Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall
89 East 42nd St. between Lexington and Vanderbilt
Daily crossings at 11:00 and 2:00, tours at 3:30 through March 31
heard•ny rehearsal slideshow
heard•ny performance slideshow
Artist Nick Cave has transformed Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall into a unique and wonderful petting zoo like none other. The Missouri-based Cave, who makes colorful, life-size Soundsuits out of found and recycled materials, has created a menagerie of exotic horses for “Heard•NY,” which continues as part of GCT’s centennial celebration through March 31. On each roped-in side of Vanderbilt Hall, Cave has placed fifteen horses on saw horses. Each day at 11:00 and 2:00, the saw horses are removed and student dancers from the Ailey School march into the area and get inside the horse suits, two dancers per animal. They then parade around the periphery of the rectangle, allowing onlookers to take photographs and to pet them, before commencing a dance choreographed by Cave and William Gill, set to music played by a harpist and a percussionist. The horses stomp their hooves, proudly lift their heads, kick out, and form trios, then meet at the center, where the dancer in the back of the animal separates from the front, forming a collection of multicolored cheerleaders, evoking psychedelic Cousin Itts, who spin around, fall to the ground, and then get back inside their respective horses and eventually return the Soundsuits to their saw horse, although they no longer look like costumes but living and breathing horses taking a break until the next performance. It’s a great deal of fun, a playful riff not only on the perpetually busy and crowded Grand Central Terminal — where so many people are always in a rush, never stopping to enjoy the wonders around them — but also the concept of zoos themselves, where animals are put on display for the enjoyment of humans. Show up about a half hour before showtime to get a good spot, because it fills up quickly and often reaches capacity; one of the four sides of each corral is reserved for children so kids don’t have to compete with adults for a better view. Each performance, which is free, takes about twenty to twenty-five minutes and is an absolute charmer not to be missed.