Friday, March 4, 2011

Uptown Girl

I think it's because I went to Barnard; that special place that I love so much and romanticize in my head and get so passionate about. That campus which served as home base for four fantastic years is uptown... Morningside Heights... Harlem... where I geographically feel at home. There's honestly no place I'd rather live in New York City. I am an Uptown Girl, through and through.

The thing is, I'm also a dancer. In case you didn't know, in New York City there is somewhat of a divide between Uptown Dance and Downtown Dance. When folks think of Uptown Dance they think a little more traditional: the offerings of Lincoln Center (New York City Ballet, Juilliard) and Dance Theater of Harlem.  I'll throw in stages such as Harlem Stage, The Riverside Theater, and Miller Theater. I'll even say 92nd St. Y, a historic and still vital presenter of dance, launching the career of many great moderns. And we can't forget the mainstream companies regularly presented at City Center (though really located in midtown): Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor, and American Ballet Theater.

Downtown Dance is then left open to be everything else. Presenters such as Dance Theater Workshop, now New York Live Arts, and Dance New Amsterdam among them, are usually thought of as spaces to produce experimental, avant-garde work. I would also venture to say that it is within the Downtown Dance community that most opportunities exist for emerging artists and companies (that's me). What is more, downtown has become by extension Brooklyn. And this is the real reason for this post.

I'm tired of going to Brooklyn. I JOURNEY to Brooklyn at least 2-3 times a week for dance; and probably once a week for social reasons. That is 4 times a week x 1 to 1.5 hours of travel each way. That's potentially 12 hours of time (HALF A DAY) spent on the train a week.
Map of New York City: Brooklyn is FAR.
Some folks would say, Why don't you just move to Brooklyn? I say simply, Harlem is home.

The thing is... I live in Harlem. If New York City is the arts and culture capital, Harlem is like capital of the capital. At least, it should be. Harlem Renaissance, anyone? And don't hit me with the that was in the 1920s. All those creative people's grand-babies live right here. There's nothing but creative people ALL AROUND. For some reason though, we don't seem to be so organized. Or maybe there's not enough young people to organize. And in dance... there's a gazillion of us living next door to each other, but instead of organizing, creating and presenting in our own neighborhoods we get on the train for an hour and a half to Brooklyn. Boo!

So, this is my public proclamation and commitment to being a Harlem-based artist. I do hereby swear to love honor and cherish my home neighborhood. I will be an active member of its arts community by creating and presenting here. I will collaborate and partner with other Harlem businesses and organizations. I will help to highlight Harlem's vibrancy and get people to travel uptown.

Now this doesn't mean you won't ever catch me in Brooklyn. (I've got a show there in a few weeks... March 26. 8 pm. "The Pearl" at The Schermerhorn Theater. $10.) It just means that I'm an Uptown Girl, and sometimes you're gonna have to get on the train and come see me. :)

2 comments:

Erica Frankel said...

I also get frustrated taking the train into Brooklyn 4-5 times each week to dance or rehearse. All of my Harlem/WH friends are starting to get pissed. I even had a DREAM about this last night: that I ran into some close friends from school rehearsing at a studio a block from my house that I didn't even know existed (it doesn't).

Keep me posted.

Sydnie said...

I didn't know you lived uptown! Where? (Well you don't have to publish that info here, lol). Anyways, join the movement. Dance Uptown!!!!

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