Looks like Tulsa might be a little excited (or at least intrigued) about tomorow’s eMerge Dance Festival in the tunnels under downtown — online tickets have sold out! (There will be a few left at the door before the event begins at 7:00, so give it a shot if you didn’t buy online.) The goal of eMerge, a project of the Living Arts Dance Committee, is “to promote a revival of art’s culture-bearing and connective function by reintegrating it into communal settings. The mission of the festival is to support and promote community, interactive dance art, and civic participation.” I think this year’s festival is going to exemplify all those things, and I’m eager to hear what you think after you experience it.
I get to perform with Jessica Vokoun and Rachel Bruce Johnson in one of these tunnels tomorrow night, performing a piece we created together. We began the process by meeting in the space and spent some time just looking, feeling, writing, absorbing, talking, letting ideas ricochet off the walls. This particular tunnel is very long and slopes upward; the walls and ceiling are close, hard, and rather drab. There was a sense of claustrophobia and even a little paranoia in the space (thanks to the blind corners at each end, we could hear the voices of passersby before we could see them), but also, thanks to the ascending angle, a sense of opening toward a new space at the far end. We began to think about a journey, about the effort of moving forward to a new phase of life, and since there are three of us, about how such a journey is both individual and dependent on the support of a community. We discovered that the tunnel’s walls were narrow enough for us to rebound off of, so that became a new dimension in our dancemaking, a counterpoint to the forward thrust that underpins it. As we explored moving on the slope of the floor we discovered that we often fell back the way we came after a few forward steps, that the momentum we would build would naturally die away without quite a strong effort to keep moving forward. Hence our title “Two Steps Forward” (with its implied “one step back”). Our process of creating the piece was wonderfully collaborative, each of us bringing our own phrase work (which then got broken apart and cut and pasted throughout the piece) and diagramming the music Jessica chose and discovering transitions together. The process of making it in fact mirrored the concept of the piece itself: that we are each always working in our own unique way but that the full effort of creating one’s life involves the contributions of many.
Other choreographers/performers doing site-specific work and dance installation include Nina Madsen Dance, Kira Blazek, Amy Morrow, Living Water Dance Community, Anna Bennett, Maggie Boyett, and Portico Dans Theatre. Viewers will be walked through the tunnel system by docents, moving to a new place underground to see each dance work. Have a blast — we will see you there.