Tuesday, September 20, 2011

dance process journal #19: lots of Philly Fringe footage

I thought about posting more than one full performance from our Fringe shows, since the dance was different each time -- but I've decided that might be a bit much!  So I'll just post one full performance, and two clips of highlights taken from several shows.

In this first video you can see the whole dance from beginning to end.  I really enjoy watching the dancers taking their individual movement phrases across the grass in the beginning of the piece, and the audience participation at the end of this one was especially good.

Next, a clip of audience moments from several shows.  I can never watch these without smiling... thanks to all who watched and danced with us!

While looking through the footage, I've continued to think about why I enjoy watching this dance and what I see in it.  The movement is repetitive and ever-changing.  There's not really a story, even though there are some dramatic and thematic elements.  In large part, this piece is "about" its movement qualities, its dynamic shifts, its continual variation of levels, pathways and points in space.  The dancers struggle with each other, with themselves, and with the environment but it is an abstract struggle.  For me the dance embodies something about living in the moment and adapting to changes.  At times I am simply observing the strength, beauty, creativity and commitment of the dancers.  They are all strong and interesting movers and maintain a very consistent focus throughout these performances.  They dance with strong intention and allow their emotional expression to happpen in response to the movement, rather than imposing preconceived emotions.  I like that the dancers come to each tree, bench, or dance partner and just have to find a way to do the task.  They don't know how they will achieve it until they get there; they just have to go for it.

In these Washington Square performances, perspective and distance affect the dance more than they have done in other environments.  The effects of distance become even more noticeable when framed by the camera's lens.  At times some dancers are in closeup when others are quite far away.  On the second day there were many more birds flying through the space.  The birds, wind, and moving trees are interesting to have in the dance, along with the people passing by or staying to watch.  Of course, in these Fringe performances the thematic material of the dance is underlined by the presence of the memorial to the Revolutionary War soldiers.  The grass and earth itself is a partner in our dance here too -- for many reasons, and specifically because the Square is a burial ground.

In the clip below I've collected a few more performance highlights that are not included in the first two videos.  I know this is a lot of footage and I doubt that most people will watch it all!  I just really enjoy watching the various  choices that the individual dancers make, and I wanted to share some more of those choices here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

dance process journal #18: short Philly Fringe excerpt

We performed our Philly Fringe shows on Sunday and Monday of this week, and I was able to record four out of the six performances.  It will take a while to look through and edit the footage but for now I'm posting a short excerpt from our Sunday shows.  In outdoor performances of this work, our encounters with audience members become a more visible part of the dance so I've chosen to have the dancers get closer to and sometimes more directly involved with the observers.  Even if people choose not to dance with us in the actual audience participation moments, they still become a much more visible part of the performance than they would be in a darkened theater, adding another spontaneous, unpredictable element to the piece.  In this excerpt two of our observers seem a bit unsure of how to react to the dancers working so close to them.  We also had a wedding party taking photos beside us on Sunday after we chased them off of the performance space; I don't know if they watched our dance! 

The dancers performed so beautifully and valiantly on this difficult terrain.  Dancing on grass proved to be more tiring than dancing on a flat surface and we were also covering a somewhat larger distance in this particular space.  The quieter, leaning moments became vital in helping the dancers to recover and prepare to reengage with the explosive pushing and struggling movement.  Some cast members had also danced in a very demanding show over the previous two nights, so there were varying degrees of physical exhaustion happening. I was so proud of them all for the focus and intensity that they maintained throughout our Fringe performances.

I was also truly moved by the number of spectators who approached us to make cash donations.  The park doesn’t allow a tip bucket, but many people came up and handed us contributions.  Unfortunately our IndieGoGo campaign did not reach its goal, but I am feeling grateful for the support we’ve received in this short time.  Our fundraising started fairly late in the game (IndieGoGo recommends a campaign of about three times longer) so I'm thankful that we have raised as much as we have even though it fell short of covering our costs.