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

Monday, November 7, 2011

A piece, emerging!

In Saturday's rehearsal we put together the entire piece, more or less. Up until this point the connections and transitions between the vignettes had only existed in my head and journal scribblings, and had not yet been communicated to, and embodied by, the dancers. Now the dancers have an understanding of the piece in its entirety (bar one last little tweak that will allow the piece to loop), and can begin to develop their performances and get the sequences inscribed into their body (and by body, I mean mind and body).

The (non-linear, non-narrative) sequence of the work involves the dancers moving between the two porticos of the Arcade at various moments. Sometimes vignettes are happening simultaneously on different sides, or even between the two sides. This means that no one person is able to see everything. Fragments are caught, perhaps glimpsed for a fleeting moment as a dancer disappears around a corner, or is seen through the long stretch of the Arcade. There is no "whole picture" to be seen, or to make sense of; there are just fragments, overlapping in time and place, to be experienced as they happen.

This is at odds with the traditional experience of performance where everything is neatly presented to the audience: a stage provides clear boundaries that direct the focus (although these boundaries are often played with, for example when a performer masquerades as an audience member); lighting is designed to illuminate and highlight performers, again directing the focus; seats with a partial view are often offered at a discount in a theatre setting because the audience member is denied seeing (knowing) everything-- the whole picture will not be visible.

How much, if any, of these values will be brought to the Arcade by the audience for this project? Will some people experience frustration or disappointment at not being able to see (know) everything? Anger? Will this work challenge anyone's idea of what could be referred to as "the visibility contract" between audience and maker/performer/presenter?

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