Thursday, April 28, 2011

Invitation to Secret Dancers - Rotterdam 2011

This coming Friday I get to realize another edition of Elaine Summers' "Invitation to Secret Dancers" as introduction to a neighbourhood-dance event in Het Oude Westen (the old West) a very multi-cultural neighbourhood in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The performance happens in collaboration with the Elaine Summers Dance & Film Archives and is a part of the ongoing project "Elaine Summers Dance Scores", where several of her works from the 1960s until today are collected, together with data on first performers, archival photos, footage etc.
Also, we are honoring the call of UNESCO for the yearly International Day of Dance, this year promoting dance in public spaces ...  
click here for the Dutch blog with more information about participants, photos, and videos

realisation 2010 on the Schouwburgplein, Rotterdam
What keeps fascinating me is that while the dance may appear 'easy' and is designed to be very accessible, it is actually quite a challenge for anyone involved: the dancers have to be very sensitive to the presence of the passing-by audience who they make contact with and invite to dance. They also must maintain an acute sense of actions around them and have a sense for how they can contribute to it.
And any Secret Dancer coming by may still feel like having to overcome barriers of not being used to dance in public, before letting go and happily joining the dance in their own way, rather than simply exercising a prescribed dance routine. (which might, however, be a possible option)

for a wonderful realisation of "Invitation to Secret Dancers" 
by Elaine Summers Dance & Film Co. at CEC Solar 1 in New York, 2005 click here

"Invitation to Secret Dancers" is very clearly an outstretched hand / arm / limb / gesture towards anyone, inviting and enabling them to dance, and potentially encouraging them to find their own dance as they go along. I find that this is an ongoing theme in her work. By originating Kinetic Awareness® Elaine Summers has even developed an entire technique / practice where students are developing just that, under guidance from a teacher - their very own way to move and dance. "Invitation to Secret Dancers" deals with the fifth and final phase of Kinetic Awareness® where after articulation, coordination, speed and tension-levels, the practitioner deals with relating one's own sense of movement to those of others.

Dance Scores
Just like many of the dance scores that Elaine has created throughout her career, I understand this dance as a tool for empowerment, directly in line with other works such as "Illuminated Workingman" or "One and One and One and One". The artistic background is one that practices inclusiveness of all kinds of movement in their own right, from the very start, without giving up either trained or untrained vocabulary, but rather understanding both as being in a continuum, and accepting each for its own potential. Aesthetics become perception again, just like is suggested by the Archaic Greek term 'aisthesis', taking for true, rather than merely a specified design that is accepted as "beautiful" or "desirable".

By interpreting the score for the dance, anyone involved can learn more about the subject of the dance itself. This, too, is very much in line with many of Summers' dance scores - another example could be "Walking Dance for Any Number" where one becomes acutely aware of ways to walk, simply by closely following the instructions.

Doing this dance, I find myself becoming ever more fine-tuned and able to make contact and have possible communication with potential strangers in public space, an issue that I've met with over almost 15 years of producing and performing work in public spaces (see below a first production with "Invitation to Secret Dancers" as part of the series con·sens·us in 2004)

But I also find I become ever more aware and able to formulate possible kinds of choreography that can be included to become a part of "Invitation to Secret Dancers". 

And so on we go ... as Elaine likes to say: Merry Dancing!

uitnodiging aan stiekeme dansers / Invitation to Secret Dancers has been realized with Natalie Dupon, coordinator of Neighbourhood Park Het Oude Westen (the Old West, a neighbourhood in Rotterdam) with thanks to Corrie Kreuk, Culture-Scout Menno Rosier / SBAW, Bernadet van Winden / SKVR and Janine Brall / Studio Yoga Maya. The overall event has been made possible by grants from the Rotterdam Arts Council, Stg. Bevordering van Volkskracht, Alliantie West-Kruiskade, Stadsmarinier, and a large number of volunteers - thank you very much!