First Friday Peformances
A new year is a good time to look back fondly on the memories past and ahead to the possibilities that await in the future. We are one month away from our third First Friday performance and each of these gives us a chance to create new work in an unconventional space while connecting to a wider audience range.
Our first time out at Phoenix First Friday was back in the summer of 2014 when we created an ambitious site-specific work at the Icehouse called “Graffiti Twister.” It was based on an improvisational version of the game Twister and had four colors: red, green, blue, and yellow. Each color was associated with an emotion that was conveyed in the music and the dance (Red/Angry, Green/Calm, Blue/Depressed, Yellow/Happy). Our resident composer, Jeff Ouper, created a musical phrase for each color and he and the group of musicians would improv off of this melody for a duration of 4-6 minutes while the dancers performed. The color was chosen by having an audience member spin a Twister dial, which determined the color and body part that would be dipped in a corresponding paint color. Then a die was rolled to determine the number of dancers that would be in the space. We had created a short phrase for each color connected to the mood and the dancers would improv off that phrase for the duration of the music. The floor was covered in canvas and the room was lit with only black-lights. Dancers were dressed all in white to accentuate the four colors of the blacklight paint that they would use to create shape on the canvas and each other as they danced. Once each set was completed, we’d start the process over again to have another randomly chosen dance begin again. This continued for the duration of the three hour exhibit and had quite a visual and auditory impact. View the Graffiti Twister photo gallery.
Our second First Friday performance was in the fall of 2015 and we created another improvisational dance and music experience, this time at The monOrchid Gallery called “Bingo Jam.” Again, our composer created musical melodies based on additive and improvisational techniques and we did the same for the dance. The theme was based on the game Bingo. We used ping-pong balls as our own Bingo balls with the letters B I N G O and the numbers 1-24. Bingo cards were available for our audience to play along. Each letter represented a different melody: B-Additive with a dancer paired to an instrument, I-Improvisational, N-No rules, G-Graffiti Twister music color of choice, O-Already created set work with piano accompaniment. An even number was equivalent to 4 or more dancers and an odd number was equivalent to 3 or less dancers performing for that given set. An audience member would be asked to draw a ball out of the cylinder and call out the letter and number. This would set the dance for that round and the musicians would play for 4-6 minutes while the dancers moved for the same duration. Phrases were created as a base for referenced material but dancers used improvisational tools to create movement on the spot as well as be able to listen and follow their matching instrument if that requirement was drawn. We themed the costumes as retro activewear with dual colored black and white tops to add contrast against the white wall that was the backdrop. View the Bingo Jam photo gallery.
For our upcoming First Friday show “Counting Cranes” we are again at The monOrchid Gallery but in a larger room with a white cyc wall. Although the music will be recorded this time, we are still using a chance method system in order to dictate the outcome of the performed material. The ten dance works we have created are a mix of learned choreography and improvisational movement. Each dance is assigned to one of five different crane colors, representing a mood for each piece. Green-2 large group works with all 8 dancers, Yellow-2 smaller ensemble works that are humorous in nature, Blue-2 duets that are serious and serene, Orange-2 fast paced large group works, Pink-1 aerial silks solo/duet or 1 random no rules improv/solo. There will be four containers in which audience members may drop a crane of their color choice to vote for the upcoming dance.
Four tall, cylindrical containers will serve as a place for audience members to cast their ballot for the color (mood) of the next dance. Voting is done by placing an origami crane of the desired color into the matching container. At the end of the each performance, the cranes will be counted and the color with the most votes will be presented next. This allows the audience to control the show order, making each of the three 1-hour shows a unique experience. We are excited for another First Friday performance where we get a chance to try out new ideas in an unconventional space.