Neil Greenberg continues his collaboration with video artists
Neil Greenberg is perhaps best known for his award-winning “Not About AIDS Dance,” created in 1994 in response to the deaths of his brother Jon and friends and in which he disclosed his own positive status to his audiences. In this and subsequent works, Greenberg has incorporated written text as a way to humanize his performers, and provide entry into the dances’ deeper meaning.
His pieces are musical even when the movement is in silence, and narrative elements filter in through the projected text and through fragments of familiar music like film and musical scores.
Greenberg’s recent use of projected video is what he called “the latest evolution in my experiments juxtaposing non-dance texts with the onstage dance action. My aim is to engage the viewer with a layered sensory experience and provide multiple potential points of view, both figuratively and literally.”
“Partial View,” being presented at Dance Theater Workshop for two weeks, is a collaboration with MacArthur Foundation genius John Jesurun, who provides live video footage and prerecorded elements as well. Last year, in “Two,” a collaboration with video artist Charles Dennis, Greenberg used two cameras with live-feed projection.
“I was trying to find my way with video design, and Charles helped facilitate that,” Greenberg said. “I really needed to do that before I started this.”
This time, there will be five cameras, including one providing an overhead view, and two channels of projection. There will also be what Greenberg termed “far-ranging” found and new images, some of which, he explained, are “beautiful visually, but challenging culturally. They reflect our current world and it all adds up to create experiential meaning. John is really responsible for all the pre-recorded material and he has the final decision on all the live feed footage.”
All of the movement comes originally from improvisation—six hours worth—by Greenberg that was videotaped and then arranged for his four dancers—Paige Martin, Justine Lynch, Luke Miller and Colin Stillwell.
“Because the process is filmic, it makes sense to have the projection,” said Greenberg. “It’s all variation and no theme. None of the information is privileged. There is no sense of one way or a right way of seeing things.”
Music is a big part of the work, added the choreographer, who received a Live Music for Dance grant for his performances. The rich, acoustic, world-percussion score for “Partial View” was created by Zeena Parkins, who worked with pre-existing materials for the composition. Parkins also composed an original score for acoustic harp to accompany Greenberg’s new solo, a companion piece on the bill.
“None of the same movement material is used in the solo,” Greenberg explained, “but it refers to things in the quartet.”
His approach reflects the influence of his years performing with Merce Cunningham, his previous study of ballet and his appreciation for avant-garde theater artists, and of films as well.
“I like performance that walks the tightrope between looking at ‘the thing’ and, simultaneously, being ‘the thing,’ Greenberg said, in his bio. “I’m attracted to the daringly experimental and the theatrically powerful. And to subtle virtuosity, elegance and humor.”
There will be a post-performance discussion on opening night, April 6, with choreographer Keely Garfield.
In 2006, to mark the 25th anniversary of the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, Neil Greenberg will be remounting “Not About AIDS Dance,” in New York City in June during Gay Pride Week. To help support the project, contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.