Drawing on the body of research in site-specific art (Hill & Paris, 2006; Kaye, 2000; Kwon, 2004; Suderberg, 2000), I discuss and reflect on the experience of creating site-specific performance in public spaces, with reference to on-going participation in the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival. Site-specific dance can be understood as a collaboration with, and response to, the elements of a particular place, including the physical features, the emotional and sensory nature of the site, and its cultural history and use. Underlying the decision to create site-specific dance was a commitment I shared with the Festival to enhance community well being and foster social and cultural cohesion through free and accessible performances. In particular, we shared an intention to delight and surprise, using choreography and performance to encourage audiences to experience the familiar public places of the gardens differently. Researching the aesthetic and poetic aspects of the gardens’ designs provided inspiration for performances that embodied reflective and meditative states, sensuality and vitality. Two works, ‘Fluid echoes dance’ performed in the Japanese Garden and ‘Dancing through paradise’ performed in the Indian Char Bagh Garden will be discussed.
|Keywords:||Site-specific, Contemporary dance, Performance, Public Gardens, Arts Festival|
Senior Lecturer, School of Education, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand
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