Roadside Attraction

ROADSIDE ATTRACTION by Third Rail Projects
ROADSIDE ATTRACTION by Third Rail Projects

Year: 2013-2014
DanceForce Member: Cynthia Williams
Artist: Third Rail Projects
Community Partners: Billsboro Winery, Geneva Recreation Department, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Audience: 223
County: Ontario

The goal of the project was to bring innovative choreography to unexpected venues for non-traditional audiences; bringing dance out of the theater and into the public domain has the potential to awaken new interest in the arts and remove some of the traditional barriers of perception–that dance is elitist, difficult, or inaccessible to “regular” people. By performing “Roadside Attraction” in three very different venues—college campus green space, a Finger Lakes winery, and the downtown Farmer’s Market—we hoped to reach a wide spectrum of audience members, including those who intended to see a performance and those who simply wandered by when it was happening.

The planning process began in January, 2013 with conversations with Zach Morris. Early summer was a time where we also included Toni Smith in conversations, hoping to coordinate an upstate tour. While it was not possible to schedule our events back to back, conversations with Toni were helpful in designing the tour, approaching potential venues, and building on some of the publicity and marketing initiatives she started.

Third Rail Projects’ artists performed “Roadside Attraction” 9/10/13 on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges campus, 9/11/13 at Billsboro Winery, and 9/12/13 at the Geneva Farmer’s Market in downtown Geneva. The piece is set in and around a vintage 1970’s Coleman camper with many familiar props and accessories: a picnic table, lawn chairs, tupperware, fishing pole, beach towels and a plastic cooler. The narrative strands include family dynamics: a teenage daughter and her boyfriend, a bookish teenage daughter, a mother wondering where the romance in her life went, a father who would rather spend time on his own pursuits, and how these personal stories collide on a family summer vacation. “Roadside Attraction” utilizes familiar music of the 1970’s (both taped and performed live) as well as a composed score that weaves together cheerful melodies and poignant ballads. In addition to the three performances, members of Third Rail Projects taught two master classes: Zach Morris taught improvisation 9/10/13 and Rebekah Morin and Niko Tsocanos taught modern dance technique 9/11/13, and Zach Morris spoke in a dance history class 9/11/13 about creating site-specific choreography. The company also held an open rehearsal on 9/11/13. Performers in “Roadside Attraction” were Elizabeth Carena, Rebekah Morin, Tara O’Con, Tori Sparks, Niko Tsocanos and Carlton Cyrus Ward. Co-artistic director Zach Morris was joined by co-artistic director Jennine Willett for the tour.

Promotional and marketing activities included posters, fliers, and postcards with the performances and master classes, distributed around campus and throughout town; a web article/press release on the HWS Daily Update; a two-page article with photos in the Finger Lakes Times, and a follow up photo from the Geneva Farmer’s market published in the Finger Lakes Times; an e-announcement circulated to the HWS community and Dance Department mailing list; web announcements by Billsboro Winery in their newsletter and webpage, and postcards to the Geneva Recreation department for distribution at Farmer’s Market in the weeks before the performance.

New community partners include Billsboro Winery, and the Geneva Recreation department. The performance at the Farmer’s Market attracted a very diverse audience, the majority of whom had never attended a concert dance performance.