gloATL gave its first of five free, public dance performances, "Utopia Station #1," on Friday at the corner of 15th and Peachtree streets. The exhilarating hour-long work featured 16 dancers seemingly risking life and limb while interacting with cars in the middle of Peachtree and tumbling down church steps, all while crowds gathered and watched with wonderment. Friday's dance featured music by Sonic Generator. gloAtL has given many of these types of public dance performances, including at a MARTA station, which combine the flash-mob mentality with a choreographed experience. Founder Lauri Stallings was kind enough to email some answers to questions I had after seeing Friday's performance.
What was the piece about for you?
I am interested in ways to slow the world down. We know how to speed it up, but how do we warp it, literally delay the inevitable. I found the first stages of this on a particular physical plane, in physics it would be whatever isn’t down, up or in between and that’s where I found the physical language for the first station. Its an unusual spot, because even though nothing "lands," everything sticks.
Why do you like to do public performances like that?
They feel like diplomatic exercises. If steps toward world peace treaties were always manifest into physical, contemporary art form, this is what I imagine them looking like. glo is a public artist, I am a public artist, which means constant negotiations.
Can dance bring about world peace?
It already has, many times over.
Do you ever get nervous that one of the dancers will get hit by a car?
We work daily to understand and re-learn the human body, so that it is terribly agile, efficient and fluid anywhere it finds itself-= whether that be on a proscenium stage, in the middle of an intersection, or sprinting down a street with a few thousand folks in tow. I have found a huge difference between being on high alert and being worried about people's safety. We focus on the high alert and sometimes the focus is more on our collaborators, such as this past Friday's work, and our friends sonic generator- their first public work as an ensemble!
How much of the performance is improv and how much choreographed?
The entire work is choreographed, up to the proper "end." Then we negotiate with the public on when glo leaves/exits (out of sight!).
How do you choose the music to go along with a dance performance?
I am informed of the sonic world by the particular space, textures I am using physically in the work, and whether the music used has to carry through to the "next work." in the case of Friday eve, knowing sonic generator was with us (musicians that played live), we wanted to begin the early stages of investigating composer David Lang's music, that sonic and glo will be creating a full evening work to in spring 2013. Other music selections were introduced Friday eve as a theme that will run through all of "liquid culture." An example of that is the "The Tales of Hoffmann" (opera) I used. In two weeks, on July 20/21, it will be played and sung live by the Atlanta opera!
What makes it a successful performance for you?
That conversations erupt due to the experience- look, feel, hear, smell, touch, think= conversation.
Do you get nervous before or during a performance?
I wake up each morning afraid. The few days I haven't, I know those are the days I have not challenged or reached the furthest I can. Comfort is overrated.
More photos from the performance after the break
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