You’re not going to run into Kyra Sedgwick in the “downtown” dance scene

Last weekend I went to 2 dance shows, 2 very different dance shows and experiences. First up was a show at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), the first part of a 2-day festival featuring works by new and up-and-coming choreographers. If you’ve never been to BAX, allow me to paint the picture.

First of all, I have to trek to Brooklyn, not just downtown, but all the way across the river on that long subway ride that is always longer than I remember it being. Once I finally get there, and find the right street, I don’t know if I’m in the right place until I’m standing directly in front of the address, where the small print on 2 vertical banners informs me that the red warehouse-esque door I’m facing is in fact the entrance to BAX. Once inside, I walk up a winding industrial staircase to the theater on the third floor and grab my ticket, which is actually just the paper program. Then I walk into the theater, or “theater,” a large room with a wooden floor and maximum 11-foot ceiling. To the right there are risers and about 60 folding chairs set up. To the left is the stage area, complete with 2 interfering columns and a stark white back wall. Overhead is a grid-work of pipes for basic lighting arrangements as well as a semi-circular track for a variety of curtain placements. The tickets were under $15 and they passed around a collection basket before the show for extra funding for ongoing construction.

Ok, next day – Paul Taylor. I head to Columbus Circle and travel east. If the 5 green awnings don’t tip me off, the huge and ornate neo-Moorish façade let me know I have reached my destination of City Center. I walk into the lavishly decorated lobby area and grab my ticket at the will-call window. In order to proceed inside, an usher uses a sophisticated hand-held electronic device to scan the barcode on my ticket. At the door of the theater, another usher hands me a 24-page glossy Playbill and then escorts me to the exact row of my seat. Of course, I have just stepped inside basically an opera house: Baroque-like architecture, dripping chandeliers, golden trim, luscious red hues, 3 tiers of seating totaling over 2,500 possible audience members, the works. Needless to say, there was no extra collection basket passed around. At intermission, I roam the various levels and lobbies, watching people sip at refreshments and peering at pictures in the corridors marking City Center’s history. At the end of the show, the audience erupts and then stands as Paul Taylor himself enters onstage, and the enormous velour curtain falls one final time. As I leave the theater, with the thousands of people marching slowly down the aisles and pouring back out into the lobby, I realize that I am exiting directly behind none other than the actress Kyra Sedwick.

And so this celebrity sighting conclusively cemented just how different these shows were: a brass-tacks modern showcase of the “downtown” variety and a mid-town dance production with pomp and splendor. As for all of this, I’d like to make 2 points. 1) I love that there is this much variety in the art form of dance. 2) But, I don’t like the thought that someone of the likes of Kyra Sedgwick would probably never be seen at or even be aware of the goings-on of BAX, nor any of the “downtown”/Brooklyn, more experimental dance scene. I’m sure I’ll come back to a discussion that looks more into the reasons why Kyra Sedgwick would not be seen at BAX (funding, marketing, location, renown, etc.), why there exist such polar ends of the spectrum, and whether or not such a reality is good for dance. But for now, I will leave it at a story of one very interesting weekend of dance.

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