In the late 1970’s ” release” classes began popping up south of Houston Street to just below Chambers Street in small and not so small live/work loft spaces. There are sooo few, if any, left in Manhattan. 110 Chambers Street was were Ellen Webb began her classes of lying on the floor and letting go. Very few other such alternatives were available to besides more strict and form oriented dance techniques. New Ideas had begun permeating through the dance scene of NYC in the mid 70’s, with Bonnie Cohen, Susan Klein, Colette Barry, Gail Stern, Jenny Kapular (BMC). Irene Feigenheimer (spelling please!!) had a studio on Laight Street, where small classes happened because folks were afraid of coming to Tribeca then! It was here I first met Art Bridgeman. I did classes with Jeannette Stoner as well at her Leonard Street loft, the work of Lulu Sweigard, I believe, and Open Movement was happening first at 99 Prince Street and then PS 122. Of course there was contact improvisation happening, growing, developing. I was not, at that time, aware of the Judson Movement. The Susan Klein School of Dance opened in 1979, downtown on Beach Street.
The floor barre work of Zena Rommett’s was an alternative at that time. Ellen Webb”s live work space, over a bar, became completely commercial, and so was passed on to Betsy Hulton, with a handshake from both Ellen and the bar owner (also a renter in the building). It was a space with no classes but became a place where dances and art and performance were being created – an affordable rehearsal space with easy access. Betsy moved to Italy, and Rachel Thorne Germond and I took over the lease, also with a handshake from the bar owner, and we continued to provide affordable space to work because it was possible. We continued working, making, dancing. Rachel Thorne Germond moved away for her MFA and the lease was then mine, (late 90’s?) also with a handshake with the bar owner, and the dancing creating performance work and Zero Balancing work continued. I also thought of it as a glorious oasis where time could stop, and things would happen. Art was made, dancing happened. We had no classes as there were many other places to participate in that activity. In 1999 or so, the bar owner passed away and the lease was then in the hands of the building owner. No more handshakes, and of course a doubling of rent. Still, manageable. From here I saw the Towers hit, felt the plane practically touch the roof of my building. I saw the flames and sounds, the screams; felt the buildings shake and tremble. In 2002, the space was no longer available – no handshakes, no lease. When I left I took with me the 100 year old Seth Thomas plug in clock, which had ticked away for many, going, going, going and incrementally time continued, much as the creative process goes – sometimes just going on its own. Upon my return from London, United Kingdom, in 2012, my first time there since 2000, the clock, (unpugged because I was away), began, to move slower. For three days, the 114 year old or so clock went along, dying just about at the beginning of the New Year. Fraught with metaphor this is (delve in, day dream, open up your mind.) I have stories and stories, superstitions and experiences, with clocks, time, watches and other similiar objects. In this situation I was simply reminded, one again, that everything changes, time marches on, creativity is a part of one’s (my life), every one and everything changes. Things and people die and others, born
Happy New Year and may it be filled with love, compassion, creativity,forgiveness and community.