ARTISTS REACH OUT: REFLECTIONS IN A TIME OF ISOLATION
Senior Curatorial Director Eva Yaa Asantewaa dreamed this series of interviews, Artists Reach Out: reflections in a time of isolation, out of grief for her work both as a documenting arts writer and curator of live performance.
“In this time of social distancing, we are called to responsibly do all we can to safeguard ourselves and our neighbors. It is, literally, a matter of life and death.
But there’s no distancing around what we still can share with one another—our experiences, thoughts, wisdom, humor, hearts and spirit. In some ways, there are more opportunities to do so as we pull back from everyday busyness out in the world and have time to honor the call of our inner lives.
So, let me introduce you to some artists I find interesting. I’m glad they’re part of our beautiful community, and I’m eager to engage with them again (or for the first time) in years to come.” – Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Curatorial Director
This interview features Ivy Baldwin, choreographer, performer, and 2019-20 Gibney Dance in Process (DiP) Resident artist.
Ivy Baldwin is a choreographer, performer, educator, and founder of Ivy Baldwin Dance (est. 1999). Commissions include BAM (Next Wave Festival), Philip Johnson Glass House, The Joyce Theater (Joyce Unleashed), Abrons Arts Center, The Chocolate Factory, Dance Theater Workshop, New York Live Arts, and Manitoga. Baldwin’s work, Keen [No. 2], was nominated for a 2018 “Bessie” for Outstanding Visual Design. Baldwin has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Bogliasco Foundation, Jerome Foundation, NYFA Build, FCA Emergency Grant, Tell Foundation, TMU, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and Marble House Project; residencies at Gibney (DiP), MASS MoCA, Mount Tremper Arts, LMCC, and American Dance Institute (ADI); and been an AIR with BAM, Movement Research, Abrons Arts Center, Center for Performance Research, ArtistNe(s)t (Romania), and currently, 92Y. Baldwin’s work has also been presented by Tanz im August Festival/Danceoff! (Germany), Dans Contemporan International Festival (Romania), Dance Center Columbia College (IL), REDCAT (CA), Irvine Barclay Theater (CA), ADI (MD), The Painted Bride (PA), Lincoln Center Out of Doors/Danceoff!, Symphony Space, 92Y, New Museum, Danspace Project, P.S. 122, and La MaMa, E.T.C. Baldwin teaches around the U.S., including The New School Eugene Lang and currently, Bard College.
Ivy Baldwin Dance in Keen [No. 2], performers left to right: Kay Ottinger, Heather Olson, Marýa Wethers and Anna Adams Stark. Photo by Maria Baranova.
Do you have a current or planned project whose progress is affected by the pandemic?
Yes, a few. Currently, I should be mid-DiP residency at Gibney making a new work for and with performers Katie Dean, Kayvon Pourazar and Saúl Ulerio, and composer Justin Jones. My plan was (is!) to also perform in this new work. I should also be completing my year-long 92Y Harkness Artist-in-Residence position—rehearsing at the Y, meeting with my fellow awesome AIRs, having showings, etc., through May.
Finally, I was choreographing a new dance for students at Bard College this semester that would have been performed in their spring concert, but of course classes have moved online and performances cancelled. The Bard Dance Department did not think it made sense to move this performance class online, so my relationship with these wonderful students has been cut quite short.
Briefly, tell me about how you got involved in the arts and in your particular practice.
I’ve been dancing, performing, making dances and theater since I can remember. There honestly hasn’t ever been anything else I wanted to do with my life. I come from a family of artists, and I grew up taking ballet, tap and jazz at the local studio and performing in all the old classic musicals and plays, alongside my mom, at the local college.
I always made my own strange dances in the woods of North Florida where I grew up and knew there was something else out there for me other than ballet or musical theater. I went on to North Carolina School of the Arts for undergrad, majoring in modern dance, and then moved to New York City immediately after and attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts where I received my MFA in dance. In December 1999, with the help of my friend Danielle Dugas, I rented the Cunningham Studio for one weekend, and Ivy Baldwin Dance was born.
In a more specific way, what are you practicing?
My normal practice involves spending an incredible amount of time not actually moving, but applying for things—project grants, general administrative funding, company residencies, artist-in-residence positions, teaching opportunities. I spend a lot of time working on budgets and emailing presenters, staying in touch. I do all of this so that I can do the thing I love most, which is being in a dance studio with artists making new work (and paying them as much as I can to be there).
Ironically, over the last ten years an important part of my creative practice and identity as an artist has been to go to places like the MacDowell Colony and Bogliasco Foundation each year and spend one month or so on a solo residency outside of NYC. This time alone does not feel like that!
Otherwise, I’m literally currently practicing Cunningham Technique thanks to free daily classes offered from the Merce Trust on Instagram Live. I don’t yet feel inspired to work on my own movement, but I do want to move and dance, and this is giving me some structure, a challenge, and a sense of community. It also taps into my long ago history as a young dancer, which is somehow comforting right now.
And what are you envisioning?
The day I can get back in a dance studio with Katie, Kayvon and Saúl without fear of touching each other.
I’m also simply envisioning each day as they come and trying to navigate them with patience—towards myself, my partner, my parents Zooming from Florida.
How does your practice and your visioning align with what you most care about?
I care most about being in a room together with other artists—experimenting, making, laughing, discussing, and then sharing these works with people who appreciate contemporary art.
I also care deeply about taking care of the artists I work with as best I can. I consider them my family. I’m fortunate that although these immediate opportunities have been cancelled, I’m still receiving fees so I can pay artists for the abrupt loss of work. That said, I don’t yet know how I will pay them to reschedule the work in the future, which worries me.
How does your practice function within the world we have now?
At the moment, I’m honestly just letting the absence of these precious opportunities be felt. I think it’s important to really feel what it’s like to miss being together, to appreciate that and sit with it. My world doesn’t translate online easily, I’m not sure I want it to, so we’ll see. Depending on how long this goes on, I think I’ll be more interested in finding completely new outlets for expression than trying to fit my previous work and practices into these new online models overnight.
Briefly share one self-care tip that has special meaning to you now.
I think taking care of the other person (and our two senior pets) I’m quarantined with is how I’m taking care of myself at the moment. I get up every morning and make coffee and then I bring my husband his. I’ve been doing this for years, but somehow at this moment in time this familiar ritual of care grounds me and brings me joy.
To read all of Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Artists Reach Out interviews, visit infinitebody.blogspot.com.
Top photo by Laura Bianchi.