|Jamal Ari Black & Nkosinathi "Natty" Mncube. Photo by Isaac Oboka|
One of the pleasures of coming back to a city after being gone for a year is the discovery of places and events that have emerged during the time away. Sometimes it’s not clear if this spot had always been there or if it’s a new addition to the cultural landscape, but either way what happened Friday night made me happy to be back in DC. Near the Brookland metro and next door to Colonel Brooks’ Tavern, Dance Place hosted a performance by dancers, a program of four solos, that was one event within three months of free offerings that encompass dance, poetry, music, and visual arts. How fantastic to come back to the city and see that there are opportunities to engage with artists in settings that are not expensive or standoffish, but rather generative and conducive to conversation. The program of solos, all made and performed by current or former members of EdgeWorks, offered a glimpse into the diversity of perspectives embedded in this troupe. The small, unadorned performing space was surrounded by chairs filled with 25 or 30 attendees. The solos were eloquent and provocative; the performers’ words and gestures lingering long after they exited. The evening made me notice how valuable it is for choreographers to have colleagues with whom they can share their creations and engage in conversation, as well as how inspiring it is for audiences to come into contact with artistic processes within settings that are casual and open to feedback. As I left the showing I smiled when I realized how often distance actually helps us see a little more clearly: when we take a break from a place or a scene – both spatially and temporally - we notice what makes it distinct and move closer to appreciating its distinct characteristics.