DanceForce Member: Lois Welk
Artists: Remi Harris, Mark Schmidt
Community Partners: American Dance Asylum; Arts of the Southern Finger Lakes; Meghan O’Toole
Bring It Home, a mulit-year artist residency program for dance artist Mark Schmidt and his artistic partner, Remi Harris, came to a halt in 2020. Fortunately their initial visit to Corning, NY in 2019 created a good foundation of allies. In January 2021 an exciting opportunity emerged to align Mark & Remi’s project with a larger community effort- a demonstration event re-envisioning Corning Civic Plaza, as a cultural venue, animated by public art. The space includes a covered skating rink, perfect for rain-or-shine fresh air events.
Our original primary goals were to support the artist’s process, soften America’s rural/urban social divide and develop appreciation for the artist’s work in their hometown community. Now, in addition, it was our goal to draw attention to the skating rink with a large opening event, to give student dancers an opportunity to perform with professionals, to engage with the local community and to usher in an era of activity benefiting future generations in an animated public space.
Led by Meghan O’Toole, a local arts advocate and certified Creative Placemaker, under the sponsorship of Arts of Southern Finger Lakes, a 3 day demonstration event was produced in Corning Civic Plaza, Corning NY Sept 2-4, 2021. The Civic Social, co-created by Mark Schmidt and Remi Harris, performed by a cast of fifteen performers including DJ Krunk Pony, kicked off Imagine: Public Art in the Plaza. The free dance performance, followed by a dance-party, was attended by nearly 300 people.
May 21-23, 2021: Artists’ site visit
July 24-August 28, 2021: 10 2-hour Zoom rehearsals
Sept 1, 2021: 3-9pm rehearsal on site
Sept 2, 2021: 3-5pm final rehearsal
7pm performance: The Civic Social, followed by a dance-party
Social Media was the primary marketing tool and it was a joint effort of the American Dance Asylum, Inc., The Arts of Southern Finger Lakes, Mark Schmidt, Remi Harris and the participants. A new line dance, created by Mark and Remi – The Market St Slide – was shared through social media leading up to the performance. Audience members were eager to jump in when the cue was given for everyone to join including Bill Boland, the Mayor of City of Corning.
“This project represents a major diversion for me, as a presenter/producer. Mark Schmidt, Remi Harris and I became a team, a team willing to stay very flexible and very positive in the face of many unknowns and every changing pandemic protocols. The outcomes have exceeded our expectations. By joining forces with a larger community effort, we accomplished so much more than we could have accomplished as a stand-alone event. ”
– Lois Welk, DF member and producer of the event