Halestone’s Intermediate and Advanced Seminar in Modern Dance students, under the direction of Susanna Young, have taken the past 7 weeks of digital learning to delve into the world of site-specific choreography.

Due to covid-19, so much of our dance pedagogy had to adapt to online learning. A lot of questions arose about how to keep dance at the forefront when our bodies are confined, waiting, and potentially under attack from a deadly virus. We looked to site-specific work, a practice that embraces non-traditional dance spaces and has always centered the relationship between the moving body and its environment. By doing so, we are reminded that dance exists everywhere. Everything contributes to a dance: our history; our understanding of self; and, most importantly right now, our space. And if everything contributes, then the dance never really begins or ends. Our conversations are a part of the dance. Our dreams are a part of the dance. Our homework done at the desk we’ve been sitting at for eight hours is part of the dance. What we ate for breakfast becomes our pliés and leaps. When we perform, or in this case, film ourselves, we are just putting a container on longer, larger invitations to question and explore our existence. Site-specific work reminds us the dance has always been there, waiting in space, just like us. And the dance, through collective memory and experience, lives on. The dance does not end. It only evolves, like the space around us.

We welcome you to their remote showcase. Both artists and audience members benefit from discussion and questions. If you know these young artists we encourage you to provide feedback or ask questions about their work. If you don’t know them, but would like to provide feedback or ask a question, contact Mauri Connors at halestonedirector@gmail.com. In class discussions with Susanna, students are accustomed to using the Liz Lerman Critical Response Protocol. Providing feedback and asking questions using that framework could be the most productive way to provide feedback to these students.

Mauri Connors & Susanna Young, May 2020

Forward and Back, by Margaret Branner

For my site specific piece, I was drawn to an often overlooked piece of my basement, an old, brown, worn down rocking chair. As I constructed the piece, I reflected on the role that rocking chairs have played and continue to play in the world. I specifically thought of how rocking chairs connect people to others, and the environment around them. I thought about porches, and how the chair provides a place of steady comfort for individuals to watch the world go by. I thought about absent presence, and how rocking chairs can move and provide imagery with and without human activity. As I made the piece in the chair, I found that a simple piece of furniture brought to life images I had never explored. Site specific dancing provided me another way of approaching choreography, and I found myself creating strong movement in areas and spaces I would least expected it.

Mr. Clamp, by Liam Courtney Collins

I made up the basics of my dance in a room with a window looking out to my deck which felt like the perfect place to set the piece. A lot of the parts of the dance are inspired by objects lying on the ground, such as the clamp.

Blindness, by Alexis Henk

I chose to dance with the chair because I thought that would be the best option for my site-specific piece. Later on I decided that my relationship with the blinds and window relates to COVID-19.

Sinking, by Riley Kuehner

I decided to make my dance in a door frame because it provided a small and contained space. I explored ways to make connections with different parts of the door and also ways to break those connections. This dance was also influenced by my emotions while I created it.

Sunday Evening, by Ellee Russell

I decided to theme this piece off cleaning up and preparing for a new week.

Between books and a door, by Emily McClung

I wanted to explore the space between the bookshelf and the wall because I had never used that corner while taking dance class.

The Creek, by Anousheh Todd

I came up with my piece because I like the water and the trees so I decided to do it in the creek.

Stasis, by Arden Courtney Collins

The dance was initially set in a small room, and, because of the lack of space, I made the dance small and stationary, using the chair as a table. I tried to explore how I could tell a story and keep the dance interesting using only gesture.