Figures in the Field Four

Julie Nathanielsz and Cindy Stevens in SMALL CATASTROPHES. Photo by Jim Self

Year: 2019-2020
DanceForce Member: Jim Self
Artists: MeeAe Caughey; Lauren Cranidiotis; Kathy Lucas; Amanda Moretti; Julie Nathanielsz; Megan Nicole; Cindy Stevens; Indira White
Community Partner: Cherry Arts Space
Audience: 428
County: Tompkins

The mission of this project was to introduce, deepen, and stimulate activity within the fields of site-specific outdoor and indoor/outdoor movement work. An indoor performance, ‘Dance Dialogues,’ originally scheduled for May, 2020 at the Cherry Arts Space, was postponed and eventually canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the artists received special compensatory funds from the National Endowment for the Arts CARES Act Award. ‘Dance Dialogues’ program will not be revived, but there is an effort to work with these artists in the coming year once the pandemic restrictions are loosened.

In order to continue working with artists and audiences in Tompkins County during the pandemic, a replacement virtual dance project was created with local dancers. This changed the overall project into an investigation into outdoor dance activities with two distinct realizations.

The first (pre-COVID), ‘Small Catastrophes’, created and performed by Cynthia Stevens and Julie Nathanielsz, was realized three times in Ithaca’s Six Mile Creek gorge. The site is a wildflower preserve within walking distance of downtown Ithaca. A total of 138 people attended on October 4, 5, and 6, 2019. Cindy and Julie rehearsed ten times on site, with at least 100 people informally observing. Tightly scripted, the performances varied depending on the weather conditions, from cool and slightly rainy to warm and sunny. The creek sounds and some singing by the dancers as they moved in and out of the water provided rich and visual soundscapes. Audiences of mixed age were notified of logistics and location via social media, e-mail blasts and posted notices.

The second and newly created realization is a re-purposed on-line event series designed by video and dance artist MeeAe (Mandy) Caughey.“Visceral” is a curated collection of five solo dances featuring a diverse and newly emerging group of Ithaca dancer/choreographers. This project was created to offer a space for dancers to release and transform the turbulent energy of this time, and in turn, provide a visceral release and connection for the viewer. Each piece was performed in an outdoor location of the dancer’s choosing. MeeAe filmed each dancer with an intimate socially distanced audience of the dancer’s choosing (1-4 people). These performances are to be edited and streamed on-line via The Cherry Arts in a series of episodes launching on Friday, November 27th, 2020. All performances will begin streaming at 7pm on the following dates: Kathy Lucas – 11/27/20; Amanda Moretti – 12/18/20; Indira White – 1/15/21; Megan Nicole – 2/19/21; Lauren Cranidiotis – 3/19/21.

“Visceral” will be streaming free of charge in order to make it as accessible as possible.

Donations are welcome. About 200 viewers are expected during the initial virtual showings, and more viewers over time.

This project is opening new doors to virtual performance among local artists and presenting new structural possibilities for future projects.