On an unseasonable chilly spring evening, the dance world came out in full force to celebrate Philip Glass, one of the greatest American composers of the late 20th century. On April 27, Glass received the highest honors given by Danspace Project for his significant contributions to American dance and his major impact on international art and culture. Born in 1937 in Baltimore, Maryland he studied at the University of Chicago, the Julliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud but gained his musical footing in Europe under the tutelage of the legendary pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and from his work with sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. In 1967 Glass returned to New York and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble and the rest is (art) history.
Fellow music pioneer Laurie Anderson and the painter Chuck Close each gave personal accounts of their respective creative collaborations with Glass. Chuck Close reminisced the early years of his friendship with the composer at the moment in the late 60s ‘before Soho was Soho, when it was just industrial New York [and] so much was shared then, so much was in the air.’ He made the point that ‘it wasn’t direct influence but a kind of back and forth. There were painters and composers – not just Phil but Steve Reich – and dancers like Trisha Brown. And we all showed up for each other. All Phil’s early performances were in museums and art galleries, for example. The music world was way not understanding.'
Now in it’s 35th season, Danspace Project continues to support a diverse range of choreographers in developing their work. Danspace Project’s Commissioning Initiative has commissioned over 360 new works since its inception in 1994. Support Danspance Project at: http://www.danspaceproject.org/support/gala.html