‘Heard NY’ Brings Dancing Horses to Grand Central Terminal

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Published: March 24, 2013
Julieta Cervantes for The New York Times

The artist Nick Cave at Grand Central Terminal on Sunday.

It’s part of “Heard NY,” a site-specific performance by the Chicago artist Nick Cave, in collaboration with dancers from the Ailey School. Mr. Cave, known for his Soundsuits — costumelike sculptures that make noise as they move — has created the life-size horses out of colorful raffia. Each fits two dancers and rustles like a corn field when the herd “grazes” in Vanderbilt Hall or suddenly breaks into choreography, set to live percussion, steps from the main concourse.

The idea was to produce a dreamlike vision worth stopping for, Mr. Cave said, as people are rushing through the terminal. “You’re stopped in your tracks,” he said, “and then you do get on the train and you get home. How do you share this, how do you describe — just imagine, coming into Grand Central and you run into 30 horses? That’s when it becomes this transformative moment.”

The piece, a production of the public arts group Creative Time and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts for Transit program, has been in development for over a year. It is to include two performances daily, and the Soundsuits will be on view to the public as sculptures when they’re not galloping across the floor. This is Mr. Cave’s first public arts project in New York.

Nato Thompson, chief curator of Creative Time, said it fit with the group’s mission to make arresting art in unexpected places.

“Grand Central is an iconic public space not only for New Yorkers but for the world,” he said.  “We wanted something magical and family friendly that captured the spirit of a city on the move.”

On Saturday Mr. Cave and his choreographer, William Gill, met their dancers for the first time and began auditioning them to be either the front or the back of a horse. Don’t be disappointed if you’re the back, Mr. Cave advised. “Don’t think technique, think character,” Mr. Gill said. Mr. Cave added, “Don’t even think horse,” as the students sashayed and rolled across an Ailey studio.

They were looking for dancers who could bring personality to the suits. “Do you want to be a stallion, or do you want to be a lazy horse, a horse that just sort of trots?” Mr. Cave asked.

A dancer in a green T-shirt looked to his partner. “I think we should be aloof,” he whispered, “the Eeyore of the group.”

On Sunday they had their first performance, a public dress rehearsal in Grand Central. Passers-by stopped to gawk, cameraphones aloft, as the horses — heads standing eight feet high, rears bent over, yogalike — shimmied around a makeshift paddock in Vanderbilt Hall. One kicked up a little leg: a city pony, playing to the crowd.

 

‘Heard NY’ Brings Dancing Horses to Grand Central Terminal – NYTimes.com.