Exploring the intersections of dance, visual art and architecture, Open Encounter was a performance choreographed by Fernandes for New York’s Highline Park. The work investigated the site's history of being a working subway line, using its trajectories of movement to inform and make a new dance. In this work a quote by Lincoln Edward Kirstein, co-founder of the New York City Ballet, was central. In referenced to an argument with dance critic, Martin John, a proponent of the modern dance movement, Kirstein said, 'we have entered the ballet modern wars." This quote was published in Mark Franko's "The Work of Dance" in which the two –John and Kirstein– argued over the hierarchical differences between ballet and modern dance techniques. During this time, modern dance revolted against the formalities and rules of ballet, giving dancers new ways to express and move. In the dance for the Highline, Fernandes referenced this history, working with both Modern and Ballet techniques in tension with one another. Dancers moved across the Highline ending up in a collision. Through this encounter, a space was created in which the distinct forms of Modern and Ballet had to work together to find a mutual way to dance together, as one.
Voice, sound and costumes further enhanced and engaged the work. Kirstein's quote, "we have entered the ballet modern wars" suggests a social and political struggle, one that can be considered and questioned in today's precarious political moment. This performance used dance as a metaphor for social change, with the goal of creating hope, and an experience of joy and newness.
Dancers: Charles Gowin, Toni Carlson, Jordan Isadore, Oisin Monaghan, Simon Courchel, Mei Yamanaka, Doug LeCours, Madison Krekel, Ambika Raina & Nico M Brown.
Photographer: Liz Ligon.