Thursday January 14 9:30 pm
I’ve been attending site-specific performances since I was in my early 20’s and saw a “happening” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. It was in the eighties and a postmodern choreographer had made a work which was influenced by the “happenings” of the late sixties. The work took place throughout the museum and the audience followed the dancers. It was provocative and engaging and felt so fresh. I have never produced any site specific work however. Tonight that changed. I worked with Company apprentice Andile Ndlovu and sculptor Barbara Liotta on “Icarus Takes Flight”—a solo for Andile in response to a new sculpture by Barbara commissioned by The Phillips Collection. Andile danced in the gallery around the sculpture to a Ravel score performed live by a cellist and violinist from the Washington National Opera. The audience stood on the periphery of the gallery and the effect was haunting. Andile’s expressive back and arms, his laser-like focus and packed a punch, and the music brought a unified sense between all elements.
We had two showings tonight—at 6:30 and at 7:30. I was thrilled by the first showing except in one way: One could not ignore other audience members in the space, and everyone looked so shlumpy, standing this way and that! So at the start of the second showing I spoke to the audience and gave them a primer on how to stand in sixth position with their abdominals engaged, and cross their arms just so. I created an ordered corps de ballet out of them. Their presence was much improved!
“Icarus Takes Flight” is the first of a series of three site specific works we’re doing over the next few weeks, including work at Transformer and the Smithsonian’s Museum of African Art. It’s nice to forge new ground.