Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Performing: exposure vs. conditions

What space do you have in mind when you choreograph? Is it a huge, sprung stage with a nice surface, great lighting, a good number of seats in the house, climate control etc.? Some work is better in smaller venues, others in larger, still others is site-specific, but regardless, you would like to perform in the space you had in mind when making the work.  But what do we do when conditions we find ourselves in don't match our ideal? One interesting challenge comes to mind in times where there are the possibilities to perform in spaces that aren't usually performance venues. The option to create a whole new work specifically for the space is a time consuming one. If you're adapting an existing work, how much are you willing to sacrifice of your original vision, not to mention shins/knees etc. for the exposure of a public performance that may be in a less than ideal spot? How do you adapt your work if needed, or at what point do you say no amount of exposure is worth the conditions you'd be performing in?


  1. Being young and not presenting work as much as I should I have to say that exposure outweighs conditions. I adapted a solo for a smaller venue and aside from cutting some phrase material and holding back on travelling (I tend to make large horizontal passes in the solo), I was willing to forfeit some movement because I wanted to present my work again and was able to keep the "feeling" of the piece.

    For someone who creates work regularly and has a vision then I think the space/conditions should hold greater value in order for the creator to succeed in their vision.

    Core Performance Company ran into a challenge when performing Polly Motley's "Charmed Romantics" at Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston. The subtle relationships did not read as well as they do in a more intimate environment but I have to say that the audience responded well to the piece.

    Toba Singer reviewed Weekend of Texas Contemporary Dance and wrote:
    “Charmed Romantics” by Polly Motley for CORE Performance Company, emerged to explore the theme of romantic couplings, where refinery coveralls androgenized the sexual identities of dancers who presented with strong work. Such an experimental piece is probably better suited to a more intimate venue.

  2. I think one needs to definitely weigh the benefits. Who will be the audience? How many people will be there? Will the audience be people who will be interested in what the artist will do? Will they potentially reciprocate by attending a full production? Is it a money crowd? Is it a presentation that will be conducive to the audience being attentive?

    Then in terms of what the artist will perform one has to way the goals with the artistic expression to be utilized. In other words can the piece be excerpted or cobbled together more as a "reader's digest" version or does the piece actually require a full performance? And how flexible is the piece to varying production details, such as floor type, floor covering, indoor vs outdoor, wind, lack of temperature control, how will the dancers enter, change, how is music played, etc. Of course, safety of the performers should always receive the highest priority.

    While sometimes the exposure benefits are great enough to say "make it work", one always wants to make sure you are safe, look good and not half-baked.

    Just some thoughts,