No question, Austin-based choreographer Deborah Hay has enjoyed an illustrious career to date: pioneering dance projects, prestigious fellowships, international residencies, even an occasional feature in The Austin Chronicle. But her latest project may be her most extraordinary yet: choreographing a duet for her and Mikhail Baryshnikov. This amazing opportunity grew out of a visit Hay paid to Baryshnikov's White Oak Foundation in February. While there, she presented one of her pieces to the ballet legend, who liked it so well that he invited Hay to create a piece for his company. Hay returned to Austin and was in the midst of negotiations with the company when she had a strange and wonderful experience in the studio: She composed an entire dance, start to finish, in one session. This never happens to her, Hay says; typically the creation of a dance takes her a year. The choreographer was inspired to write Baryshnikov and describe the experience to him. His response? Forget setting a dance on the company; just make a duet for you and me. So, come June, Hay will travel to New York and do just that. If you'd like to congratulate Hay -- or just express your envy -- a choice time would be next weekend, when she'll be premiering her new work BooM BooM BooM: A Dance Trilogy at The Off Center. Call 647-4897 for more information.
I might have spent all last week in Louisville, Ky., but I never left Austin. Our town was everywhere I turned, in the form of colleagues, artists, and relatives of same. To some extent, a little Austin was to be expected. After all, I was there attending the annual conference of the American Theatre Critics Association, to which my critical cohorts Michael Barnes and Jamie Smith Cantara of the Austin American-Statesman also belong. (Together, we've earned the nickname "the Texas Mafia.") And I was officially part of this year's Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville, representing Austin in a panel on criticism alongside such esteemed writers as Richard Christiansen of the Chicago Tribune and Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Examiner. But I hardly expected Austin to pop up in dinner conversation with Jon Jory, ATL's artistic director for 30 years, whose first words to me after learning where I came from were, "So tell me about these Rude Mechanicals." (Seems the Rudes had been in Louisville the weekend before for the festival and a few of them had accosted Jory.) And I never expected to learn that the new play by Jane "Talking With" Martin -- a giddy ribbing of modern American theatre titled Anton in Show Business -- had initially been set in Austin, until someone let the author know that River City was a bit too hip for the backwater satire she was dishing at it in the play. And I didn't expect to find a former Austinite starring in said play (Aimee Guillot of MTV's Austin Stories and the indie film A More Perfect Union). Or to find another local as an ATL Acting Apprentice (Travis York of the Salvage Vanguard Theater shows Altamont Now! and The Ravaging). Or to learn that one of this year's festival playwrights was the sister to Movements Gallery guru Andrew Baron (Courtney Baron, who contributed to this year's multiple-author play BackStory and once penned a piece called Clip for FronteraFest). Or to run into local director Rod Caspers (Big River) taking in the 2000 festival. Yet more proof that Austin artists are going places.
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