Cedar Lake’s The Copier: The Audience’s Role

There’s a discussion going on at The Kinetic Interface of Great Dance about the audience’s role and participation in Cedar Lake’s upcoming installation The Copier, choreographed by Jill Johnson.  Doug states in his post that he would like to be involved in a more physical way, and thinks the installation could be an opportunity for community dance.  Perhaps it could, but this depends entirely on Jill’s vision.  Because she is closely collaborating with the dancers – and gave them various tasks during the first rehearsal as a starting point for exploring movement possibilities – I have a feeling that Jill’s vision for the installation is evolving.  If this is the case, incorporating the audience in a physical way might be challenging.

Interacting with dancers on intellectual and emotional levels – selecting what to observe, deciding how and when to shift around the space, processing what is being conveyed, and reflecting on how it makes you feel – can be just as significant and meaningful.  As I mentioned in my comment on Doug’s post, this type of involvement is more individualized and internal, and therefore not as visible to an observer.  My recent quotation of the day about defining choreography, which came from Jill Sigman and the jillsigman/thinkdance blog, seems particularly relevant.  Sigman says:

It is not about how my foot is pointed or my arm is curved. It is about what invisible thing we can make happen together. We claim the space, like reclaimed land, and make something happen in it.”

To me, the most striking word is “invisible”, suggesting that an individual’s contribution to a dance – particularly to an interactive installation – doesn’t have to be physical and immediately noticeable to others.  The audience’s participation in and contribution to The Copier might be more intellectual than physical (although there will undoubtedly be physical interaction as the audience and dancers move around one another, and as individuals copy others), but they’re still altering the energy in the space and engaging in a proactive way.  It’s a different, less visible form of participating in a performance, but equally satisfying. 

You can be a part of The Copier between August 20th and 23rd by ordering tickets here.  For a special blog reader discount, enter “BLOGCP” where it says “discount code”.

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4 Responses to Cedar Lake’s The Copier: The Audience’s Role

  1. Doug Fox says:

    Nice post … by the way, I wasn’t passing judgment on different ways that audiences can be connected or involved with a dance work. I was sharing what I’d particularly enjoy.

    Also, I think that if you take how a dance company such as Cedar Lake uses the Internet to its logical conclusion, then one of possibilities will be to use the collaborative nature of the Internet in a direct, participatory manner as I wrote about. In end, it obviously comes down to what artists want to do and the types of interaction they want to foster.

    It would be nice to see a broader discussion about the topic of audience engagement and the many different approaches and possibilities in the blogosphere. Why do choreographers and dancers not participate in these conversations? Why do arts administrators and marketing people not participate in these conversations? Why do students and academics not participate in these conversations? Why do presenters not participate in this conversation? There are many examples, stories and insights to share but on the blogosphere, things are way too quiet.

  2. Evan says:

    Thanks, Doug. And yes, this is just a matter of personal preference – how people enjoy being involved in a performance.

    It would be great to see more discussion on blogs about audience engagement, but one of the key contributors (as you said) of such a discussion would be arts administrators and marketing/communications reps from dance companies. I think it would beneficial on both sides. It’s just a matter of finding the right forum, and making people aware of and interested in utilizing it.

    For all – check out quodlibet’s post on audience interaction: http://quodlibet.tumblr.com/post/45121094/transmission

  3. tonya says:

    This is a really interesting discussion, you guys. I definitely have to think more about it. I do think the internet has allowed for more opened-up communications in the arts, ways for people to discuss and participate, which brings people closer to the arts. When I go to a performance, though, even when it’s an installation, I like to experience what the choreographer has in store for me. I feel like watching a good dance is like reading a good novel or seeing a good play — it’s like the choreographer is speaking to me, to us, is trying to say something. (the dancers too, of course). But if I’m adding my own two cents too much, then I’m not listening to the artist — you know what I mean?… But I do want to think about this more. Very thought-provoking discussion!

    I can’t wait to see this!

  4. Pingback: Swan Lake Samba Girl » Blog Archive » It’s Cedar Lake Time Again | Tonya Plank | Writer, Dancer and Public Interest Lawyer

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