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A Three Bend Day - Swing, Odissi, and more Swing

by Robert Abrams
July 9, 2003
Tavern on the Green
Central Park West & 67th Street
New York, NY 10023
(212) 873-3200

A Three Bend Day - Swing, Odissi, and more Swing

Robert Abrams
July 9, 2003

Today was a three bend day.

It started with the swing contest at Midsummer Night Swing. This was a contest that combined east coast swing, west coast swing, and lindy hop. As well as amateurs and professionals, and one jack and jill couple. Plus, this was the only contest I have ever attended where the contestants were judged by a licensed dermatologist (the contest was sponsored by Vaseline Intensive Care).

The second bend was an Odissi dance performance at SummerStage by the Nrityagram Ensemble (See also Rajika Puri's review). This was some of the most phenomenal dance I have seen, regardless of style. I know I have never seen more perfect stillness. So perfect, that the still dancer could upstage the moving dancer, even if this was not her intent. The Nrityagram Ensemble was masterful at any speed. The choreography was consistently interesting. Passion without narrative. I am sure they would describe their work as traditional dance, but to my eye they represent the best of modern dance. They claim that their dance represents and is inspired by the stone statues in the temples of east India (which are carved in distinctive three bend poses), but I think such an assertion is utter nonsense. It is more likely that the stone was inspired by their dance. True, this requires art to live backwards in time, but for some this is a normal condition. Merlin, for instance. The carving of stone is inherently an act of living backwards in time.

After this almost indescribable performance, I wandered west back through the park at night and was drawn to Tavern on the Green. It may have been almost 11 pm, but I found a raging party going on. A floor full of swing.

Competitive dance, performance dance, social dance. All outdoors. All on the same night. A three bend night indeed.

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