Lori DeGolyer reviews Dixon Place’s Brink showcase featuring works by Diana Crum and Katy Pyle.
More than a snug experimental theater in Soho, Dixon Place is home to the voices of marginalized artists. Self-proclaimed as placing “special emphasis on the needs of women, people of color, youth, seniors and lesbian/gay artists,” the theater offers a necessary space for local talent in the literary and performing arts. As part of their new dance series, Brink, the theater featured two works-in-progress by choreographers Diana Crum and Katy Pyle on February 28th and 29th—works that both explore and push traditional limits of dance, albeit from vastly different places.
Lori DeGolyer chats with choreographer devynn emory after catching a rehearsal of their latest piece, this horse is not a home.
A transgenderqueer choreographer, dancer, and massage therapist, devynn emory is fluent in the language of the body. Well-versed in both classical and contemporary techniques, emory infuses traditional aesthetics of dance with the conceptual and enigmatic charm of performance art. emory’s choreography contemplates the presence and absence of space along with the various bodies that occupy it—awakening a heightened sense of weight as bodies fall and compile, extend and recoil, and flourish in transition.
In their latest piece, this horse is not a home, emory presents a dynamic confluence of movement based on their close relationships with three performers—Margot Bassett, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, and Meghan Milam—while bringing some newer elements to the table, including an 18-foot-long hair extension of their braided tail. I recently had the opportunity to see a rehearsal of this piece and later, to interview emory over tea. emory is currently in residence with New York Live Arts where they will be showing this horse is not a home on February 24th and 25th—find your tickets here.
Lori DeGolyer Do you consider yourself a modern dancer or a performance artist and how do you make the distinction between those classifications?
Devynn Emory This is a conversation topic that I have with a lot of my comrades . . . how to define this form we partake in. There’s shifting language right now on how to name it. I suppose I would say I am a contemporary choreographer, if I had to hold an umbrella over me. Modern dance is really classic, which is what I was trained in, lots of Graham, Horton and Release. These are deep in my muscle memory and foundation. I imagine because of this, I hold onto a lot of formalist structures. Add a splash of “experimental dance scene”, “downtown choreographer”, and “performance artist” into the mix and I guess I would call myself a contemporary experimental performing artist? (laughter) The age-old downtown dance question.
A talented trio of ladies discusses the collaborative process that defines their band, the different epochs their various albums embody, and the ongoing search for meaningful, yet fun, musical expression.
A sophisticated version of your older sister’s garage band, Grass Widow is a post-punk trio that will actually let you stand in the doorway and listen while you finish your Hot Pocket. Electric and expressive, repetitive and loose, the San Francisco-based band mixes rusty instrumentals with an ambling, fluid harmonization, carrying the Bay Area feel along with them. Comprised of Hannah Lew on bass, Raven Mahon on guitar, and Lillian Maring on drums, and with no single front person, Grass Widow features democratic vocals and advocates age and gender inclusive shows.
Their third full-length album, Internal Logic, comes out on their own label HLR Records (Hannah, Lillian, and Raven, of course) on May 29th. Simultaneously experimental and straightforwardly lyrical, Internal Logic is a fine fit for the hot, wet season ahead. I spoke with the band via email about the new album, touching on the writing process, grief, and the influence of place on their sound.
Lori DeGloyer How did the band come about?
Lillian Maring Hannah and Raven were in a band called Shitstorm with Frankie Rose and our friend Wu. I was living in Olympia, Washington and had met Hannah and Wu through touring with other bands. I moved to San Francisco the spring of 2007 and filled in on drums for Shitstorm because Frankie had moved to New York. Wu left on a bike trip to Mexico and the three who remained began messing around with vocal ideas and started writing songs.
Dustin Wong’s meditative, minimalist jams are paths to enlightenment. Or at least euphoria. Lori DeGolyer talks to Wong about his sonic gardening.
Dustin Wong is a horticulturist of experimental minimalist sounds. With his guitar strings, pedals, and loops, he navigates an undergrowth of dreamy auditory development that is ethereal, yet lives, breathes, and sprawls in various directions, opening the listener up new ways of experiencing sound.
Wong’s new record, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, out February 21 on Thrill Jockey Records, is an extension of his acclaimed solo debut, Infinite Love (or maybe fungi growing out of it, or a part of a growth-death-growth cycle—think the time-lapse transformations of Planet Earth). I spoke with Wong via email about his work and what influences it—including Sneetches, jump-cuts, and girl groups from the early ’60s.
Lori DeGolyer I read about your process on Thrill Jockey’s press release, but I found myself especially confused when the explanation went to envelope filters and dye, as poetic as it is. Can you express your process in layperson’s terms without losing the poetry?
Dustin Wong The envelope filter is definitely a hard one to explain, but it has this ability to change the color of the sound that is going into it. It mutates the sound, in a way. It’s kind of like the ooze in Ninja Turtles. Do you remember that Dr. Seuss story about the Sneetches?