Alexa West

    Alexa West

    Jul 5–Aug 12, 2024

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    From July to mid-August, artist, dancer, and choreographer Alexa West shifts the static nature of the exhibition space into an active area—an open creative process that the public is invited to observe and engage with. Trained in the Martha Graham technique and sculpture, both areas influence her practice, which is currently centered on performance and choreography. Smoothly merging her interests in movement and three-dimensional forms, at SculptureCenter she focuses on creating a new work. At various moments during the week, West prepares costumes, drafts a score, builds props, and rehearses with dancers. While the finalized performance’s structure and presentation are yet to be determined, this project focuses on the stage of development.

    West’s work in production reinterprets choreographer George Balanchine’s ballet rendition of Orpheus (premiered in 1948), itself an adaptation of the Greek myth of the musician-poet and his struggle to rescue his wife Eurydice from Hades. Drawing inspiration from the 1940s production, West shifts the perspective to Eurydice and the production’s Isamu Noguchi set design elements, which included a lyre, a face mask for Orpheus, and several large boulders that lift up to depict the descent to Hades. In West’s version, “Eurydice secretly desires to remain in the underworld, she loves hell, and she makes relentless efforts to persuade Orpheus to turn around.” Like Noguchi’s, West’s running repertoire of set designs, which have included tables, electric curtains, filing cabinets, a stack of papers, and a painter’s scaffold, often serve as other characters in a performance, affecting and determining the dancers’ movements. For her scores, West often collages various sound effects such as car honks, soft electronic music notes, doorbell chimes, pop song clips, voice recordings, laughs, weather announcements, or commercials. For this project, she will create a soundscape that engages with and is shaped by the lower level's distinct cavernous materiality.

    This performance study explores the site of SculptureCenter’s lower level in collaboration with the dancers. Together, they build movement sequences and character arcs with source materials interlaced with originally created phrases, informing the creation of the new work. It will not take on a narrative structure but will rather communicate the dancer's roles through movement quality and body language as a deconstructed narrative.

    West rehearses with dancers on Thursdays, Fridays, and weekends from 12-4pm.

    “Open Rehearsals” will be held on August 2, 4, 5, and 8 from 4-6pm, when West and the collaborating dancers will present a sketch of the new work.

    The dancers are: Sharleen Chidiac, Benin Gardner, Jade Manns, and Isa Spector.

    For a running schedule of events, click here.

    This project is part of Open Process, a new series where SculptureCenter hands over the lower level gallery to artists and collectives to work on an ongoing project or to develop a new one during the time of their exhibition. The program is an invitation to experiment with the exhibition form as an unfixed, durational, and dialogical process. Open Process welcomes unscripted encounters, learning opportunities, and collective exercises that open the institution to different facets of the artist's practice and provide a chance for an extended engagement with their process and methodologies.

    About Alexa West:
    Alexa West is based in New York City. She holds a MFA from Bard College, and her work was presented in the 2023 Performa Biennial. She was a 2023–24 Dance Research Fellow at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library. In addition, West is a co-founder of Pageant, a venue in Brooklyn that presents performances by emerging choreographers.