The dance anywhere® project 3/26…DO IT

25 Mar

I had fully intended to write about the dance anywhere® project much sooner than this, but various things kept coming up and now I’m writing at the somewhat eleventh hour (my apologies Julia!).  No excuses though, so I’m going to get to it.  I’ll begin with dance anywhere’s press release, which sums up the necessary details better than I can (plus, copy + paste is viciously tempting in a time crunch):

SIXTH ANNUAL CONCEPTUAL ART PIECE dance anywhere® SET FOR MARCH 26, 2010

THOUSANDS WORLDWIDE TO DANCE SIMULTANEOUSLY AT NOON (PDT)

UNITING TIME ZONES AND PEOPLE IN DANCE

San Francisco, March 19, 2010 – On March 26, 2010, dancers worldwide will come together simultaneously in dance to celebrate the universal importance and joy of movement.  In its sixth year, this conceptual event will take place on Friday, March 26, 2010 at noon Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), 3pm EDT (New York, etc) 8pm in Paris, Rome, etc.

Artist and dance anywhere® originator Beth Fein says, “This conceptual public art is an open invitation to all: to stop and dance wherever they will be at noon on March 26th in San Francisco, New York, Paris, Rome and other cities.  dance anywhere® is a public art project and free to all participants.

Since 2005, dance anywhere® has had hundreds of performers participate on the streets, bridges, in schools etc. dance anywhere®  integrates art into everyday public spacesand exposes unsuspecting audiences to dance.  The project also transforms perceptions of where and how art can occur, demonstrating that art does not need to be exhibited in a gallery, and dance does not need to be performed on a stage. It brings everyone’s awareness to the space they are in: the street, the office, the library, the grocery store or park. Anyone is encouraged to participate, and the project involves people of all ages, abilities, nationalities, and backgrounds. 

For more information about participating in dance anywhere® on March 26, 2010 please go to:  

http://www.danceanywhere.org      Email: Beth Fein at bethfein@danceanywhere.org

For more information about the event or photo requests, contact Jennifer Roy at  roykey@mac.com

or 415-706-7644

Bay Area locations for 2010 include:

 SFMOMA,

 Asian Arts Museum

 Berkeley Art Museum

Rockridge BART

Dancers from across the United States from Hawaii, California, Colorada, Mississippi, to Chicago, NY and Pennsylvania (partial list) and around the world including: Argentina, Chile, Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, England, Ireland, Austalia, New Zealand, and Guinea have all been a part of dance anywhere®.

DETAILS:

WHAT: dance anywhere®, a participatory global public artwork—anyone who wants to dance can participate, or as audience, shoot photos or video.

WHEN: Friday, March 26, 2010, at noon in San Francisco

WHERE: Various locations throughout the Bay Area and world

ADMISSION: Free

INFORMATION: danceanywhere .com

Now, let’s discuss shall we?

First of all, I have to say that I’m a huge fan of this kind of ambush tactic dancing.  I think people don’t dance enough as it is, and I’ve said before that methods of communication gravitate towards verbal and written modes and we lose touch with the ability to communicate with our bodies even though movement is the first thing we learn as infants (or even in the womb!).  There’s a fascinating paradox when it comes to movement; it is a VAST and infinite language and yet it is the most universal and most accessible.  So why is it engaged so little?  I’m in agreement that some people have a preconceived notion that art has to take place in a venue…that paintings belong on walls and dances belong on stage.  Well, I have two words for those people…Opus Jazz.

It’s kind of a funny coincidence that Opus Jazz, featuring dancers of New York City Ballet (including Craig Hall who I recognize from his cameos in Center Stage.  I had no idea who he was at the time, but he has a very handsome, very striking face!) aired on PBS last night, because while watching it I immediately thought of dance anywhere®.  Opus Jazz was a made for film version of the Jerome Robbins piece, shot on location around New York.  Although I’ve never seen the original, the dances took on a new life in new settings, like an abandoned railyard at sunrise or an open concrete courtyard.  That new life being the distinct breath of the city itself, enabled the dancers to really embody that essence and be a part of the setting in an incredibly intimate way.  My point?  Location, location, location.   Site-specific works are something I was introduced to as an attendee of multiple dances at Ohio State University and through those experiences I began to understand and appreciate even more the connection between setting and choreography.  As much as I love ballet, because it’s a genre so grounded in fantasy, a lot of scenary is relegated to painted backdrops.  Sometimes it’s all a part of the grand design a la Symphonic Variations, but sometimes the voice of the setting itself is so weak it really is “just a background.”  But dance anywhere tells us to take the opportunity to find a new voice in new surroundings, outside of the stage and studio; which is likely to change the way you dance.

It certainly presents a lot of challenges (I’m still befuddled as to how the NYCB dancers reeled off all kinds of pirouettes in sneakers on concrete or dirt) but those challenges are sure to teach our bodies to experience a familiar movement in a new way.  But participation in this project (which I highly encourage because I think it’s amazing to feel like you’re a part of something bigger, even if nobody is there to witness your moment) is not limited to people who understand a certain array of dance vocabulary.  No no…so venture forth and move in any way that feels good (or not) to you and join the collective!

As for me, I was all gung ho about participating and I WILL find a way, but I am a bit limited, thanks to a shoulder injury.  I’m basically a garden statue at this point, but I’m hoping it will loosen up by Friday.  When I tried to think of a location that inspired me, I immediately thought of Ohio State’s Browning Ampitheatre, an outdoor theater built in the style of a Greek ampitheater, with gorgeous, semi-circular stone seating.  I know I just said that dance should be danced away from the stage so an outdoor ampitheater is hardly an original idea, but I adore it all the same and I tend not to fight my impulses (you know anything ancient Greek-esque will inspire me!).  I like what I like and that’s just the reality of it all.  I’m actually more drawn to the seats themselves rather than the stage, so maybe I’ll get some friends to join me and play around there.  Or maybe the very idea of having a plan defeats the whole purpose.  Whatever your cup of tea, be it indoors, outdoors, on a stage-like setting or not, whether your dance is serious or just for fun, find a way to be a part of dance anywhere and document it.  Nobody expects you to create an Opus Jazz though…so enjoy the process, whatever the investment that is for you.

The Browning Ampitheater (photo copyright of its respective owner)

Meanwhile, did anyone else enjoy Opus Jazz as much as I did?  I’m still replaying it mentally like when Alphaville’s Forever Young gets stuck in my head.

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