In 1971, Trisha Brown gathered nine dancers dressed in red and scattered them across rooftops in lower Manhattan. For half an hour, the dancers — all of whom stood blocks apart — relayed a series of movements to each other, in the dance world’s version of the game of telephone. The work, called Roof Piece, was staged several times during the early 1970s, but had not been performed in its original rooftop context since 1973.
Last night, Brown’s dance company restaged the piece in the vicinity of the High Line Park on Manhattan’s west side, on the rooftops of office buildings, butchers and trendy restaurants. The weather, initially, did not cooperate. (An end-of-the-world thunder shower — complete with lightning — left all of us spectators huddling under the Standard Hotel shortly before the show was supposed to begin.) But once things cleared, everyoe took their positions. Ironically, the steely skies made a perfect backdrop to the bright red outfits worn by the performers.
There was something beautifully zen/tai chi about the whole exercise, with one dancer’s gesture inspiring another’s and then another’s, over several square blocks, in a rippling chain reaction. If you have a chance, there are still three more performances over the course of the weekend (and they’re free). Find the schedule here. For a good take on the original performance, see this write-up by photographer Babbette Mangolte.
All photos by C-M.
At this point, we (and by we, I mean New Yorkers) have all read/heard/ dreamt/talked breathlessly about the High Line, the brand spankin’ new urban park on Manhattan’s west side that occupies a defunct elevated rail line once popular with the urban decay set. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a design firm “at the crossroads of architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts” – at least, that’s what the website says – it has been hailed for the way in which it seamlessly fuses the abandoned railway aesthetic with plantings worthy of Garden Design.
But now that the park has been co-opted by the good people of New York, it has struck me that the High Line is less an urban design masterpiece than the world’s longest catwalk: a nine-block fashion runway where the sleek and the manicured arrive to display their studiously-casual boho frocks and ginormous sunglasses. And I, for one, totally dig it. The polished industrial design is so of-the-moment, the views are spectacular and the people-watching, some of the best in New York. Diller Scofidio + Renfro were even thoughtful enough to incorporate a well-designed stoner hang-out — an area I like to refer to as the “Stoner Pit.” (Pairs well with Kahuna).
To accompany the extravaganza of urban professionals, we suggest picking up a well-stuffed lobster roll from Lobster Place inside the Chelsea Market (or the cheaper shrimp tarragon roll) and following it up with the frozen deliciousness at L’Arte del Gelato (they usually have a cart parked at about 15th street on the park). Then sit back and enjoy the spectacle.