Beauty Is Ex­pe­ri­ence: Danc­ing 50 and Be­yond

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

The pop­u­lar im­age of a pro­fes­sional dancer is of a lithe young body pirou­et­ting en pointe, with per­fect poise and bal­ance. Many dancers take up the art as chil­dren, and re­tire­ment can be a real­ity for some by their early thir­ties. But that does not mean the end of en­gage­ment with move­ment, form, or even per­for­mance. As Em­maly Wieder­holt writes in the in­tro­duc­tion to her book Beauty Is Ex­pe­ri­ence: Danc­ing 50 and Be­yond, “Dance is not an ac­ro­batic sport to be dis­carded when the body be­gins to lose agility. Dance is much deeper.”

Wieder­holt, a New Mex­ico na­tive who danced pro­fes­sion­ally in San Fran­cisco, worked with pho­tog­ra­pher Gre­gory Bart­ning to col­lect the sto­ries and images of 54 dancers, male and fe­male, be­tween the ages of fifty and ninety-five in San Fran­cisco, Los An­ge­les, Port­land, and Seat­tle. Many of the sub­jects teach dance or work as chore­og­ra­phers; all still have some ver­sion of an ac­tive prac­tice they would not con­sider giv­ing up un­less they were to be­come im­mo­bi­lized. Wieder­holt ex­plores their ca­reers, asks how they first came to dance, and dis­cusses how their mo­ti­va­tions have changed over time. “I used to crave the per­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. The adren­a­line and thrill of it. The chal­lenge of it,” says Tere Math­ern, the artis­tic di­rec­tor of Con­duit Dance, Inc. “That has be­come less of an in­ter­est over time. What mo­ti­vates me more now is just the work it­self. Al­ways there’s the work, rigor and want­ing to ex­plore a new idea that’s pulling me.”

“I can’t imag­ine liv­ing with­out it,” says Carla Luna, di­rec­tor of the Dance Arts Academy. “That is fore­most on my mind. I want to be able to dance un­til I die.” Strangers Col­lec­tive hosts a book launch for Beauty

Is Ex­pe­ri­ence at 5 p.m. on Satur­day, June 17, at No Land Gallery (54½ E. San Fran­cisco St.). Wieder­holt speaks and signs books; lim­ited-edi­tion prints of Bart­ning’s pho­to­graphs are for sale at the event. Visit www .stranger­sart­col­lec­tive.com. — Jen­nifer Levin

Post­mod­ern dance pi­o­neer, teacher, and chore­og­ra­pher Anna Hal­prin

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