The impetus for this series of conversations between a visual artist and a choreographer comes directly from my recent collaborative work with a choreographer as part of Norte Maar’s CounterPointe10. In this unique project a choreographer is paired with a visual artist to create together over two months a dance performance that integrates the two disciplines into a cohesive vision. We start here with an introductory conversation between the founders and directors: Julia K. Gleich and Jason Andrew.
What is the genesis of your collaboration?
Julia: Amazingly, Jason and I have been collaborating since 1993. I don’t think I was fully conscious of this at the time. I was running a student collaboration group at the University of Utah where I was working towards my MFA in Ballet. One semester at 7:45am as I was setting up to introduce beginning ballet, Jason walked through the door to attend the class. He was striking with curly red hair and glasses, long strong legs, smart, curious, an athlete at the U. After a few classes he asked if he could come watch my rehearsals and draw. He has been part of my creative process ever since. He knows my work like no one–sometimes I think better than me. I have brought skills I developed as a faculty member at London Studio Centre where I also ran the Design for Dance collaborations with Central St. Martin’s students. We also collaborate on productions and promotion, on writing and academic presentations. Art, life, collaboration are intertwined and inseparable. I bring the dance expertise and he brings the visual art, and we cover quite a lot of ground in between.
Jason: In many ways, CounterPointe has become my way to continue to work artistically and collaboratively with Julia! It’s also become the signature performance opportunity in New York–presenting new choreography while highlighting the artistic collaboration.
This was the 10th anniversary of CounterPointe. What is your accumulated takeaway from these collaborations between visual artists and choreographers/dancers?
Jason: My takeaway from this performance series is really more about the process. It’s exciting each season to select and pair up a new group of talented choreographers and visual artists. Many of the artists have never had the opportunity to see their work realized on a large stage, and many of the choreographers have never seen their movement ideas through the eyes of a visual artist. CounterPointe remains pivotal in its mission to spark new cross-disciplinary conversations. Now that we’ve made it to the 10th anniversary, we can see the value of this program historically. For many of the choreographers and visual artists, CounterPointe marks a pivotal change in the direction of their art.
Julia: I have always fantasized about re-creating the artistic energy of Ballet Russe under Diaghilev. This period was a group of artists and choreographers, dancers and composers having conversations and enacting new artistic ideas in dance collaborations. With Jason, we had the possibility to bring these ideas to fruition in a small scale venue that allowed for the creative process to feel present in the performance of a new collaborative work. Everyone seems to be enriched by the experience, including me. It is possible to create art without there being a hierarchy of form, without knowing what will result from the collaboration. And in the same effort we raise up women and continue to explore the genre of dance that incorporates pointe work.
The main takeaway is “keep going!”
About Julia: Julia K. Gleich has been making dances for 25 years, investigating the relationships between the traditional and contemporary with a particular focus on collaboration. After 15 years on conservatory faculties at Laban and at London Studio Centre in London, UK she gave up institutional academia, returning to NYC to independent creation and to work with longtime artistic partner Jason Andrew. Together they co-founded Norte Maar and produce the CounterPointe collaborations, supporting new work by women for pointe created in collaboration with visual artists, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023. Gleich Dances has recently been in residence at the University of Buffalo and at The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore. Her book chapters about canon and the margins of ballet with collaborator Molly Faulkner, are published in (Re:) Claiming Ballet and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet. Gleich teaches open classes at Peridance Center in NYC and co-manages Artist Estate Studio.
About Jason: Jason Andrew is an independent scholar, curator, and producer. Specializing in the field of Post War American Art, Mr. Andrew has over two decades of experience servicing the studios of artists and the estates of artists in the management, cataloguing, and promotion of their art and the stewardship of their legacies. He is a Founding Partner at Artist Estate Studio, LLC. Beginning with the management of the Estate of the Abstract Expressionist Jack Tworkov, Andrew has built a consultancy agency that recognizes the importance of promotion and preservation in an ever-changing artworld landscape dominated by taste and tastemakers. In 2004, Mr. Andrew along with choreographer Julia K. Gleich co-founded Norte Maar, a non-profit with a mission to encourage, promote and present collaborative projects in the arts. Mr. Andrew currently lives in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.