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In her own words, Brooklyn-based artist Anna Sperber describes her newest work, premiering tonight and tomorrow night at New York Live Arts as part of the Joyce UNLEASHED series, like this:

“In the world premiere of Prize, a wild, natural and driving kinetic power emerges. The dancers are navigating a psychologically viscous space within, outside, and between one another.
The force of the piece contracts and expands from a centrifugal group power and from solos that emerge from these highly organized crystalline formations.  In each solo, the dancer’s distinct approach to energy resonates as a powerful statement; some assertion of self – as though the dancer left a small trace of him or herself behind in the space.  At times with a startling and singular quietness and focus, while others are wild and unhinged with an essential agitation that bubbles beneath the surface of the work, and exploding it in a moment of fracture.”

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{ DIYdancer }: An earlier statement I read about Prize said it would explore “the delicate line between certainty and uncertainty.” Is that still true, and if so, how do you prepare to be uncertain?

Anna Sperber: I actually wrote that sentence before I began rehearsals for the piece. But my process is very intuitive and I always enter making a work with a certain level of clarity about what I am interested in moving towards, along with a good deal of uncertainty.  In Prize, I am interested in the frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you, the meeting place of what you desire from the world and what the world desires from you, or perhaps what it confronts you with. I think that the most powerful experience as a dancer, and as a viewer, happens when the act of dancing is approached in this frontier place between intention and attention.  I also allow myself to be influenced and inspired  by the dancers in the room. With this piece, four out of six of the dancers were new to me.

{ Dd }: Did you know anything about the other choreographers before being programmed together?

AS: Vanessa is a friend and colleague I have made through dancing and making work in NYC. I wasn’t familiar with Elina’s work before this festival.

{ Dd }: How do you feel about being part of a festival where all the experimental artists that were chosen are women?

AS: I am happy to be a part of a festival where all the experimental artists chosen are women.  But the fact that it is all women isn’t something that should strike anyone as noteworthy as there are so many more women in the field than men. So it is only natural that there would be more women’s work being presented.

{ Dd }:  Does it seem like the playing field of opportunity is being leveled?

AS: I wouldn’t say that, it doesn’t seem like the playing field in terms of this issue is being leveled.  It seems to me that in relationship to the smaller percentage of men in the field, that the percentage of men whose work gets supported and whose careers get attention is still disproportionately larger than that of women. This is really a large, important topic that requires a longer, nuanced conversation to address fully.

{ Dd }: And we hope to be able to have that conversation with you once your shows conclude!

In meantime, click here for tickets for Prize.
New York Live Arts, 6/3-6/4 at 7 p.m., 6/4 at 9 p.m.

Written by Candice Thompson

After more than a decade in Brooklyn, Candice Thompson is now an Atlanta-based artist and writer. Prior to dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet Company and ad hoc Ballet, she trained with Kee Juan Han at the School of Ballet Arizona and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She founded LOLAstretch Dancewear in 2000 and has designed costumes for a variety of theater and dance companies across the country. She recently received a masters degree in Literary Nonfiction from Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program and more of her dance writing can be found in the pages of Dance Magazine, Pointe, and Dance Teacher.