Photo: Dona Ann McAdams
Cowboys, Dreams, and Ladders was an improvisational dance work directed and structured by dancer and choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones and the visual artist and dancer Fred Holland. The piece was performed in a visual setting designed by Holland, which drew from the expansiveness of the Western landscape as well as the romanticized ideas of roaming cowboys. This imagery contrasted with more nefarious symbols of modern life, such as shattered glass and bottomless ladders, and coupled with stories, music and movement to create a piece that evoked both safety and danger. The primary performers were Houston-Jones, Holland and the dancer Yvonne Meier who were joined by a small number of other dancers at various points throughout the piece. Cowboys, Dreams, and Ladders was praised by critics at the time and it went on to win a 1984 New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award.