Stanley Love, a choreographer who helped shape New York’s downtown performance scene since the mid-1990s with large-scale, vibrant performances that he set to pop music, has died. He was 49.
Reached by ARTnews, a representative for the Kitchen, a nonprofit space in New York where Love performed throughout his career, confirmed the news. No cause of death was given.
After moving to New York from Iowa to attend the Juilliard School, Love founded his eponymous Stanley Love Performance Group in 1992. That year he debuted a program of short works, titled “Hello, Cruel World,” at the Cunningham Dance Studio that would prove to be a harbinger of work to come. In a review for the New York Times, Jack Anderson observed, “Yet even Mr. Love’s most bizarre and campy sequences suggested that he is infatuated with movement. And that kind of passion should grip every young choreographer.”
Love, who was born in 1970, first performed at the Kitchen in 1995, as part of its Dance and Process program, a long-running series for new work. Three years later, Love would premiere his work coven with an x at the Kitchen, in which he aimed to create a dance “that connects ten levels of meaning at once,” he wrote. In 2017, his dance troupe returned to the Kitchen to stage a commissioned work, Brings Swings, Sings Chimes Rings Wings, Flings Zingahlings-Spirit Party Things.
In a statement posted to its website, the Kitchen said, “In recent years, Love often would turn up at our offices just to say hello with a smile and a hug. We will miss him greatly, and we send our deepest condolences to all those who were touched by his radiant spirit and his singular art.”
Stanley Love Performance Group has staged shows at MoMA PS1, Participant Inc., Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Movement Research at Judson Church, and the 2012 Whitney Biennial, among other New York venues.
The troupe performed in the Whitney Biennial as part of a multi-day performance work captured on video by Charles Atlas. In a 2015 interview with ARTnews that touched on that dance piece, multimedia artist Glen Fogel said of Love, “He was able to communicate simultaneously a deep love of the pop culture and a total disdain for it.”
For Love, dancing was at the heart of life. As he said in a 2017 interview with Movement Research Performance Journal, “someone who dances is a dancer. All you have to do to dance is dance. It’s that simple. You don’t have to have a degree. You don’t need permission. All you have to do is dance. Period. That’s dancing. Dancing is dancing.”
Update, 7:20 p.m.: An earlier version of his post misstated Love’s age; he was 49, not 48.