Burning Spirits

Pick of the Crop Dance's BURNING SPIRITS at Buffalo Canalside Sponsored by DF member Margaret Kaiser
Pick of the Crop Dance’s BURNING SPIRITS at Buffalo Canalside

Year: 2014-2015
DanceForce Member: Margaret Kaiser
Artists: Elaine Gardner, Dave Ruchs, Curt Steinzor
Community Partners: Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, Friends of the Buffalo Story, Nichols School, SUNY at Buffalo
Audience: 2,050
County: Erie

BURNING SPIRITS, a site-specific waterfront dance piece, performed on August 17, 18, 24, and 25, was inspired by the Buffalo Story of the mid-1800’s. Placed within The Ruins—the architectural remains of a saloon beside the Commercial Slip that was frequented by 19th-century Erie Canal workers— BURNING SPIRITS blends the music of that time period with today’s diverse styles of dance. Artistic Director Elaine Gardner created the choreographic roadmap for this piece, which featured 24 local dancers from various dance companies and studios, and two guest artists from the Lucinda Childs Dance Company. Musician/composer Curt Steinzor arranged the music provided by music historian Dave Ruchs. Over two thousand people attended the four free performances and four open rehearsals. The diverse audience included those who responded to performance announcements, as well as those who just happened to be strolling the waterfront boardwalk with their families and were lured to the performance site by the music.

For many in attendance, this was their first exposure to a contemporary site-specific dance piece. Our best measure of success was the fact that the crowd stayed throughout the performances; no one wandered away, nor disengaged from the performers. There were also those who willingly participated with the dancers during the final social dance piece. BURNING SPIRITS not only reached a broad spectrum of attendees, but it also brought together five different performance organizations as active collaborators. The community partners included the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, who communicated to Margaret Kaiser that these were the most successful performances at the Waterfront; the Friends of the Buffalo Story, who supported Ms. Kaiser’s previous Waterfront dance productions and has committed to future performances by Artistic Director Ms. Gardner; and Nichols School, who provided free rehearsal space. Jon Furman, visual artist for Nuthatch Design, provided a significant discount for the layout and printing of a beautiful full color foldout program. The August production was the final result of intensive planning that began in February 2014.