In November 1980, I received a phone call from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company asking that I represent its 1981 spring season at City Center. I’d sworn that I would never do publicity again: it was too consuming, too labor intensive, too many hours, too-too much. But Merce was one of my favorite artists in the world. What’s one season in a life?
Two weeks later I ran into Paul Taylor’s company manager on Broadway. He said that he’d been meaning to call to see if I might represent the Taylor season at City Center that spring. Taylor, another icon. And so began what has become a 28-year business.
The first office was small; in fact the whole thing fit on top of the dining table in my doll-size, fifth-floor walkup on West 73rd Street. Before long, the mounting papers, stacks of press kits, photographs and tapes had sprawled octopus-like across the living room and into the kitchen and bedroom. They were threatening to overrun the bathroom when I finally decided it was time for a move. A year and a half after that first phone call, the business was resettled into a one-room office facing south on 73rd and Broadway.
Inspired by all the space, I quickly expanded my staff to a total of three; but in five years we were desperate for more room. The new office on Broadway and 60th Street was very welcome, but the move took place smack in the middle of an AIDS benefit, Dancing for Life. This was a one-time only event at the New York State Theater featuring thirteen of the finest dance companies in the United States, united for a historic performance. The next night was the opening of a two-week season at the State Theater by the Martha Graham Dance Company, with whom we worked for eight years.
The list had grown to include the American Dance Festival (1981–1997), the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (1982–84 and 1998), the Arts & Events program at the World Financial Center (1986–1990) and the presentations of The Joyce Theater (1985–2004).
The Lyon Opera Ballet, Israel’s Bat Dor Dance Company, Ballet Rambert and the Hans Christian Andersen Award were among our first forays into international representation. Over the years, our clients have included Maguy Marin, Angelin Prejlocaj, the Royal Ballet, Pina Bausch, Ballet de Monte Carlo, the world debut of China’s Guongdong Modern Dance Company, Ballet du Rhin and France Dance, a collaborative celebration between Jacobs Pillow and the American Dance Festival.
During the mid and late 80’s, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk, Mabou Mines, Trisha Brown and Garth Fagan joined our client list, as did the national launch of the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Company (1986–1990) and the Arts & Events program at the World Financial Center, where we publicized everything and everyone from an aquarium show to concerts by Steve Reich, Honey and the Rock and Brian Eno. There were also annual orchid shows and a children’s book fair. Our work with Mikhail Baryshnikov began with the New York debut of his White Oak Dance Project at the New York State Theater in 1994, and continued through the building of the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
With the work continuing to grow, the piles of paper mounted appropriately – in heights to rival the Pyrenees. The number of file cabinets expanded; claustrophobia was threatening. Once again, a quest for space.
We headed south to West 57th Street, where we perched for seven years atop the Hard Rock Café and the Broadway Dance Center. The location was great, though the perpetual lines of tourists (Hard Rock) and eager teenagers (Broadway Dance Center) called for a certain amount of acrobatic skill from EJA’s nimble staff and clients.
Once we had settled into the new quarters, we promptly expanded again, adding graphic design and advertising to our list of services. We hired a designer to create press kit covers, print advertising, posters, post cards and brochures, as well as digital work in all areas.
In 1999, not surprisingly, we had to move yet again. This time we crossed 57th Street to the Fisk Building, where we remained for the next six years. New clients have included Twyla Tharp Dance, as well as Tharp’s Tony Award-winning Broadway show “Movin’ Out,” Lar Lubovitch and France Moves, a festival of 10 contemporary French dance companies that performed in venues throughout New York City.
And now we sit on the corner of Broadway and Houston in the Cable Building. One of our favorite times in the workday are those odd moments of reverie when suddenly, the gleeful burst of a new idea. It is then that my wonderful staff and I are very glad I said yes to the Cunningham company way back when.