Dance is different than the other art forms we’ve explored in our Classic Stories series. Like all art, dance comes from the experiences and ideas that filter through the artists’ consciousness to an outlet in their chosen medium. But unlike other forms, dance has no preserved manifestation: no book, painting, film, garment, meal, sculpture, no tangible product fixed and defined for a long period of time. The only medium is movement — evolving and ephemeral.
We met Ivy late on a summer day in the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, where she was developing Oxbow — her latest piece which would premiere at The American Dance Institute in Rockville, MD and then receive its New York premiere blocks away at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival. At the time, we knew little about contemporary dance or what it meant to be a choreographer, but from speaking with Ivy we learned about the fluid, collaborative nature of her method. She and her dancers build something from nothing, together.
“We bring our personal history and what’s happening in our lives at that moment.” Baldwin said, “and though our work doesn’t translate experiences literally, the day you have comes out in what you create, even if we don’t specifically acknowledge or interpret it.”
Over several months, these explorations take her collaborators from one place and then to another, yielding movement that they name, nurture, and develop, changing them one day to the next, right up until the final days before a performance. Even, in fact, after it has been performed.
“Abstract dance has the amazing ability to be the hybrid fruit of different ideas from each of the performers, and then to inspire still more diverse ideas in each member of the audience,” said Ivy as we were wrapping up the discussion. “It’s fascinating to give people an open ticket to that journey of personal interpretation. It’s why I love dance.” Baldwin’s dance isn’t one person’s view of the world. Instead, it seems to be a celebration of how many ways there are to view the world.