Beth Soll, Dance Artist

Resident at Westbeth since 2017

Dancing at Westbeth

I was once a small-town girl, and for years I was intimidated by what I now wholeheartedly welcome as the grandeur, vitality, and unpretentious toughness of New York. In 2017, after 17 years on the waiting list, I was accepted by Westbeth, and I moved in. I had first come to Westbeth in 1979 when one of my dancers, with the help of some important people, made it possible for my company to come from Boston and present Conversations in a Foreign Language in the Cunningham Studio. We arrived in the evening and were met by the late Craig Miller, who was just beginning his illustrious career as a lighting designer. He found extraordinary ways to illuminate our dance, which I had started to work on during a recent, conversation-filled visit to England, France, and Hungary. To my surprise, people, including Ellen Marshall, a cousin by marriage, came to see us, and there was a review in the New York Times!

Subsequently, I sometimes ventured cautiously into the wild city of the 1980s. I often stayed here with Ellen and got used to the sirens and the deafening sounds of vehicles careening over the cobblestones. My company presented many evenings in the Cunningham Studio. Merce twice broke contract with us, but we adapted because, after all, it was his place. In 2018, we presented Windows: Visions and Ordinary Rituals in what is now the Graham Studio. I’ve performed in many theatres here and in faroff places, and the studio remains one of my favorite venues.

I had several friends and colleagues in Westbeth when I moved here; since then, I’ve met many other extraordinary artist-residents. I’ve attended dozens of gallery shows and performances, and I’ve wandered amazed but a little lost through the building’s quiet, gray hallways. Formerly, I lived uptown near the lovely Heather Garden. Now, because of the virus, I’m rehearsing a new dance by the Hudson River, which sometimes feels–because its beauty and shimmering light are so near–like a part of Westbeth, and I am happy to be here.

Photo credit: Barry Hetherington

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