This last weekend, The PlayGround had an on-site performance at The Kennedy Center for our upcoming performance of Acts of Arriving. We will be performing on the North Plaza, just adjacent to the Watergate Hotel. It is a large space, with lots of straight lines, next to two large buildings, and very open to the big sky above. When we arrived and began to discuss how to situate ourselves in this space, it was somewhat overwhelming. Often, as dancers, we wish we had more space (in the studio we're rehearsing, or the stage we're performing on), but, as they say, too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing.
The challenge with any site-specific, or site-semi-specific performance, is that the site can so easily dominate the performance. You have two choices (at minimum two) - either try to contrast the site to stand out against it, or blend into the site to a certain degree to integrate with it. You can do both in a single performance, of course, or ride the continuum from one end of this spectrum to the other. Some sites are more appropriate to integrate with, and others are more inviting to contrast.
The North Plaza at The Kennedy Center, with its white stone floor and straight lined walls, highly manicured bushes opening to the sky, and its large gold-ish pillars, seems to invite contrast. There are not many details in this place, just a vista with a view. So, we choose to place Acts of Arriving along one of the walls, just over from the Potomac River, with the sky overhead. For the majority of the dance the site will frame our work, without direct interaction or comment.
About two thirds of the way through the performance there is a section in which the dancers spread out to interact with the space more directly. This section is more specifically site-specific. The other Acts of Arriving sites (Mount Rainier/Joe's Movement Emporium, Brookland/Dance Place, and Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park) are rich in details with many areas to explore. The Kennedy Center has space. Plenty of it. But, not many nooks and cranies to explore. Thankfully, we were able to find three serparate spaces for the dancers to create something specific, and unique.
Here is a short video of Daniela and Anthony exploring thier spaces: