Scouting out a new site for a possible performance, I wander around letting my gaze fall where it will. I see what draws me, what floods my imagination with possibilities and images. I try and let the space speak to me and listen to what it wants to say. The swirl of energy, the play of light, the architecture, the shadows – all are potential material. This is what draws me to create site-specific work, because it is always new, always requires me to expand my consciousness and reach out to unfamiliar places and spaces. I try to free myself of preconceived ideas and expectations and just be in the site. There is a sense of play in site-specific work that delights me, that keeps me from taking myself too seriously.
For our upcoming performance at the Stoneview Nature Center I noticed while walking around that there are signs throughout the space that give information about the plants, how different cultures relate to them and other interesting tidbits. I decided to mold the dance around these signs and what they said, often moving from the literal information to an abstract interpretation of it. While I have done many pieces in urban gardens and centers, this was the first time that I have used signage for inspiration. A friend of mine asked me if I was OK with all of the distractions that performing outside brings – people walking through the space, animals, kites flying – anything and everything that can happen outdoors usually does. For me, the site itself is another performer, so what goes on in the site in addition to the dancing is all part of the performance. In a more traditional setting like a theater, I often phase in and out of what’s going on onstage, because that’s where something in the performance leads me. Then I’m drawn back into the stage and it’s happenings. This in and out might be more pronounced when the performance is site-specific, but I think it’s the general nature of being an audience, there’s an ebb and flow of attention. It’s the discovery of what a new site brings that’s exciting, that stimulates the senses and the imagination and that makes site-specific work so special. Information about the performance can be found at dsdancers.com/event