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New York Live Arts 2017–2018 Fresh Tracks Resident Artists

New York Live Arts 2017–2018 Fresh Tracks Resident Artists
Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone

By Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone
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Published on December 7, 2017
Jessie Young; Photo courtesy of the artist

New York Live Arts 2017–2018 Fresh Tracks Resident Artists' Performance

December 8 and 9, 2017 at 7:30pm

Venue: New York Live Arts

Tickets: Start at $10, go to the NYLA website to purchase.

Fresh Tracks, New York Live Art's storied platform for early-career choreographers, will show it's 53rd season of artists on December 8 and 9. Nora Alami, Lisa Fagan, Brendan Drake, Alethea Pace, and Jessie Young have taken advantage of 50 hours of rehearsal space, along with mentoring and guidance from NYLA staff, to prepare for their shared performance. This weekend, FT residents present a finished work and in June they'll show works-in-progress. The Dance Enthusiast caught up with four of the artists who were able to squeeze in an interview during production week to ask about their Fresh Tracks experience.

Brendan Drake; Photo: Chelsea Robin Lee

Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone for The Dance Enthusiast: Why were you interested in the Fresh Tracks program?

Nora Alami: Oh so many reasons: the legacy, the demonstrated support for emerging choreographers. I was excited and eager for the opportunity to be in residency, which to me means having a sustained resource in which I could incubate, revisit, and craft my work and process. Fresh Tracks is especially compelling because it not only has that residency, but has performance opportunities within it.

Alethea Pace: Fresh Tracks has such an established history that it's been on my radar for what feels like forever. We have the opportunity to perform existing work, make new work and receive space and financial support. It's really well rounded.

Alami: In reading the list of alumni names, I felt a rush, like this invisible thread was woven by being in a kind of archive and dialogue with artists across time. Beyond that, what has really shaped my experience has been the professional development, and the relationship we've built with Juliana May, our artistic advisor, and the admin support from the rest of NYLA.

Lisa Fagan: I love the collaborative nature of Fresh Tracks: The idea that we form a cohort for the year and can turn to each other for artistic support. I feel like I can turn to my fellow artists for feedback and they'll give me real, honest and articulate critiques.

Nora Alami; Photo: Haim Machi Versano

The Dance Enthusiast: Were you nervous about anything?

Pace: NYLA is an institution that's widely recognized, so being connected to it means my work is visible to bigger audiences. That's both exciting and a little scary. Having the chance to show a work that I've developed over the past year allows me to feel I'm making the most of that visibility, and to feel confident.

The Dance Enthusiast: What are some of the challenges you've faced as a resident?

Jessie Young: I mostly have experience producing my own work — more or less setting up the context for how my work is viewed. I felt it would be a challenge and opportunity to see my work within the context of NYLA, to have the work supported (and challenged) by access to production in the theater space.

Lisa Fagan; Photo courtesy of the artist

The Dance Enthusiast: What has your process been like, leading up to this weekend's show?

Fagan: The show this weekend is of the work we auditioned with, so in theory it's finished. But in my practice, nothing is ever done. You can always go back and do more. These last few months have given me a second change to look back at the work I auditioned and go through it with a fine-toothed comb. It's extremely rare in the dance world to get an opportunity for slow, methodical, detail-oriented editing.

The Dance Enthusiast: How have you changed as a choreographer during the residency?

Alami: This program helped me zoom out from the choreography a little bit; to reconsider and pay attention to my overall artistic process. Who am I as an artist, what do I want, and how do I make that a part of my overall practice? How does who I am as an artist inform how I engage with the work and with the field, rather than focusing how I can fit into existing structures? I’ve been reminded of the importance of relationships, and that this field is a large community. I've been thinking more about where I'm precious and where I want to invite people in.

Alethea Pace; Photo: Darial Sneed

The Dance Enthusiast: What kinds of non-artistic guidance have been available to you?

Pace: We've had several professional development workshops in topics like fundraising, marketing, and tech. I've only ever learned this type of information experientially or through trial and error, so it has been extremely helpful to have the bigger picture laid out as I continue to question and challenge my own definitions of success within this field.

Fagan: As a Fresh Tracks artist, you're also included in the Live Core fiscal sponsorship program, which is something I've been meaning to do for ages but never seemed to fit in without the extra push. Now that I'm fiscally sponsored by NYLA, I can move forward with a year-end giving campaign, and plan for future financial projects that will help me find some sustainability in my artistic practice. That aspect of Fresh Tracks has made me feel like those long-term goals are attainable.

The Dance Enthusiast: What has been the hardest part of the residency?

Alami: I was surprised at how vulnerable I felt. When I first heard the news of being selected as a Fresh Tracks artist, I was elated. I felt validated and grounded in where my work was taking me, and so excited for the opportunity to invest over a sustained period of time. In the weeks following, I felt that with the visibility came expectation. It brought up questions around my identity as an artist, what kind of work I may be expected to do, and what would happen if I didn’t deliver to that expectation. As the process has continued, I’ve been reminded to pour this relative angst and questioning back into the work, and that art is a transformative process.

The Dance Enthusiast Asks Questions and Creates Conversation.
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