Any summer weeknight, Hearst Plaza at Lincoln Center becomes a cultural crossroads. Teenage ballet students lounge on the sloping Illumination Lawn. New York Philharmonic patrons hurry past the reflecting pool. Theatergoers spend intermissions in the wire chairs of the lush tree grove.
But if the plaza looks a bit more crowded than usual this Wednesday and Thursday nights, it will be for good reason. Eighty dancers will prowl the lawn, climb a corrugated wall of the Metropolitan Opera House and splash in the pool, in the choreographer Mark Dendy’s “Ritual Cyclical,” a site-specific new work presented by Lincoln Center Out of Doors and the American Dance Festival.
“I’m probably the only person who’s choreographed for the stage of the Met and the side windows outdoors as well,” Mr. Dendy said recently with a laugh. A 30-year veteran of the New York modern-dance scene, Mr. Dendy has worked on projects from Julie Taymor’s Met production of “The Magic Flute” to downtown postmodern dance-theater subverting traditional gender roles.
In recent years, Mr. Dendy’s focus has turned to large-scale works, with a cast size to match. When flash mobs — seemingly random, but actually choreographed, mass public performances — became popular, “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, people are in need of this,’ ” Mr. Dendy said over breakfast. “We’ve discarded a lot of our rituals as a culture. We don’t have this kind of meaningful thing anymore, where everyone comes down to the watering hole in the morning and dances for the strength and courage to keep on going. We’re really disconnected from the earth, and that’s really true in this city.”
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