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ARTIST’S STATEMENT

“I began dancing at a young age, especially for a boy-child in suburban Minnesota in the 1960’s. Dance met important needs for me then, and has continued to do so throughout my life. Yes, dance provided me with an outlet for the expression of joy and other emotions, but never merely that. It’s also always been an ontological arena, a place of investigation, experimentation, even struggle—a space for living with the question of the body (my body, your body) and the self, for attending to the information living in the body. It’s a world unto itself, the potencies of the dancing body, springing (I theorize) from the matrix of experience underlying verbal language, from our first and fundamental perceptions of time, space, body, consciousness, me/you, pleasure/pain—in short, life. When I’m dancing, I know I exist, and I negotiate and give utterance to my particular existence. When I witness you dancing, I must negotiate your particular existence.

I'm working to reconcile the current, and necessary, interrogation of the social and aesthetic status quos with my love of fully realized, full-bodied dancing. I experiment to find frames in which dance like this can exist with validity. I also experiment to find doors for the audience into this fully physicalized dancing, often incorporating projected written text or fragments (or more) of emotionally-charged music to reveal my creative process to the audience, and to supply aspects of narrative. My hope is that while engaged with these, viewers might experience for themselves some of the potencies, the ‘meanings,’ of the dancing itself.

I’ve been explicitly looking at this question of meaning-making in dance. My use of extra-dance elements figures into this, asking the viewer to hold two or more different media together simultaneously—for example, live dancing and written text—and negotiate the poetics of perhaps not being able to connect them nor separate them, but to nevertheless experience them. Throughout, I proceed from the aesthetic stance of working with ‘what is,’ which for me includes the real bodies, personal histories, and relationships of the dancers onstage—with each other and with the audience—as well as the relation of these with the cultural/political/social context, the ‘what is’ outside the studio.

Recently I’ve been using projected video as a new progression in my experiments juxtaposing non-dance texts with the onstage dance action. This work follows that thread regarding how we construct ‘meanings’ (for lack of a better word) from the various ‘data’ we receive, and how these meanings are necessarily provisional, tentative, and temporary. It’s in this vein that, in Partial View for example, I’ve used live video from onstage cameras, as well as pre-recorded images, providing multiple potential points-of-view (perspectives, vantage points)—both figuratively and literally (thanks to the live video). Throughout, I’m obsessed with the particular kinds of meaning—sensual, perceptual, phenomenological—that dance can provide.

I find the greatest value that can come from dance often arises from the most abstract aspects of the form. As a result, I'm more interested in ‘doing’ than ‘representing,’ and, specifically, ‘doing’ with the body. I like performance that walks the tightrope between looking at a subject and, simultaneously, embodying that subject—between an analytical cool and heart-on-sleeve expression. And I believe in theater's potential to exercise our perceptions, perhaps giving us the skills to also experience life outside the theater more fully. ”

—Neil Greenberg

© Anja Hitzenberger
“Throughout, I’m obsessed with the particular kinds of meaning (sensual, perceptual, phenomenological) that dance can provide.”

COMPANY HISTORY

© Billy Cunningham

Dance by Neil Greenberg was formed in 1986 and has since been presented in over twenty New York City productions—at Dance Theater Workshop, the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, The Joyce Theater, The Kitchen, La Mama, 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project and Performance Space 122—and on tour.

DBNG has garnered three New York Dance and Performance Awards (Bessies), including choreography (Neil Greenberg), lighting design (Michael Stiller) and performance (Paige Martin). Twice the company has been honored as one of the 10 High Points of the Year by Jennifer Dunning in The New York Times—in 2003 for Two and in 1995 for Not-About-AIDS-Dance.

Greenberg’s choreographic philosophy is grounded in his experience as a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Company from 1979–1986, from which Greenberg has maintained the aesthetic stance of working with ‘what is’—which for him includes working with the bodies and personal histories of the dancers onstage and the acknowledgement of performance itself. Greenberg explores physical extravagance and flamboyance in his work, taking risks in the juxtaposing of clear choreographic structures and expressive, sometimes ‘over-the-top’ dancing. Though Greenberg’s dances employ aspects of narrative, often through the use of fragments of dramatic, emotionally-charged music or projected text or images, these strategies are employed to reveal aspects of the company’s creative process to the audience and to supply aspects of narrative. engaged, The hope is that the viewer, while engaged with these extra-dance elements, might experience some of the potencies, the ‘meanings,’ of the dancing itself. It is with these goals that the company creates and presents new work each year and teaches workshops in choreography and movement techniques.

The company has received repeated grants from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, The Multi-Arts Production (MAP) Fund, American Music Center’s Live Music for Dance Program and the James E. Robison Foundation, and has also received support from the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, Dance Ink Foundation, Meet The Composer’s Composer/Choreographer Project, Metropolitan Life Foundation’s Emerging Dance Program, New York Foundation for the Arts BUILD program, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, the Jerome Foundation’s First Light program and the Purchase College Faculty Support Fund.

Collaborations include those with Greenberg’s longtime collaborators, composer Zeena Parkins and lighting designer Michael Stiller, and with playwright, director and designer John Jesurun, composer Chris Cochrane, visual artist Cary S. Leibowitz/Candyass, writer and director Fiona Templeton and video artist Charles Dennis. In 1995 the company began appearances in John Jesurun’s serial play Chang In A Void Moon under the nom-de-danse Baby Hokaido and Bunzel Dance Group.

BIOGRAPHY

© Anja Hitzenberger

Neil Greenberg, recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “Bessie” Award, has been creating dances since 1979. He has created over twenty-five works for his company, as well as commissions for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and Ricochet Dance Company of London.

Greenberg came to New York from Minnesota in 1976 and danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1979–1986. He formed Dance By Neil Greenberg in 1986, and his choreography has since been presented in nineteen New York City productions and on tour. He is known especially for his Not-About-AIDS-Dance, for which he received his ‘Bessie,’ which employs his signature use of projected text as a layering strategy that complicates the performance moment while also opening doors into potential meanings in the dance. His choreography reflects the influence of his study of innovative somatic approaches to movement—such as Body/Mind Centering, Klein Technique, and Alexander Technique—and his appreciation of favorite experimental theater artists such as the Wooster Group and John Jesurun. Greenberg's works have twice been heralded as among the Ten High Points of the in The New York Times: his dance/video work Two in 2003 and Not-About-AIDS-Dance in 1994.

He is the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1992), the National Endowment for the Arts (1988, 1990, 1991–92, 1995–96), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1990, 1996) and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (1997), as well as repeated support from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Harkness Foundation for Dance. He received a National Dance Project Production Grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts and a Multi-Arts Project (MAP) Fund Grant for the creation of Partial View, a multimedia collaboration with John Jesurun (video designer) and longtime collaborators Zeena Parkins (composer) and Michael Stiller (lighting designer). Partial View received the 2005 Time Out New York Audience Award. He was awarded a second MAP Fund grant and a second AMC Live Music for Dance commission, both for the creation of Really Queer Dance With Harps.

His two commissioned works for Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project include Tchaikovsky Dance (1998) and a solo for Baryshnikov, MacGuffin or How Meanings Get Lost (Revisited) (1999). His works for Ricochet Dance Company (London) include Verbatim (1999) and P.O.V. [point of view] (2002), his first work including video as an integral element in the choreography.

He has also created choreography for John Jesurun’s serial play, Chang In A Void Moon, in which his company appears under the nom-de-danse “Baby Hokaido and Bunzel Dance Group.”

Greenberg is a sought-after teacher. He currently holds the position of Professor of Choreography and Director of the Dance Program at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, The New School, and has also served on the dance faculties of the University of California, Riverside, Purchase College and Sarah Lawrence College, facilitating classes in composition, improvisation, and technique. He has served as artist-in-residence at the University of Minnesota, George Washington University, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Greenwich Dance Agency in London and in Budapest and Taiwan under the auspices of the DTW Suitcase Fund, and has conducted composition workshops through Movement Research and DTW in New York, the International Summer School of Dance in Tokyo, and SUPA, a program initiated by Susan Rethorst and Paula Kellinger at Wilson College in Pennsylvania.

He has written about dance and choreography for Movement Research Performance Journal and Ballet Review, and participated in Movement Research’s Critical Correspondence program. In addition to performing his own work, he has recently performed in the work of Deborah Hay, Alain Buffard and Susan Rethorst at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, and with Vicky Shick at The Kitchen.

Greenberg served as dance curator at The Kitchen from 1995–1999, and has served as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts, the National College Choreography Initiative (NCCI), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Maryland Arts Council, the Movement Research Artist-In-Residence Selection Committee, the Princess Grace Foundation, The New York Foundation for the Arts BUILD Program, and on the “Bessies” committee.

LIST OF WORKS

    This
    Premiered 2014, New York Live Arts
    54 minutes, four dancers
  1. (like a vase)
    Premiered 2010, Dance Theater Workshop
    51 minutes, six dancers and three musicians
  2. Really Queer Dance with Harps
    Premiered 2008, Dance Theater Workshop
    53 minutes, eight dancers and three musicians
  3. Quartet with Three Gay Men
    Premiered 2006, Dance Theater Workshop
    11 minutes, four dancers
  4. Partial View
    Premiered 2005, Dance Theater Workshop
    50 minutes, four dancers
  5. partial view solo
    Premiered 2005, Dance Theater Workshop
    11 minutes, one dancer
  6. Two
    Premiered 2003, Dance Theater Workshop
    35 minutes, five dancers
  7. Construction with Varied Materials
    Premiered 2001, The Kitchen
    28 minutes, five dancers
  8. Sequel
    Premiered 2000, The Joyce Theater
    24 minutes, four dancers
  9. This Is What Happened
    Premiered 1999, Performance Space 122
    45 minutes, three dancers
  10. Part Three (Luck)
    Premiered 1998, 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project
    35 minutes, five dancers
  11. Part Three (Judy Garland)
    Premiered 1997, Taipei Theater, New York
    20 minutes, five dancers
  12. Part Three (My Fair Lady)
    Premiered 1997, The Joyce Theater
    24 minutes, five dancers
  13. The Disco Project
    Premiered 1995, Performance Space 122
    40 minutes, five dancers
  14. Not-About-AIDS-Dance
    Premiered 1994, The Kitchen
    50 minutes, five dancers
  15. A Truth Dance
    Premiered 1993, La Mama E.T.C.’s Annex Theater
    30 minutes, six dancers
  16. I Am a Miserable and Selfish Person (Kick Me Dance)
    Premiered 1992, La Mama E.T.C.’s Annex Theater
    25 minutes, six dancers
  17. Crux Eruption
    Premiered 1991, Harvard Summer Dance
    8 minutes, solo
  18. Destiny Dance
    Premiered 1991, Performance Space 122
    25 minutes, four dancers
  19. Branches, Swords, Flowers, Spears, Ribbons
    Premiered 1990, Dance Theater Workshop
    50 minutes, seven dancers
  20. Stage-Gun-Dance
    Premiered 1988, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church
    40 minutes, eight dancers
  21. Macguffin or How Meanings Get Lost
    Premiered 1987, La Mama E.T.C.’s Cabaret
    40 minutes, three dancers
  22. Morphine
    Premiered 1986, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church
    50 minutes, five dancers
  23. Amnesty
    Premiered 1985, Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church
    60 minutes, four dancers