Monday, April 4, 2011

dance process journal #11: take it outside!

We took the new dance out for air this past weekend and it was so much fun!  It was our first day working outside, and also the first day that we had this many dancers (4 dancers from Philadelphia, and 3 from New York).  We danced our way east across Center City Philly visiting six different locations.

Even though it was our first time outside, we invited people to come and see us.  Since we didn't know what the weather would be like, or how well each location would work, I decided to play things by ear and post each location on my Twitter page shortly before we arrived in that spot.  I chose quieter, out of the way spots for our first few locations before going to areas where I knew we'd have more of an audience.  Between tweeting, directing, and trying to capture video, I felt that I was not able to do any of these things as well as I would have liked!  But overall, the day went really well.  It was truly wonderful to see the surprise and delight on the faces of many of our onlookers.  I was thrilled that some people even joined in with the dancers when invited to do so.  Unfortunately I didn't get any footage of the audience participation.  I will really try to get some of that next time!  I couldn't record nearly as much as I wanted to, as my cell phone battery was taxed to the max and I had to save enough power to tweet our locations... and I needed to observe the dancers some, too.

Here's a clip from one of our first locations.  This day was kind of like an open rehearsal, since we're still making the dance, so you'll hear me giving directions to the dancers.  We still need to work on some things but my wonderful dancers (Loren Groenendaal, Rebekah J. Kennedy, Darcy Lyons, Kumiko Nasu, Virginia Pedicord, Katherine Kiefer Stark, Barbara Tait) really threw themselves into this and did an amazing job.

We faced different challenges in each location.  Sometimes the dancers had nice, tall walls to work with but very little open space, and/or more cars, or more pedestrians.  In other spots they had more space to spread out, but not much in the way of a wall.  I would have liked to have stayed longer in each location and to have spent more time making adjustments in how we used the features of each different environment.  However, this day was mainly about our journey across town and trying out a number of possible spots, rather than exploring one or two spots in depth.  We'll definitely revisit some of these places.

The clip below is from our final location of the day and by this point, the dancers were exhausted... at least they were still laughing!  And they managed to perform once more, before we called it a day.  This was another one of our out-of-the-way spots but by the end you'll see that we still drew a bit of a crowd. 

In some ways I wish that we had gone outside the first time without announcing the locations at all, so that I could have focused more on directing the dancers and getting a bit more video.  I didn't get any video footage of my favorite two locations, historical landmarks where we had much more of an audience and some great audience participation.  We did have the wonderful Bill Hebert along with us taking photos all afternoon, so I may have some still shots of those locations to share with you soon.  In any case, I hope that we'll be dancing in those busier spots again.

What a fun day... and we'll be doing it again before long!  We plan to do several more outdoor showings over the next few months, both in Philadelphia and in NYC.  However, our next performance will be in a theater, in the Re:Vision Series in Manhattan's theater district on April 15th and 16th.  I do plan to be singing for both of those performances and it looks to be quite an interesting show.  Tickets and more info are available here.

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