Related Features


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: DraftWork at Danspace, Curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones

DAY IN THE LIFE OF DANCE: DraftWork at Danspace, Curated by Ishmael Houston-Jones
Miranda Stuck

By Miranda Stuck
View Profile | More From This Author

Published on October 5, 2023
Qween Jean & ms. z tye. Photo by Lily Cohen

With Artistic Input From Nicole Mannarino, Taylor Stanley, and ms. z tye

WHEN: Saturday, September 23, 2023
WHERE: St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E 10th St, New York, NY

An artist’s first draft  is always exciting to experience. It’s an uncommon privilege to gain insight into the unfiltered creative brain. Danspace Project's presentation of first drafts, the DraftWork series, is well known for its support of individuality, the creative process, and conversation. Curated by award-winning choreographer, improviser, performer and author, Ishmael Houston-Jones, DraftWork hosts informal performances on Saturday afternoons, offering audiences intimate contact with fresh choreographic voices in the historical space of St. Mark's Church. The series, which engages specifically with younger and underrepresented artists, is considered the heart of Danspace’s work.

artists in street clothes sitting on blue chairs in the St. Marks Church space... everyone seems caught in a moment of joyous clapping
DraftWork participants: (L toR) unidentified artist , Nicole Mannarino, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Taylor Stanley, ms. z tye, and Qween Jean. Photo by Miranda Stuck

On September 23, we were presented with three works in progress by three distinctive artists of highly contrasting backgrounds: Nicole Mannarino, Taylor Stanley, and ms. z tye. New York-based choreographer, Mannarino, played experimentally with live sound and improvisation, intertwining instruments and dancers gliding across the floor.

“[DraftWork] presented a lot of questions about what we want our relationship with the audience to be and how we want to consciously be in relation,” said Mannarino.

One of her dancers, Reché Nelson, noted, “I enjoyed the opportunity to witness new works in very fruitful stages…The diversity of each piece was really refreshing.”

dancers in colorful rehearsal clothes spread around the dance floor, one has her back to us, another in profile seems in midst of a jig, in the background a dancer is caught in a jump, while a musican plays a keyboard on the floor with his toes
Nicole Mannarino and company share their work at DraftWork. Photo by Lily Cohen

Presenting their own solo work-in-progress for the first time, New York City Ballet principal dancer, Taylor Stanley, stepped on to the floor with ease and breath.

“It’s a journey towards freedom, which involves conscious awareness,” said Stanley, who comes from a history of perfectionism in classical ballet technique. “I’m allowing open absorption of information and personality, and speaking to myself.” Calmly mesmerizing, Stanley extended their limbs across the vast church space revealing their definition of personal freedom.

NYCBallet principal dancer Taylor Stanley in an expansive arabesque. They are  wearing sweats, a baseball shirt , and bandana and is sporting bare feet
Taylor Stanley. Photo by Lily Cohen

Finishing the program was Brooklyn-based artist, ms. z tye, who shared a spoken-word-based performance titled American idoll, which is intended to serve as a queer offering to both LGBTQIA- and BIPOC communities.

“This piece is a cry for help,” said ms. z tye, speaking with intention, grace and authority. Her co-performer, Qween Jean, sat on the American flag speaking into a microphone to respond to ms. z tye with praise and affirmation.

ms. z tye. Photo by Sara Lorusso

The beauty of DraftWork is its allowance of open, free-flowing conversation between creators and spectators. Watching, we are attentively engaged, eager to learn, and invested in the process. As for the artists, said Mannarino directly after her presentation, “Performing my work at Draftworks was exhilarating and an awesome challenge!”

the artists and the audience in the inspirational space of St. Marks Church  and its beautiful and multiple stained glass windows
Danspace's DraftWork in the beautiful St. Marks-in-the-Bowery church. Curator Ishmael Houston-Jones, wearing a light blue green t-shirt, is seated centrally, and talks as artists and audience members listen attentively. Photo by Lily Cohen

The Dance Enthusiast’s DAY IN THE LIFE covers the stories behind dance/performance and creates conversation. For more behind-the-scenes stories from NYC and beyond, click here.

The Dance Enthusiast - News, Reviews, Interviews and an Open Invitation for YOU to join the Dance Conversation.

Related Features

More from this Author