While studying dance at SUNY Purchase, choreographer Doug Elkins found something akin to a teacher-soulmate in Mel Wong. Both had a strong background in visual arts; both were of Asian descent. But it was Wong's investment in his students' compositions and the freedom he created within his classroom that struck Elkins most powerfully.
"He encouraged students from different disciplines to take his class, so it felt like an art salon or a latter-day Judson group. He wanted us to bring inquiry and would always ask really interesting questions; 'What were you intending to do? Do you feel you were successful? Was it worth doing?' These are still questions that I bring into the room with me when I work."
doug elkins choreography, etc. will perform at The Joyce Theater in New York City as part of FOCUS DANCE this Sunday, January 12, at 7:30 pm. www.joyce.org
Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of Amy Cassello