During our residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center Dandelion Dancetheater will be creating the first draft of a piece titled “Don’t Suck!” as part of our larger look at the inner workings of competition.
We had a fertile day of creation and play today. There was lots of physical aggression in our improvisations, we pushed the risk factor for many of our group in our Contact Improvisation training session, each of the ensemble members (contestants) began work on their composition/choreography assignments to be included (and evaluated by a panel of judges) during our performance, and we had a good deal of fun–as evidenced by the following video, which was shot just after we all got first access to a vibrant pool of costume materials. It’s amazing what happens when performers get into a costume.
This is our first attempt at introducing each of the competing ensemble members. We will likely try different ways of doing this again throughout the week.
First, the introducing of the assignment:
And then the introduction to our introductions:
We intend to use the reality TV format as a “Trojan Horse” of access onto the radar for folks who aren’t usually interested in experimental dance. Where mainstream reality TV tends to use high-drama interpersonal tension as their “hook” to attract viewers, I am more interested in other methods to widen the scope of dance audiences. Humor, vulnerability, absurdity, underbelly explorations, new understandings of virtuosity and the power of community collaboration are what draw me in. Perhaps these elements could be what we use to compete with mainstream TV.
We can’t out-glitz Bravo or Lifetime or NBC, but we can find ways to use the TV medium for truth-telling, shit-stirring and perspective-expanding. It’s gonna be a long road for us to travel to sort out where our anarchic, inclusive approach to performance intersects with the TV phenomena, but it feels like a worthy journey to undertake.