Tuesday, June 03, 2008

HellGate Love Letter

This was the performance piece we saw a couple weeks back on the East River. Put together by the Alice Farley Dance Theater and produced in conjunction with the environmental activist group Solar One, it was a fantastic tribute to an earlier era in New York, and a great example of the kind of thing that continues to make the city singular. Loaded with poetry both verbal and visual, it started with a dance by these gals:

They were Spiney Star Fish, and they were accompanied by a couple guys who wandered around the crowd playing music through these crafty speakers hanging around their necks.

While this was going on, programs were distributed which included poetry by Lorca and Whitman, odes to New York - both the man-made and the natural sides. Characters named Gallus Mag and Sadie the Goat came out and delivered the bulk of the evening's text: a mytho-poetic incantation, reminders that these canyons of concrete and steel are surrounded by rivers, and right on the edge of the power of the ocean.

Here's Gallus mag in all his glory:

As you can see, the costume design, makeup and other visual elements (not least of all the park, the river, and the view of Brooklyn and Queens on the other side) were a big part of this show.

The crowd was herded up and down the path as different etudes emerged involving dance, text, and ever more expressive costumes. I was impressed by this River Cactus.

Dancers sprang from every rock, tree and rail.

There were many characters I didn't get good shots of, including this Sea Horse, but his unicycle costume is so rad I can't resist putting this picture, however blurry.

It even involved some tricked out kayaks.
And in keeping with the idea that nature is cyclical, it ended at the place where it began...
See those kayaks in the background?
Very cool event. By the way, the name "HellGate" comes from the Dutch word "Hellegat," which means both "Hell Gate" and "bright passage" and was the name Dutch settlers gave to the East River Strait.

Ok, I don't know why I'm not able to format this particular entry any better than I have. My html skillz evidently leave a lot to be desired. Hope you can make heads and tails of it. My main point is: All hail public art in New York outside in the summer!

1 comment:

Rachel Sousa said...

That looks like an amazing event! Quite the spectacle! Great pics Mick! You're quite the photographer. xo Rachel