On Thursday the Greensboro Project Space hosted Dance Project Inc’s, NC Dance Festival performances. The program was scheduled from 8:30 to 10 p.m., followed by an after party at the Boxcar Bar + Arcade in downtown Greensboro.
Greensboro Project Space, located downtown at 219 West Lewis Street, is “a contemporary art space created by the school of Art at UNCG. It seeks to make the city of Greensboro a richer place to live through creative, dynamic and collaborative public programming,” according to their website. The building is a convenient walk from a nearby parking lot, situated just off the side of some train tracks. The space offers artists, of all kinds, an intimate setting to share their work with the public as a unique response to the traditional stage arrangement most audience members might be used to.
This setting was the perfect complement to the NC Dance Festivals mantra of “professional quality dance with a community feel.” The audience surrounded the dancers, sometimes even having to pull back their feet to make room for the dancer’s’ movements. Often, a performer would even make sustained eye contact with a viewer, reinforcing the idea that the connection with audience members was essential to the piece.
The Dance Festival offered three performances “Within the Sequence,” “Magnificent Mirage” and “Rendezvous.” For each, the dancers and choreographers worked with one another to express a particular message, no matter how abstract.
“Within the Sequence,” was performed by two dancers who moved to an eerie accompaniment of soundscapes, that was crafted by the choreographers, and became more noticeable as the dance progressed. In fact, the entire dance had an element of improvisation which inspired a feeling of anticipation for the viewer as they watched the silent cues between the dancers and the choreographers. Utilizing the unique features of the space, the artists cleverly positioned themselves in front of a blank wall, midway through the dance, that offered interesting shadow play. On the event’s Facebook page, the dance is described as “an improvisational process held together by sound and a common intention toward healing.”
“Magnificent Mirage” was a trio performed by three women, dressed in business attire, and seeking to express elements of the fashion photographer, Deborah Turbeville. In an article from The New Yorker, her photography is described as, “almost always black and white, was atmospheric, theatrical and more than a little dark…hazy pictures looked like they’d been discovered in an attic and barely dusted off.” This impression was truly expressed in the dance, with the women tackling such conflicting messages of weakness and strength, and vulnerability and power.
“Rendezvous” was a collaborative effort by two partners who sought to create an otherworldy experience. Greensboro Project Space’s Facebook page describes, “witty and dark, the work draws inspiration from disaster survival guides, instructional diagrams for aerobic disco routines and illustrations of disembodied hands in its idiosyncratic performance.” The dance also produced sentiments of secrecy and love within its narrative, keeping the audience engaged and invested in the movement of the artists.
Following the dance, one half of the “Rendezvous” performance, Chris Yon, said: “Our real interest in dance making is to create these containers that can hold lots of different interests. We make lots of two dimensional collages of diagrams that are repurposed from Arthur Murray, ballroom dances and Bruce Lee. Each dance is kind of a core sample of a moment in time of our longer trajectory. It’s really more about dancing together.”
As Yon describes, a platform for artists to creatively express their interests, interpretations, and unique influences of dance is an important need which the NC Dance Festival seeks to create a platform for. In the beginning, the Dance Festival was set in the UNCG Dance Theater and featured a limited number of artists. Since then, it has grown in performers and performance spaces so that now, the Dance Festival is in its 27th season, they “have made significant changes in the structure of the Festival, including the sites and types of works presented, in order to feature more artists, working in a variety of kinds of contemporary dance, including experimental work, multi-media, and dance theater,” according to information retrieved from danceproject.org.
As an observer of the NC Dance Festival’s performances myself, I felt as though I was taken into another world within the small space. The three dances allowed me to disband the limiting definitions I had concerning dance as I learned to appreciate the alternative and impressive ways creativity can present itself. The Festival is a memorable experience one should consider attending if they wish to support some remarkable North Carolina artists.