to see the work of Anna Sperber whom I dutifully internet stalked after hearing that she would be a Sugar Salon choreographer setting/creating work on the lovely ladies of the Barnard College Dance Department. 


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