When Dance Ink emerged in 1989, it was a very different kind of arts publication. It aimed to reflect the contemporary dance community directly by reproducing new performance pieces that had been commissioned specifically for the pages of the magazine.
Twenty years after closing in 1996, the quarterly is returning, its revival “inspired by a new generation of dancers and performers and the resurgence in independent print media”, say its designers, Pentagram.
In fact, Dance Ink is relaunching with issue 8 under the steer of its original editor and designer, Abbott Miller, and publisher Patsy Tarr, who in the late 1980s first conceived of the publication as a unique performance space in its own right. The new-look magazine widens the physical scope of the title to include a series of posters and murals.
A year after Dance Ink ceased its original run, Tarr launched 2wice, a new bi-annual visual culture magazine edited and designed by Miller. As time went on the two founders began commissioning more performance-based pieces for 2wice, ideas that reflected back to Dance Ink. From 2011, 2wice used the iPad screen as a new kind of performance space via a series of apps.
On the Pentagram blog, Miller describes how returning to Dance Ink in 2016 feels particularly timely given the resurgence in indie magazine publishing. “In many ways, it helped lay the foundation for these beautifully produced, and sporadically published, art titles,” he says. “I kept wondering, what would Dance Ink look like today?”
Housed in a clear sleeve, the design of the magazine “plays with the effect of transparency of ink on the page, suggesting layers of performance and motion,” say Pentagram. “The format continues the tradition of 2wice’s later issues, which mainly consisted of a single collaboration with a photographer and performer. As with 2wice, the look of the magazine will vary with every issue.”
The new issue also features three of the most acclaimed dancers working today: “Amar Ramasar and Adrian Danchig-Waring, two of the principal dancers from the New York City Ballet, performing choreography by Justin Peck, the Ballet’s resident choreographer; and Silas Riener, the final dancer to join the Merce Cunningham Company, who danced with the group from 2007 until its official closure in 2011. The issue was photographed by Christian Witkin, a frequent collaborator with 2wice, working here for the first time with Dance Ink”.
The cover of the new issue features an image from ‘Changeling’, an early work by Cunningham, performed here by Riener. “First created in 1957, the performance was considered ‘lost’ and only known through a few iconic photographs until a 1958 film recently resurfaced in a German archive, enabling the choreography to be restaged,” Pentagram explain.
In the Dance Ink portfolio, Riener wears a Robert Rauschenberg-designed costume (Rauschenberg was a close collaborator of Cunningham’s) and recreates poses from the original photographs, forming the only contemporary images of the work.
Two large-scale posters will be produced from every issue, and a pattern of images or a single image can be installed as a custom mural (both shown, above). These are available in a collaboration between Dance Ink and Dodge Chrome and can be ordered via the 2wice site. Dance Ink is limited to an edition of 500 and can be purchased online at 2wice.org. See pentagram.com