Friday, December 7, 2007

Interpretations

Posted by Tom Pearson
[Originally published by greatdance.com]

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Zach Morris, Marissa Nielsen-Pincus (flanked by Mayuna Shimizu and
Donna Ahmadi), and Elizabeth Carena in "Strangers on Tong Chong Street"

Yesterday, we performed our first full run-thru of "Strangers on Tong Chong Street." TVB 8 sent their crew to film, and afterwards Zach and I were interviewed for the feature they are airing on their arts and leisure program this coming Thursday. You can check local listings and programming on their website: http://www.tvb.com/tvb8/b5/. The program will air throughout China, Australia, and Europe.

We are discovering for audiences and press alike, there is quite a bit of context and interpretation needed to qualify site-specific work and explain its role within the larger worldwide dance scene. It becomes evident from the questions we are asked that site-specific dance is often assumed to be a dance form itself, akin to modern, hip-hop, jazz, or ballet. We first have to explain that any of these forms can provide the movement vocabulary for a site-specific work, and that to work on site simply means that the choreographer engages with the existing architecture and topography of an area. Often we explain our vocabulary as "modern dance" rather than take the extra step of explaining the nuances between "modern," "contemporary," or "experimental." Suffice it to say that much of the work that qualifies itself as site-specific (from New York anyway) frequently uses a contemporary dance vocabulary. In the festival here, it seems to run the gamut, including jazz and even a site-specific rendition of "West Side Story."

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Marissa Nielsen-Pincus, Mayuna Shimizu, and Donna Ahmadi

Today, we ran the piece again for a press preview, and tonight we excerpt the work for the pre-event cocktail. Much of our existing space has changed for this portion as the cocktail takes place in the evening. Lights, booths, and stages are now occupying some of our playing area, so we've adapted to fit this "new" site. Tomorrow it all vanishes and our site will be restored to its original shape for the performances. Fortunately, there is flexibility built into our transitions. Today we got the first glimpse of how crowds may react as we push through them, run through their midst and re-shape their focus as the work progresses through the site. A moment of un-choreographed brilliance occurred during our morning run-thru. As the group reassembled into our trio section, Marissa, Donna, and Mayuna broke through to the middle of a crowd and began moving. The crowd responded by slowly billowing out and enveloping the movement in a wide, expanding circle. It really took my breath away to see the audience moving so responsively and organically with the movement.

1 comment:

Third Rail Projects said...

2Comments
Tom Pearson said:
Kelly, Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you are making site work as well. We'll have another few posts up soon to recap our performance experience, and we would love to know what your experience was like or how it compared/differed. We just returned to the US and look forward to getting some more thoughts up soon. Best, Tom
Added: December 10, 2007 8:35 AM | Permalink

Kelly Mayfield said:
Hey,

I've recently experienced the joy, terror, excitement, and reward of making site-specific work... your piece sounds fabulous & I'm glad to read about your experiences making, mounting & performing it. The solo footage (saw it on youtube) definitely makes me want to see the rest.

Smiles,
k.k. :)

Added: December 7, 2007 5:40 PM | Permalink