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…
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.