Muscle Memory


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On the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, there
will be dancing from morning till evening in response to that tragedy and its
lasting effects. All of it will be outdoors and free of charge, as several
choreographers offer meditative, solemn or quietly uplifting works in settings
where a maximum number of people can experience them.


Dance performances were taking place on the World Trade
Center Plaza during the week when the terror attacks occurred, and the Evening
Stars series was scheduled to present Parsons' company on the 11th. As it
turned out, the performance by Twyla Tharp Dance on Sept. 8 turned out to be
the last one to take place before the towers fell.


Choreographers, so many of whom live and work in lower
Manhattan, have reacted to the fateful day's events often and with varying
approaches. Some created works as specific memorials and tributes. Mark Morris'V and Paul Taylor's PrometheanFire-eloquent masterworks that premieredsoon after the events-though abstract and in no way specifically linked toSeptember 11, emerged as inspiring, hopeful responses to the tragedy.


On this anniversary, the first dance event will coincide
with the time when the first plane struck the World Trade Center. Jacqulyn
Buglisi's Table of Silence Project willoffer a ceremonial, spare procession by 100 dancers in white who will form apeace labyrinth encircling the Lincoln Center fountain. It will begin at 8:20a.m. and culminate at 8:46 with the mass of dancers raising their outstretchedarms in a gesture of universal peace.


Buglisi intends the piece as a way of opening this somber
day with a prayer. The 100 dancers represent many nations and a wide variety ofbackgrounds and dance experience.


"I hope the Table of Silence Project provides hope and global understanding. It's notreally a dance, but an expression of our humanity in a universal language," shesaid recently after rehearsing 70 of the dancers at the Baryshnikov ArtsCenter.


As waves of dancers moved through grounded, cyclical phrases, sheemphasized the importance of breathing and the specific force and intention ofeach step. Those participating include her own company members as well as studentsfrom Juilliard, Martha Graham Center, the Ailey School, National DanceInstitute, Ballet Hispanico, STEPS on Broadway and Peridance Capezio Center.


Sarah Skaggs' 9/11Dance%u2015A Roving Memorial, performed by 20 dancers (including herself), willmigrate through lower Manhattan with performances in three parks during theafternoon. For this occasion, Skaggs has broadened Dances for Airports, a solo, into a group piece that will also be
performed the same day at three sites in Washington, D.C., and also in
Shanksville, Penn., at the memorial park on the site where Flight 93 went down.



The original solo was something Skaggs began shortly after
the attacks. She lived 20 blocks from the World Trade Center.


"What are wesupposed to do after something like that: go back into studio, isolateourselves and continue with our work as if nothing had happened?" she says. "Itchanged what the function of dance was, for me. Without being a didactic,political piece of art, could it have another focus? I started to reassess whatwas the function and meaning of dance. Was it really this ecstatic thing in thebody? I started by standing still in the studio, and one of my dancers handedme Brian Eno's Music for Airports, and Ibegan to make a solo that was really slow and reflective and tapped a new kindof dance vocabulary for me.


"I had a eureka moment in May where I thought, I have to
teach this-I can't just do this dance by myself in rarefied concert form; I
have to go teach this dance to all kinds of dancers. We're going to walk around
on 9/11 with this material as a movement choir. I called it an inverse flash
mob in the beginning, but that was confusing people. It's a meditative,
reflective dance that infuses the public's fear with the body in a beautiful,
flowing way. At these outdoor performances, the piece will be be embedded in
the park itself, so we're among the people milling around. It begins very much
guerilla style; you don't know that it's actually started, but you figure out
something is happening."


The performances of Skaggs' 11-minute work will take place
at noon in Union Square Park, at 1 p.m. in Washington Square Park and 2 p.m. inBattery Park, at the north end of each park.


The day's final dance event takes place in Rockefeller Park,
located at the northern end of Battery Park City. The Joyce Theater Foundation
is presenting this evening of dance and music on both Sept. 10 and 11 at 5 p.m.
The Limón Dance Company will perform Jose Limón's Missa Brevis and the Paul Taylor Company will perform Brandenburgs. Matthew Rushing of the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theatre will dance Ailey' A Song for You, while Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts will appear in a new work by Jessica
Lang commissioned by the Joyce for this occasion. The Voices of Ascension and
the Orchestra of St. Luke's will provide music.





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