Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Beacon Dance goes site-specific at Decatur Cemetery

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Dancer Juana Farfan of Beacon Dance warms up for the three free performances of Fire this weekend at Decatur Cemetery.
  • Dancer Juana Farfan of Beacon Dance warms up for the three free performances of "Fire" which will take place this weekend in the historic Decatur Cemetery.
If you're driving past a cemetery this weekend and you see an unusual amount of twirling, leaping and port-de-bras among the tombstones, it's possible that you're witnessing the start of the zombie apocalypse, but it's more likely you're catching a glimpse of Atlanta's recent trend in site-specific dance performance.

Beacon Dance will become the first organization ever to present a performance in the Decatur Cemetery this weekend on March 2, 3, and 4. The performances will be held at 6 p.m. each evening, and all of them are free and open to the public.

The performances are part of an on-going series of site-specific works by Beacon Dance based on the four primal elements: water, earth, fire and air. Water Study took place in October at the stream in the Baker Woodlands on Emory campus; Earth was performed in November on the Beltline not far from Piedmont Park; Fire will take place this weekend at the Decatur Cemetery; and the final installment, Air, will be performed at the arts facility B-Complex in southwest Atlanta in early May.

Featuring a cast of nine performers, Fire will allow the audience to navigate throughout the space to view the dancers from a variety of perspectives with live sound accompaniment by composer Jon Ciliberto.

The cemetery location was selected in response to the way that Beacon's artistic director D. Patton White has been developing the project, with the elements serving metaphorically for the various stages of life, with water as the origin of life, earth as the process of living, fire as death and air as what happens after death.

“We had initially looked at a park near the Decatur Fire Department, but then found out that the park was under renovation, and so was no longer available,” says White. “This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the location in the cemetery is quite extraordinary.”

Although such site-specific performances have become a strong trend recently in Atlanta dance, the current Elemental series actually represents a revisiting of performances White's group first created starting in 1998. Beacon performed the original Water Study in 1998 in the basement of City Hall East, which was built over the site of fresh water springs. Beacon took on each of the elements in subsequent years, one for each year: Earth followed in 1999 on City Hall East's first floor; Fire was performed at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; and Air rounded out the series at B Complex,as it will this round, as well.

Beacon Dance performs Fire at the Decatur Cemetery this weekend Friday-Sunday, March 2-4, at 6 p.m. each day. The entrance to the Decatur Cemetery is at the intersection of Church and Bell streets in downtown Decatur. The performance is free and will last approximately 45 minutes.

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