Forget the web: Dance Ink is ‘a performance in print’
Magazine features glorious photos for lovers of dance
In a digital era, when ballet dancers have thousands of followers on Instagram (Sara Mearns, 44,600; Isabella Boylston, 149,000), Patsy Tarr, a publisher and philanthropist, has done something unusual: She has decided to publish a print magazine.
It started with a fall. Tarr was at the New York City Ballet and looking forward to that evening’s performance of “La Valse.” She dashed to the ladies room, slipped on the floor and shattered her kneecap.
“I ended up getting carted out of the theatre through the lobby on a stretcher,” she said.
She couldn’t walk, but she could read. Tarr, 68, who heads the 2wice Arts Foundation, immersed herself in back issues of her own much-admired publications Dance Ink (published from 1989 to 1996) and 2wice (1997 to 2012). Tarr, who over the past years had embraced digital media — she produced a series of dance apps with her collaborator Abbott Miller — said she came to a realization: She missed paper.
“I didn’t really enjoy the process of making the apps, because so much of it was out of my hands,” she said. “I don’t know how to write computer code.”
The revamped Dance Ink, featuring the dancer and choreographer Silas Riener on its cover, is mainly visual. (With a limited edition of 500, it’s available now through 2wice.org.) Edited and designed by Miller, it features photography by Christian Witkin and is divided into three sections.
In “Everywhere We Go,” the New York City Ballet principal dancers Amar Ramasar and Adrian Danchig-Waring are shown performing Justin Peck’s ballet of the same name. Eventually, they are joined by Riener, a former Merce Cunningham dancer and choreographer, who, in “Leap Year,” another section, improvises in and around Tompkins Square Park in the East Village. Finally, in “Changeling,” Riener re-enacts that Cunningham work from 1957.
“This almost feels like a performance in print,” Miller said. “It’s not just like, oh, that’s a nice photograph, but you’re actually watching something unfold.”
Text, by the dance writer Nancy Dalva, is sparingly used. (Of Riener, she writes, “through some alchemical ontological feat not of mimicry, but embodiment, he becomes Merce.”) Tarr said she had no plans to expand the writing component. “I honestly don’t have the desire to start with a whole new generation of dance writers,” she said. “I’m just interested in the dancing.”
In recent years, Tarr’s focus has strayed little from showcasing dancers from City Ballet and from the Cunningham tradition. “You know why we’re in Cunningham and City Ballet?” she said. “Because it’s my magazine and that’s what I want to concentrate on. For the first issue, one always starts with what one loves the most.”
Women are absent from the newly designed Dance Ink, but Tarr and Miller are hoping to redress that next time with an all-female issue, possibly focusing on a ballerina or modern dancer. (At the moment, they are planning to publish Dance Ink twice a year.)
The sleek magazine, which is larger than most at 10 inches wide by 14 ¼ inches tall, has a plastic cover; poster-size images are available along with a digitally printed mural of Riener, who is captured in poses from “Changeling.” It can be used as wallpaper. “Imagine at some dance school?” Miller said. “Even a performing-arts library. There are places for it.”