Management for downtown dance-theater/performance artists (we really may need to just make up a term that covers this; suggestions? I guess Na’vi is already taken…) is not a simple thing. It’s obscure, there is very little money in it, and in a financial climate that threatens both artist funding and the capital that goes into keeping New York’s handful of downtown venues in operation, the future just doesn’t seem very bright, or steady.
But one man is about to take up the torch of what often feels as much like a social cause as it does an artistic industry. Ben Pryor (full discloser: we’re kind of BFFs…), who has been working to represent artists with Pentacle for the past two years, has decided to strike out and start up his own management endeavor, tbspMGMT. Yay!
Pryor’s first act/action as an independent rep. is AMERICAN REALNESS, a curated festival of contemporary dance artists (Gelflings?) that is being held at Abrons Arts Center (a venue that now can be counted on to present New York City’s edgiest artists), which coincides with APAP and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar (UTR) festival, a festival that has built a solid reputation for presenting excellent emerging theater work, but one that has also drawn criticism for under representing NYC’s dance community.
For AMERICAN REALNESS, Pryor has managed to assemble what The New York Times’ Claudia La Rocco might term “the cool kids” of downtown dance (Uruk Hai?), including Jeremy Wade, Miguel Gutierrez, Jack Ferver, and our very own Ann Liv Young. Specifically, though, these artists all seem to share an outlook that engages the body in performance in ways that are gritty, explicit, passionate (or its opposite, dispassionate), and generally queer.
I emailed Pryor about American Realness and his decision to go it alone as an artist representative, and these are some of the things he had to say…
Counter Critic (C.C.): What the fuck are you doing?
Ben Pryor (tbsp):
Re Defining American Contemporary Performance
trying to sell the work of these artists who are pushing, reshaping and erasing the boundaries of dance and theater.
Starting my own management entity with a bang.
Showing some amazing work, and maybe some tits and ass.
C.C.: How are you doing it?
By the seat of my pants.
Blood sweat and tears
C.C.: Need more info about AMERICAN REALNESS.
I love under the radar, which has been the best platform for contemporary work during APAP, but it doesn’t show dance. It became a dream of mine to create an “under the radar fordance”, if you will.
I am marketing the whole thing as a festival because it is a better way to put the work out there than a showcase. The goal is selling the work, but I am also trying to reshape international perception of american work. somehow they don’t really know the contemporary stuff is happening, not in a big way. I am trying to give attention to that. I am also trying to challenge american presenters (outside the 10 that do present contemporary work) to get with it and show some good shit!
This is also sorta the launch of tbspMGMT. I haven’t clearly established relationships with everyone, but I am trying to make it an organic progression.
Why these artists?
Cause these artists give me chills when I see what they do.
I love the way they think.
That they are reshaping contemporary work and it is not being seen outside new york and that is CRAZY.
Cause who doesn’t like calling out a whole industry of your peers for being lame and old fashioned.
Cause I like making a splash and so do these artists.
American Realness begins Friday, January 8 @ Abrons Arts Center and runs through January 11. Tickets to shows and a full festival schedule can be found here.