Greetings from North Carolina

Greetings from Durham, North Carolina, where I’m currently in residence as a fellow at the NEA Arts Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism. The institute takes place at Duke University during the American Dance Festival, so over the past few weeks we’ve been attending ADF’s 2010 performances, including Rubberbandace from Montreal, Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak from Tel-Aviv, Mark Dendy, Eiko & Koma, and Pilobolus.

It’s been an exhilarating ride so far, with a lot of long days gathered around one big mahogany table, talking about everything from the state of the arts in America to how to write an effective lede to why Paul Taylor so frustrates some critics.┬áMy 13 fellow journalists hail from Beijing, Melbourne, New York, Philly, Boston, and San Francisco, and we’re joined each day by luminaries in the field, from Deborah Jowitt of the Village Voice to the wonderful New York Times and Washington Post writer and dance scholar┬áSuzanne Carbonneau, who has lead this program for the past nine years.

Last week, we experimented with new critical forms and created a website where you can check out our responses to Eiko & Koma’s retrospective performance. One colleague and I chose to focus on Eiko and Koma’s apparent affection for potatoes, which appear in a number of their dances. The film we made is called “Why Potatoes?,” and you’ll find it here on ArtsJournal.com. These artists are a total riot, and I hope their explanation demystifies what can be challenging work for some.

Eiko Otake in "Raven."

With the weather forecast showing a high of 96 today, I’d better head out for my morning jog before the sun gets any higher.

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