Monday, February 16, 2009

Undercurrents & Exchange: Performance #11

posted by Zach Morris

Today, President's Day, Monday Feb 16th, the Winter Garden was strangely quiet at lunch time. Gone were the droves of professionals, construction workers, and even the nannies (who've become our stalwart fans). Instead, the garden was sparsely populated. Sure, there were a few die-hard office workers who would walk through on their b-line to Starbucks. But we realized that almost everyone else in the space were "tourists." Some, were obviously tourists, either mulling around in packs led by a tour guide, looking at maps and guide books. Others looked like casual visitors perhaps from out-of-town, or New Yorkers who had ventured down to lower Manhattan on their day off. A totally different crowd then we've become accustomed to here.

And, as President's Day is technically not a work day, we decided to take a "day off" as well and re-stage one of the dances that we'd previously shown. This Monday, instead of creating a new dance, we restaged Tara O'Con's Performance #7 from February 10th. We were particularly interested to find out how the peice would be recieved by a completely different audience. The only thing that changed was Marissa Nielsen-Pincus's role was danced by Tara.

We were suprised by the stark difference in the reaction we got. On normal workdays, we've come to expect only a small portion of the Winter Garden's population to stop and watch. However, today, the entire garden seemed to freeze. Everyone seemed attentive. As opposed to playing to 30% of the Garden, we were suddenly playing to 90%. The end of the piece was met with applause from all sides.


The piece didn't change. It was the same work that appeared a week prior. Same site. And, to a certain degree, our audience hadn't changed. Not really. These folks were all still causal passersby. They had no more pre-existing affinity for dance or public work than our normal crowd that inhabits the space. The only thing that truly differed was why these people were there.

For them, the Winter Garden was a destination, not a default. They had come here by choice on a day off. And that seemed to make all the difference. For whatever reason, that distinction changed everything about how the work was received.

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