This project has been made possible by a grant from the Creative Arts Council of Brown University.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dancer reflections

The title of this post is a double entendre. The first meaning concerns the thoughts of the dancers after our second rehearsal yesterday, when they had more experiences with the space to reflect upon. Here are some impressions that they jotted down at the site.


stairs on weybosset side seem shallower then westminster, wet, upstairs feels higher up then i expected. Don't want to look down. Scared of heights. Can feel the floor sloping and buckling from age. Columns are just the right circumference to circle half of them with my arms. Keep touching things...wood is softer and warmer, columns are colder and harder. Unlit star hanging out front. What color was it when it was lit?


fascinated by the responsiveness/flexibility of the building material...the once-straight lines of the upper balcony railings and edges, in particular, having become impossibly serpentine with age; surprised at the capacity of wood and metal to relax into such soft contours.the scale of the space strikes me as indicative of belonging to a different era - in my mind's eye, I compare it to the scale of the mall (the corridors, the storefronts) and I understand how vastly our notion of what constitutes a sufficient amount of space has shifted since the time of the arcade. The more I gaze at the columns, the more they seem like robust, stoic, flat-footed figures standing upright in space, with us dancing around their feet.I see suspended white globes, reaching their arms out into the streets below, beckoning.I see the peeling skin of paint grown old, endless shades of gray...stone, different stone, the sky on this rainy day, more stone.There is a lightness inside threatening to spill out...if only it were set free.

The second meaning of the post title references the section that I worked on with Nadia and Amy today. They are each on one of the porticos, facing into the Arcade, and one dancer's movements are mirrored by the other across the length of the building. The duet riffs off of the prominence of reflections at the Arcade. The glass doors and store fronts under the Arcade porticos create a wall where the activity on the streets in front of the Arcade is refracted and reflected, and I found this multitude of reflections- of cars, of pedestrians, of buildings, of myself- largely defines my experience of the space. Some of the photos from 12.9.11 capture these effects.

Interestingly, the Arcade was originally doorless, open, existing as an extension of the streets, and the glass was not added until the renovations for the 1980 re-opening. The experience of the space would have been very different pre-1980 without this reflective canvas, even thought the choice of glass for the doors was a clear attempt to maintain the open quality of the building. But perhaps the glass assists this flow of interior and exterior in its own way; while the glass materially creates a divide between the inside and outside of the Arcade, the reflective effects blur them, creating a montage where, for a person standing on the portico looking in, the interior and exterior blend and shift into one another. The duet I created for Nadia and Amy riffs off of this reflective experience, as the dancers shift in and out of being the original and the reflection without really knowing which is which.

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