What Is The New West?
Is there a New West? What does it mean to make performance out of the vibrant culture of the evolving 21st century American West?
The West Coast’s influence on 20th century western dance is profound—from Californian mavericks Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, to the Seattle hook-up of Merce Cunningham and John Cage, to Anna Halprin’s profound influence on the Judson Church movement, and the impact of San Francisco’s Contraband on generations of international dance activists. The impact of artists born, or working in, the western states is remarkable.
As a new wave of dance artists emerges, West Coast dance is primed to gain greater attention on a national scale. What are the concerns of dance artists creating in the Northwest today? If in the past artists looked to the East and New York City for recognition, what happens when we aim our spotlight on how artists of the New West are carving their own paths?
In 1974, Robert Adam’s photographic project The New West became a landmark– forgoing romantic notions of the western landscape to depict an unsentimental, austere vision of subdivision sprawl and suburbia. How do we respond to the expedient changes happening in the west, now? Or, what do we hope the New West might be?
A range of dance artists, in their proposals for Velocity’s Next Fest NW program, weighed in on these lines of inquiry. The breadth of their insight is as expansive as the West itself, and their collective reflections organically shape a multifaceted answer to our question:
What is the New West?