The audience entered the St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, a space that has supported an active artistic community since the 19th century. A hall that has hosted poets, sculptors and artists will now be the setting for Impermanent Landscapes, Valerie Green’s most important work to date.
Green is the artistic director of Dance Entropy, a professional not-for-profit modern dance company she founded in 1998.
Green said her vision for Impermanent Landscape, which explores the way visual art is perceived, came from concepts developed over two years.
“The project is inspired by ideas of cubism and the changing landscape of Long Island City, where the company’s home studio, Green Space, is located,” Green said.
The audience voices carried in the hollow room as they took their seats on the outer edge of the dance floor.
The cast members, unrecognized by the bustling audience, were behind the crowd softly chanting, “Geometric circles, resuscitate us, guidance.”
One at a time, the dancers placed their colorful cloth tiles on the floor while leaping from one to the next as to not touch the light hard wood floor. Each word, movement and chant led them closer to the center of the “stage.”
Green said Impermanent Landscapes offers a fresh perspective on dance – from the dialogue in the performance to the interactive elements the performers have with the audience.
“As a choreographer I am interested in changing the environment of where my work is seen,” Green said. “It offers new challenges and explorations within this process, while allowing the viewer a refreshing take on the dance. The script was a stream of consciousness reaction to the work by Queens poet Stephanie Davis in the pre-show. The audience also changes locations throughout the dance, offering a new perspective on the work, creating an immersive experience.”
The work, which ran from June 1-3 in Manhattan, will be restaged in Queens. The performance was then held at LIC Landing June 28. The Victorian Garden of Voelker Orth Museum will also host a performance on Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. For a $5 donation, audience members will get to view the work.
Green said the evening-length performance is unique because it explores the concepts of perspective, perception, and impermanence through dance.
“The work being in the round [space] allows viewers to experience the work from all sides, as you would perhaps a sculpture or other work of art,” Green said.
Green accomplishes the concept of perception with Impermanent Landscape by having dancers constantly pulling focus from one another with different movements, stunts and choreography.
Green worked with a number of Queens artist to create Impermanent Landscapes.
Queens-based visual artist Priscilla Stadler created the tiles for the pre-show. She also worked with composer Martyn Axe to create an original sound score for the work. The script was written by Queens poet Stephanie Davis, the assistant poetry editor at Nashville Review.
Davis is also Poetry Editor of Tap Lit Magazine, a journal dedicated to showcasing the work of marginalized voices. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she earned a B.A. in English and Media Studies at Queens College, where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. She was also a Jamaica Arts Leadership Fellow and has received a New Works Grant from the Queens Council on the Arts. This summer she will complete writing opportunities at Indiana University’s Writers’ Conference and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at Oxford.
Green said that each artist’s contribution blended together to become the unique elements in the dance.
“The concept of movement triggered sound sensors, enabling the score to be different for each show,” said Green. “I experimented with different structures of the dance, costumes, visual art, and sound.
“Queens poet Stephanie Davis wrote an in the moment prose. The poem, unedited, was divided amongst the dancers and in some way [became] an abstract for the shadowing of what was to come in the dance.”
Jonathan Matthews, who has been working with Green and Dance Entropy since 2015 for the original mounting of Impermanent Landscape, said the dance is designed to get everyone out of their comfort zone.
“Valerie makes sure we are as prepared as humanly possible,” said Matthews. “For this piece, because of the audience shifts, we actually do a test run with an audience of Valerie’s students to practice the interactions. For Valerie, it means being able to deal with sudden glitches without panic. Even if we feel like competent improvisers, she wants us to have thought about our options before having to pull one out of the air. You don’t get that in a lot of places.”
Dance Entropy has a multi-ethnic company of eight talented dancers – Emily Aiken, Caitlyn Casson, Erin Giordano, Frank Leone, Kristin Licata, Jonathan Matthews, Richard J. Scandola and Hana Ginsburg Tirosh.
With the help of Dance Entropy and Valerie Green, the company fosters performance and teaching as a means to link dance and the people of a particular community. They have worked with under-privileged youth, adolescents, the chronically ill, trauma survivors, immigrants, senior citizens, and aspiring/professional dancers.
Matthews said dancing for him is getting out of the ordinary and traditional to embrace the unknown.
“[I’ve] learned to revel in discomfort; Agree to do things you actually have no experience doing,” Matthews said. “Don’t rely on a piece of paper from an institution to determine what it is you can do. Do not get caught up in distinguishing hobbies from work. Be aware of the contexts and categories structuring the world around you, and then disregard them completely in favor of what moves you honestly and truly.”
He added, “Let nothing fester inside you, unless that’s how you make your body move. If so, keep at it, but take plenty of Pepto-Bismol.”
©2017 Community News Group
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