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Site-Specific and Installation Performances

This is an excerpt from Producing Dance With HKPropel Access by Robin L. Kish,Wilson Mendieta,Jennifer Backhaus,Marc Jordan Ameel,Samantha Waugh,Kerri Canedy & Todd P. Canedy.

Performances that are created for a specific space (often not a theatre space) are called site-specific works. An installation is when a work originally created for the stage or another site is “installed” in a new, often unconventional site. Some performances aren’t meant to take place in a conventional theatre or stage. Site-specific and installation performances may take place outdoors, in homes, in nature, or in other nontraditional performance spaces. In both cases, as it was mentioned before, dance can and does occur everywhere. Any production elements added to a performance space should add value to an already invaluable thing: dance. The art of dance does not depend on these things but should thrive in their midst. To dance is necessary but where and how is only secondary.

However, with site-specific work, the where and the how take a different type of precedence. Site-specific dance aims to break down conventions regarding what theatrical elements are needed for dance to exist. This breakdown of “the standards” challenges the status quo beyond using lighting, sound, and scenic design. It also introduces what the relationship between performance and audience ought to be. In a traditional setting, there are specific guidelines for what the role of the audience is during a performance. For site-specific work, the audience brings an unpredictability that must be considered.

Flash Mobs: One of the most dominant subgenres of site-specific dance to emerge in recent years is the flash mob. Dancers and choreographers are establishing companies dedicated to this (not) impromptu style. Have you heard of You have now! Theatre students effectively execute a flash mob in the quad, raising awareness of an upcoming musical performance. Onlookers get a surprise and enjoy the (song and) dance. Flash mobs may be marketing stunts or be presented as a unique performance unto themselves. Theatre students stage a flash mob on the quad to raise awareness of an upcoming performance.

Visit HKPropel to complete assignment 10.1, Planning the Audience Experience.

More Excerpts From Producing Dance With HKPropel Access