A member of Tami Dance Company in Nimrod Freed’s PeepDance, photo by Evan
Central Park’s SummerStage became a village of peepers on Saturday night as hundreds of other people and I scurried from one peep cell to the next to peep on the eight dancers of Tami Dance Company in Nimrod Freed’s PeepDance. Seven brightly colored peep cells, each with twenty-five peep holes, allowed 175 people to peep on different dances occurring simultaneously. Although the preview video was set to music by Philip Glass, PeepDance was performed to an eclectic mix of music, spoken word, and street noise. As Nimrod Freed mentioned in a recent Time Out New York article, the piece explored “the everyday tension of living in Israel, the aggravating conduct of flies, and the art of voyeurism”. The dancers’ movements were based on improvisations that were inspired by humans fighting flies (think lots of violent arm movements). As I hesitantly approached a white peep cell and peered into the peep hole, my left eyeball darted back and forth to locate the dancer, but I didn’t see anything. Perhaps this peep cell was intentionally vacant. Suddenly, a woman (shown in the above photo) sprung up from the floor and her intense gaze met my eye. She had caught me peeping, and although my instinct was to turn away, I restrained myself. We stared at each for about five seconds before she turned in a different direction.
I didn’t come eye to eye with any other dancers, but as I peered into each peep cell, I felt like I was spying on something that was meant to be private. Each dancer was dealing with a conflict – with a fly, with a person on the street, with the state of Israel, with himself or herself – that seemed deeply personal, not to be shared with outsiders. It was interesting to watch them from different angles – the peep holes were at different levels, so sometimes I knelt down to watch and at other times I stood on tiptoe. In one peep hole I only saw a dancer’s feet, while in another I saw a dancer’s long hair moving as she spun her head in circles. The inability to see everything at once was what made PeepDance so unique and challenging. Freed was not demanding the audience to see as much as possible, but rather, I think he wanted us to view the dancers from a variety of perspectives, and more generally, to shake up the way we observe movement.
Look closely for the other peepers
For the dancers, it must be challenging to perform in what was essentially a small box (I wondered if they felt at all like caged animals in a zoo). The audience sees much more of them than they see of us. This is true in concert dance, as well, but when dancers perform on a stage, they can engage or interact with the audience as much as they want. In the peep cells, they only catch glimpses of eyeballs or camera lenses in each peep hole. For the audience, PeepDance provides an opportunity to peep on other peepers. It was rather humorous and oddly bizarre to look at one of the walls of the peep cells and see an eyeball in each peep hole, staring intently at the dancer. But as Freed pointed out in the article, “everybody likes to peep”.
PeepDance was one of the most memorable and innovative dances I’ve seen in a while, and fortunately, the audience was allowed to take photographs. I took approximately seventy (yes, I was one of the onlookers who spent a lot of time with my camera held up to the peep hole)! Once I accepted the fact that I felt like I was spying, it was thrilling to capture the dancers (and other people peeping) on camera from the perspective of a peeper. I’ve included several in this post, but you can see all of my photos here.
The crew removes the peep cells after the performance
All photos by Evan – please do not use without permission.