Papers: Emily Morgan, Kaus Sarkar & Danielle Georgiou | Moderator: Jilissa Cotten

Two Interactive Performances: Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16” and Headlong Dance Theater’s “This Town is a Mystery”

Emily Morgan, Director of Dance
Colorado State University, Colorado, USA

Abstract: This paper will analyze two different approaches to interactive performance. Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16” takes place in a traditional performance space and for the bulk of the dance, can generally be considered a traditional dance performance in which the audience members are seated and separate, and the dancers are onstage. Towards the end of the performance, though, the professional dancers draw selected audience members onstage to dance. I will argue that from the beginning of the dance, Naharin constructed opportunities that may encourage (or allow) seated audience members to participate from their seats. In contrast, Headlong Dance Theater’s “This Town is a Mystery” brings audience members into performers’ houses, yet the performers interact only minimally with the audience; audience members share a potluck dinner after the performance. The performers are non-dancers, “everyday people” with whom Headlong has worked with to construct performances about their houses and their lives in them. In describing how the two performances break the proverbial fourth wall, this paper will analyze the ways in which the performances create or do not create opportunities for interaction. How do we, as audience members, know what the rules are when our typical rules for behavior are altered? What role does the interaction play in our experiences of the work? Are there residual effects that exist after the performance ends? In discussing these two disparate interactive performances, this paper will consider the ways in which one might literally and figuratively dance through the boundary between audience and performer.

Emily Morgan is interested in interactive/participatory dance in traditional and nontraditional spaces. This encompasses many other research interests: dance created by and for community members, site-specific dance, and interdisciplinary performance, which Emily explores through both research and creative work. She has performed and presented her work throughout the United States, as well as internationally in Austria, Barbados, and Mexico. She has taught at Winthrop University, the University of Texas, El Paso, El Paso Community College, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Elon University, the North Carolina Governor’s School, and at a public magnet arts high school in Winston-Salem, NC. Emily holds an MFA in dance from UNC Greensboro and a BA in dance from Denison University in Ohio. She is director of dance at Colorado State University and a PhD student in dance at Texas Woman’s University.

Breathing Spaces: A Pedagogical Exploration of Dance and Architecture

Kaus Sarkar, Assistant Professor
University of North Carolina in Charlotte, USA

Abstract: This paper explores the conceptualization and mutual constitution of space and movement in relation to technological mediation. It is a collaborative pedagogical project between the disciplines of dance and architecture as the choreographic enhances, manipulates, and distorts the limitations of physical space by weaving itself within the structural fabric. Dancing About Architecture is an experiment between dancers and architects pursuing undergraduate degrees at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, in which the students explore intersections of ideas and methods between the disciplines. The result is interactive settings and choreographed performances via the mediation of the software, modul8, presented to an audience from both departments. Ranging from distortions of static spatial planes creating a dynamic flow of bodies through ethereal biomorphic membranes containing spiritual projections and sounds, to probing the relationship between the physical environment and the digital realm through the use of Kinect motion capture and choreography based on call and response between reality and the digital self—this collaboration opened the pores of architectural space through the internal conceptualization of dancers’ proprioceptive awareness. The viewing/ participating audience members in these durational, interactive, and concert-style presentations become a part of the choreographic while figuring out their relationships with the multiple components—namely, the dance, the technology, and the interactive components. Space mediated via movement and digital responsiveness, breathes portraying its inherent manipulability that is tapped via dancers’ negotiations of group choreography, solo investigations, and audience interactions. Looking at these projects from conceptualization to completion, enable a careful negotiation between disciplines where dance needs to make space for architecture and architecture needs to move itself to fit into dancing shoes. Analyzing this collaboration from a digital humanities pedagogical perspective questions the non-dichotomous relationship of movement in space as the project considers movement enlivening space through its breath.

Kaustavi Sarkar is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte (UNCC), and Artistic Director of India-based Indian classical dance organization geared towards building communities through movement called Kaustavi Movement Center. She is an Odissi soloist and her doctoral research brings a technologically motivated critical theoretical angle to her practice. Her work Odissi Anima, a collaboration between dance and architecture, has been featured at The Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design at The Ohio State University. She has performed and presented her scholarly and creative works in dance festivals and conferences in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Her choreography has been featured in American College Dance Association Conference, Faculty Concert UNCC, Ohio Dance Festival, and Charlotte Dance Festival. She has published in digital humanities, religious studies, dance and technology, queer studies, performance studies, and arts entrepreneurship.

Eric Sauda is a registered architect who specializes in the use of digital and computational technologies and their transformative effect on architecture. He is director of the Digital Arts Center at the College of Arts and Architecture. His research has focused on the areas of urban visualization and interactive architecture. He works closely with the Urban Visualization Research Group, the Charlotte Visualization Center at the College of computing and Informatics, the ComputingInPlace Research Group and the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology.

Toward An Understanding of Dialogic Dance Theatre

Dr. Danielle Georgiou, Program Coordinator and Lead Faculty in Dance
Eastfield College, Texas, USA

Abstract: Contemporary dance theatre pushes artists to take more significant risks in expression and form by reinterpreting subjects, themes, appearances, assumptions, and even performers; yet, the ongoing dialogue in the field illustrates that there is a need for further exploration of what the form is, what it can be, and methods to preserved and documented it. There is space for the emergence of new definitions and subcategories. Thus, comes forth the concept of dialogic dance theatre—the interplay of performative elements and collaborative, devising techniques with a distinct effort toward eliciting a response from an audience. Environments, performances, and intent are amplified to draw audiences in to receive the show as one side of a shared conversation.  By examining a selection of works from Pina Bausch, Mark Dendy, and Lloyd Newson that use text in the development of choreography and narration, and a selection of works by Sidra Bell that use social media and new technologies as an audience engagement tool, the concept of dialogic dance theatre developed. The works discussed encompass methods that invite the audience to participate through interactive elements, immersive environments, and the use of social media to participate in post-show conversations. The parallel that develops between text and movement is an essential factor in communicating the theme of self-awareness and in defining the space in which the work exists. The performers and the audience engage in a conversation while dancing, and that resulting dialogue becomes the environment.

Dr. Danielle Georgiou is the Program Coordinator and Lead Faculty in Dance at Eastfield College. She teaches courses in modern dance technique, dance theatre techniques, and dance history. In 2011, she created the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group, and has produced a series of collaborative, devised dance theatre productions with a team of artists based in Dallas. DGDG was selected as Best Dance Troupe of 2017 and 2015 by The Dallas Observer and Best Dance Company for 2016 by the readers of D Magazine.  Georgiou’s choreography and video work have been presented nationally throughout Texas, New York, Florida, Oklahoma, California, and Oregon; and internationally in Scotland and Germany. She has been the artist in residence with the Dallas Public Library system, Richland College, and CentralTrak—The UT Dallas Artist Residency Program. She’s written for The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Observer, Glasstire, Dance/USA, and Art&Seek; she currently writes for TheaterJones.

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