site non-specific

Part of what excites me most about creating a piece for the CAM (Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston) is the space.


I won’t know until August what art will be displayed, how much room it will occupy, how it will be arranged…  Theaters exist to highlight the action in the space; they are frames that visually diminish to accentuate what is going on in the space.  When we watch a performance our eye is instinctively drawn to the action in the space, and we naturally ignore peripheral architecture.  But what happens when the “frame” is art, making a statement as it exists on its own?  How does this shape my piece?  Suddenly, it’s a collaboration with every artist with a piece in the room.  In addition, people will be observing art in the museum as my dancers dance the piece.  This adds dimension to the relationships of the dancers with each other, with the art, and with the museum guests.

I’ve never been a fan of “breaking the fourth wall” when the audience is trapped in their seats.  I’m usually very uncomfortable when I can’t choose to move or shift my physical body and location as performers get closer, and closer…my inner-dialogue usually goes something like this: ” ahhh!  stay on the stage.  this is awkward, I can’t move, don’t come closer, yeah, good, go over there, awaaaaay from me…I hope they won’t try to get me out of my seat…or worse, SAY something!”  This may sound extreme, but I almost feel attacked.  But this work will be different, because the viewers can roam free, get as close to the dancers as they wish…or, as far.  The viewer has the control.

So my approach to this work is to create a score.  The work will not be site specific, but it will be site non-specific.  I am working with “landmarks” as opposed to blocking the piece for the site.  As a dancer, I don’t enjoy moving a piece that was created for specific dimensions to a place where the integrity of the work is compromised due to the space.  It ends up being an avoidance of the space instead of being a part of the space.  So instead, I’m choosing to leave the physical location aspect of the choreography–coordinates, if you will–as variables.   When I say landmarks, I mean that each time we dance this piece–in rehearsal or performance–we will have two types of them:  one, there are places in the score where I will instruct the dancers where to dance that section specific to the space; two, there will be sections where the dancers will choose where to dance that section in the space in that moment due to walking traffic, obstructions, art installations etc.  Theoretically, this piece could be performed in any space that has room to move and a surface for video projection.

About that—video projection–that’s another aspect of this piece that I’m quite excited about.  Yesterday I did a lot of filming for it.  But I can’t give you too many details!  We still have a couple months to go and I can’t spill everything.  But the concept is for the video to wash over the bodies, incorporating the live bodies into premeditated and edited video work.

That’s all for now!  Looking forward to teaching a master class tonight!


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