Movement at the Mills (part 1)

by karen Krolak

We dedicated our first episode of C2C: Connect to Choreography on SCATV earlier this month to the topic of site-specific work. To continue exploring this theme, we decided to chat with Andrea Blesso, curator for Movement at the Mills , about this exciting series at Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). Movement at the Mills' final installment for this season will feature Weber Dance, Sun Ho Kim & Dancers, and Kendra Heithoff on April 30th.

karen Krolak: Personally, what excites you about site-specific work as opposed to seeing dance in a more traditional setting?
Andrea Blesso: I feel that the dance world is in crisis right now. Between the limitation of funding and the loss of audience members with financial worries – it is getting tough to afford producing dance in traditional proscenium settings. I believe that site-specific work is the direction in which dance must go to survive. It also pushes dancers to explore movement outside of their training and develop new levels of audience connection. Which will bring new interest and breath into the discipline of dance.

kK: Are there any site-specific choreographers who really inspire you?
AB: It is very exciting to have Boston-based choreographers showing site-specific work. Most recently I have worked with lizroncka/Real-Time Performance Project and have watched Michael Jahoda’s White Box Project.

I am influenced by everything around me. Being married to an architect has invited me to see ‘sites’ from a different perspective, so I tend to let the actual site influence my movement and spark my creativity rather than my training or other choreographers.

kK: I know that you choreograph as well. Are you pursuing opportunities to create site-specific pieces?
AB: Although I consider myself a choreographer and improviser, most of my efforts are focused on creating dance opportunities at the BCA right now. In addition to the Movement at the Mills and Dance Residency programs, the BCA is incorporating dance as part of its high-level fundraising events. So not only am I directing the dance programs, but I get to lead and create site-specific dances for those fundraising events. Which is really fun!

kK: How did Movement at the Mills get started?
AB: The BCA is a wonderful organization that allows each staff member’s voice and ideas to be heard. When our Executive Director, Veronique Le Melle came on board in January 2009, she invited me to share my dance ideas. Movement at the Mills grew from there.

kK: Why did you want to develop this new project?
AB: Movement at the Mills is a unique program designed to meet clearly identified and unmet needs in the discipline of dance. In Boston, it remains difficult for smaller, local dance companies to find sufficient space in which to display their creative work. Movement at the Mills

kK: Can you describe the physical space for readers who have not been to an event there yet?
AB: The Mills Gallery is a fairly “raw” space - white walls, painted white plywood floor, and numerous small nooks throughout the gallery. This program is designed to use the Mills Gallery in an unexpected way and to showcase dance in an atypical performance setting. There are no stage lights or audience seating, as found in standard performances. Multiple stages will be performing throughout the evening to create an “exhibit” environment.

kK: Would you explain a little more about what you mean by an exhibit environment?
AB: Each Movement at the Mills session invites three local, independent dance companies to showcase complete or in-progress works. The audience is invited to walk through the space and view an “exhibit” of various movement styles; rather than artwork being displayed, it is dance that is displayed. Movement at the Mils is aimed to support young, high quality dance companies in the creation of new work or experimentation with existing work; to expand the public and artist’s vision of a standard dance performance format; to blur the lines between audience and performers.

kK: How have audiences responded to the first two installations of this series?
AB: Movement at the Mills has been pretty successful so far. The first ‘unveiling’ performance on October 29, 2009 had over 300 audience members and was a hit. The second performance on January 9, 2010 had approximately 200 audience members, in the midst of a snowstorm just after the Holidays. So we feel that there is a market for a program like this.

Check back tomorrow and we will continue on with information about how the program is curated...

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