Location: Floor Five, Kaufman Gallery
Cecil Taylor has worked with some of the most prominent dancers of his generation, and frequently compares his physical performance style to the movements of modern dance. Taylor’s important collaborators Cheryl Banks-Smith, Dianne McIntyre, Heather Watts, and Min Tanaka convene for this afternoon conversation on dance, jazz, and improvisatory movement.
About the panelists
Cheryl Banks-Smith is Associate Professor of Dance at Pasadena City College and a former dancer who toured with Taylor in the 1980s.
Dianne McIntyre is an Emmy-nominated choreographer, dancer, and founder of the troupe Sounds in Motion, which performed with Taylor in the 1970s and 1980s, notably in “Eye of the Crocodile” (1982) at Judson Church.
Heather Watts was a principal ballerina with the New York City Ballet and a protégé of George Balanchine who performed with Mikhail Baryshnikov in “Tetra Stomp: Eatin’ Rain in Space,” composed by Taylor.
Min Tanaka is a renowned Japanese dancer and choreographer who performed with Taylor across Japan in the late 1980s; at a site-specific performance for the Guggenheim in 1994; and at a ceremony recognizing Taylor’s receipt of the 2013 Kyoto Prize.
Free with Museum admission.
Cheryl Banks-Smith has a long career in the dance arts as a performer, choreographer, dance educator, improviser and interdisciplinary arts "explorer." She is a former dancer and vocalist with renowned jazz innovator, Sun Ra and his Intergalactic Myth Science Arkestra, and she appears with the Arkestra in film television and on sound recordings. She also danced for many years with Dianne McIntyre’s New York based modern dance company, Sounds in Motion. She has worked as an independent artist, choreographer, and teacher in the USA and abroad, touring throughout Europe, Japan, Mexico, and Africa, and has collaborated in many interdisciplinary projects with poets, writers, theatre and visual artists and with many prominent musician/composers of the contemporary Jazz and New Music/Free Improvisers circuit. A few of her collaborators include Cecil Taylor, Joseph Jarman, Peter Kowald, James Newton, Jeanne Lee, Ran Blake, Joan la Barbara, Joelle Leandre, Irene Schweitzer, Vinny Golia, Lawrence "Butch"Morris, Mwata Bowden and the Association of Creative Musicians, Ntozake Shange, Senga Nengudi, Ulrike Arnold, and others. In Los Angeles she has appeared with the Decisive Instant Ensemble, the Ellen Burr Artist Collective, Trio 919 and in several Open Gate multi-disciplinary events. She is an Associate Professor of Dance at Pasadena City College.
Dianne McIntyre, a Cleveland native, began her professional New York career in Harlem where she founded her Sounds in Motion company of dancers and musicians. Her choreography, encompassing contemporary dance, theatre, film and television, includes collaborations with icons like Olu Dara, Max Roach, Butch Morris, Regina Taylor, Lester Bowie, and Ntozake Shange. For film and television she choreographed Beloved; Langston Hughes: The Dream Keeper; and Miss Evers' Boys for which she received an Emmy nomination.
Heather Watts joined New York City Ballet in 1970 and was one of the last of the famed Balanchine Ballerinas. Watts worked closely with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins at NYCB, and was an acclaimed international ballet star retiring from the stage in 1995 in a gala performance at Lincoln Center. She was one of the first artists to tirelessly advocate for changes in AIDS policies in the 1980’s, and was a founding member of Gods Love We Deliver. Watts is a contributing cultural editor at Vanity Fair magazine. As an educator, Watts has taught worldwide, and works on every level from coaching the professional dancers of today to training teachers. She has created academic courses on Balanchine’s life and work at Harvard University, was the Class of 1932 Visiting Lecturer in Dance at Princeton University for 2012, and has created courses for the Dance Education Laboratory at the 92nd St Y and Balanchine residencies for UCSanta Barbara. Watts is a fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts, New York University’s new initiative since fall 2014. She has received numerous awards for arts education and dance, and in 2013, Watts received an honorary Doctorate from Hunter College.
Min Tanaka is a renowned Japanese dancer and choreographer whose unique style incorporates a variety of movement techniques and draws consistent inspiration from changes in the natural world. Trained in modern dance, a dominant style in postwar Japan, Tanaka left the Japanese Contemporary Dance Association in the early 1970s to pursue his own research and performance practice. Often referred to as the "naked dancer," in the 70s Tanaka performed improvisational dances without clothes, stage, or set, in public spaces across Japan and overseas, often several times a day. From 1982–86, Tanaka studied under Butoh-founder Tatsumi Hijikata, and has been widely considered a leading interpreter of the genre ever since. Following Hiikata’s death in 1986, Tanaka moved to the countryside outside Tokyo, where he established Body Weather Farm, a cooperative space for dancers to explore the history of dance in relation to farming life in Japan. Tanaka often refers to his increasingly collaborative dance practice as "Body Weather," a form of expression conveyed through a body that is absorptive, capricious, and "omnicentral"—responsive to environmental stimulis.