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Every third Sunday in Wilmington, North Carolina a collection of artists, dancers, choreographers, and filmmakers meet at Cameron Art Museum to share and talk about dance. Dance Cooperative, the organization behind these free events, creates a unique space for the public to view dance works in progress and offer valuable feedback that may impact the final product. These informal showings give audiences the opportunity to see how dance works are developed from conception to creation. Cultivating a nurturing and safe environment to receive feedback, viewers are encouraged to provide feedback from an objective point of view. Language is very important and the most helpful feedback is articulated from a place of aesthetic observation including: musical choice, movement composition, costuming, and spatial arrangement and design.
The informal showing was structured to give each choreographer the opportunity to provide relevant background about his/her work including questions and concerns, places of exploration, and possible considerations. Each presentation was immediately followed by feedback to the artists. For audience members who did not wish to speak out loud, pen and paper were provided to record thoughts and observations. Each work was accompanied by a film project, which tasked the audience to consider the collaboration of dance and film and its ability to deliver as the artists intended.
The informal showing began with a work titled Amphibian. Concentrated movements articulated by the hands and fingers recalled the movement quality of a frog. Smooth and fluid undulations of the spine seemed reminiscent of a snake. One woman remained predominantly downstage leaving space for two dancers in gray to occupy the upstage space. An abstract projection of shapes and colors pulled the eye to the available backspace, causing the mind to crave more use of depth by the dancers in motion.
The next piece was an untitled work by creators Anne and Dylan. The film illuminated a captivating piece of footage; I found myself wondering how the dancer was connected to the film and the man highlighted in the film. Conversation surrounding this piece seemed to inspire its creators, and they readily embraced the opportunity to make the work stronger.
Works continued to unfold in this fashion, offering different combinations of dance and film duos. Film appeared to work well in many instances, while in others the mediums seemed to complete causing a distraction rather than a clear collaboration. Choreographers and filmmakers alike seemed to be aware and sensitive to this fact, and it was evident that this consideration was deeply embedded into the development and continued progression of the works.
Providing a format to view works in progress is a courageous feat for choreographers and filmmakers alike. Dance Cooperative, in association with Cameron Art Museum, has provided the public with a unique opportunity to view works in their most vulnerable state. It is important that we continue to share dialogues and provide safe spaces for people to consider how they experience and talk about dance. These informal showings encourage audience participation at the ground level. It also provides a transparent look into how work is developed and influenced from conception to production.
The Dance Cooperative is committed to nurturing the dance community by providing affordable classes, rehearsal space and performance opportunities for those under-served artistically, culturally, and economically in the greater Wilmington area.
Informal showings are scheduled every third Sunday at Cameron Art Museum.