Neena: Why is site-specific dance worth going to a lecture about?
Maida: In the l960s dancers broke out in what is known as a “revolution” from modern dance to post-modern dance. One of the most important things to happen is that dancers did not stay inside theaters and limit themselves to making dances for the “elite” paying audience that could afford tickets. However, cost for both the artist and audience was only one factor. Dancers wanted to take the arts to where the people were (outside, in various locations) and also to make dances that were unique to the possible topic/subject of a site. For example if I perform a work on Theodore Roosevelt Island, I can dance and the audience gets to join me outside. I can dance in different locations (in the moat, up on the fountain, over the pedestrian bridge) while making a statement about President Roosevelt and his ideas about war and peace.
Dancers wanted to have a more intimate relationship with audiences so in site-specific work the audience is close enough to touch and be more intimately involved with the artist. The audience becomes a part of the performance rather than sitting out in the remote darkness of the theatre.
Site work is quite a different art form than dance made for theatre. On Site / Insight on September 17th at Joe’s Movement Emporium is a chance to learn about the differences and the similarities.
Neena: How is the audience going to be involved during Trans Action/what is expected of them?
In the beginning, the audience will be outside the building on the lawn and sidewalk and we will be bathed in red light at the large glass windows. When the audience comes inside, they will be able to walk freely around the space and choose what they watch. There will be chairs to sit on, areas to stand in, audience members may find themselves approached by dancer looking to either interact with them by movement and maybe in conversation about how art survives today in Hyattsville… or not! That’s up to the audience.
In fact, the audience is extremely important to this event. They give dancers ideas about what they choose to do whether it’s communicate through text, movement, vocalization, etc.
Neena: Why is this project special to you?
Maida: I love being close to the audience so there is not so much distance and separation between us. Audience members are performers too and the dancers get many ideas from the audience – how they stand, how they respond to the intimacy of being by the dancers, if/when they laugh. I really really like the “realness” of having the audience be available and close. I like the audience to be able to choose what they want to watch by walking to another location, etc.