Five Questions for Ursula Eagly and Ivy Baldwin

Unfortunately I got superbusy and did not post this BEFORE the New Museum show, which I enjoyed a lot. So if you missed it, here’s an interview that’ll tell you more about these two exciting, emerging choreographers…

abby and friend from a dance by ursula eagly

abby and friend from a dance by ursula eagly

 1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

Ivy Baldwin: I grew up in a small southern town in north Florida called Madison. After high school I attended the North Carolina School of the Arts and upon graduating moved to NYC to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for graduate school. Thanks to the help of a good friend I produced the very first Ivy Baldwin Dance concert at the Cunningham Studio after graduating from NYU in 1999. I have been making dances for as long as I can remember, and according to my parents, bossing people around and making them do my dances long before that. I always new I would end up in NYC (now I realize I really meant specifically Brooklyn!).

Ursula Eagly: I grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana. I studied at Princeton and came in to New York to see art on weekends – fell in love with it.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

IB: There are many visual artists, choreographers, composers and filmmakers whose works have inspired and influenced me over the years, but if I think back to childhood I remember very distinctly seeing a local college production of Cabaret and being barely able to contain my excitement. The next day I set about remounting it on my friends on the playground and we performed it for the rest of our 4th grade class. I spent that whole year restaging and choreographing plays and musicals on other 9 year olds during recess.

UE: Fred Sandback’s show at the Dia Center in Chelsea in 1996. I wandered in off the street, a completely blank slate, and for a minute didn’t see anything at all in the gallery. Then I noticed a string, and another, and finally I saw the sculptures, which are these minimalist string sculptures that divide up the space in incredible ways. It’s austere stuff, but my experience of it was pure magic, I felt like a child.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

IB: I wish I had more self-confidence (for obvious reasons), the culinary skills of a great chef so that I could make truly astounding meals for my friends and family, and the voice of an opera singer, just because I love to sing.

UE: for the past few years I’ve been working with my performers on creating the sound for the piece, mostly through humming. There’s more potential there, but I haven’t had the tools to go deeper.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

IB: I teach private Pilates Mat lessons, contemporary dance and composition classes, and receive commissions to make new work on college/university dance students. A “normal” day while I’m in NYC might include teaching a few Pilates clients, doing lots of administrative work for my company, Ivy Baldwin Dance, and if making a new piece, going to rehearsal for three to four hours.

UE: I’m not really making a living at the moment. For many years, I worked as an arts administrator, and my days involved rehearsal and office work. I enjoyed admin, engaging in the field in a different way than as an artist, but my days were incredibly long and I spread myself thin.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

IB: Really I have made a life choice of art over traditional work, not that making art, and surviving as an artist is not a lot of hard work. Why? Because I love it, can’t imagine doing anything else, and I could never sit at a desk all day. The outcome is apparently a permanently small bank account but also a wealth of amazing life experiences, friendships, travel, and a healthy dose of worthwhile personal struggle.

UE: I’m not making a living right now because of just such a conflict. I’d been thinking about the next step in my living-making life, when a major work event was scheduled to coincide with a one-month tour that I was performing in. The conflict galvanized me to make the leap to the next thing without knowing what it was going to be. I can’t yet report on the outcome, but this transition time has been my dream life as an artist. I’m cherishing every unrealistic day.

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