On Saturday I found myself cycling through the drizzling rain to The World Financial Center, an office building on the western edge of the former World Trade Center site. The occasion was Lisa D’Amour and Katie Pearl’s astonishing site-specific performance piece, Bird Eye Blue Print, presented in several rooms in an abandoned office for small audiences of 22 at a time. Upon receiving my ticket in the building’s lobby, I was asked to jot down my “point of origin” on a scrap of paper and wait.
Yes, it looks a little different. This year's list of Austin Critics Table Awards has been slenderized from 51 categories to 37.
So why are there fewer awards if Austin's arts scene has continued to expand?
Because the scene is shifting, not just growing. Creative production across the disciplines — visual arts, theater, classic music and dance — has filled out more equally. The roster of indie galleries and visual art happenings — along with activities at museums — has exploded in the past few years. And local dance producers surprise with ever new ways to intrigue audiences while the classical music scene proceeds at a steady clip.
In a world framed by imminent danger and constant environmental loss, how do people continue to live? Emily Johnson and her Minneapolis-based dance company Catalyst make a complicated stab at creating and populating that kind of anxious world in their evening-length work "Heat and Life," performed Thursday at Gallery Lombardi. With wit, off-kilter, yet aggressive movement, and small moments of simple beauty, the group confronted and nearly overwhelmed its audience.