As visitors enter they are greeted by a big, open space. Dancers practice in their individual groups spread throughout the gallery. Audience members file in and look around for a place to sit, however, there are only a few chairs lined up against the wall filled with Post-It notes that say “I love to make…”
Passerbys look through the window out of curiosity. There is no order, no stage and no curtains – just a floor and speakers.
The BU Dance Theater Group’s “Motion Art” Program presented the fourth collaborative site-specific performance of dancers, singers, artists, musicians, and poets to highlight the power of overlapping forms of art on Thursday at the 808 Gallery.
“It is a way to reach people who might not step inside a dance theater,” Micki Taylor-Pinney, the director of the BU dance program, said. “It also gives performance groups a chance to interact and make art together.”
The Motion Art event started in 2008 and was called “Alice in FitRec Land,” and occurred all over the FitRec Center. But Dance Theatre Group (DTG) has a history of performing in non-traditional spaces going back to its inception.
DTG is a Boston University student organization established in 1973, which makes it the “oldest” dance group on campus. It is dedicated to building a community that values dance as an art form.
According to Taylor-Pinney, DTG’s purpose is to “create opportunities for the study and enjoyment of all forms of dance and dance production.”
The theme of Motion Art this year was “What do you love to make?”
“We chose this theme to highlight how everyone is capable of creating meaningful things even if they do not consider them to be art,” Carli Dimeo, the Motion Art program coordinator, said. “This event was welcome to all “makers”; from dance makers to pizza makers, art is fully inclusive and we hope the audience felt like they were a part of a creative community.”
The program included performances from The Treblemakers, a Boston University a cappella group, BU Ballroom, West Coast Swing Club, a spoken word performer from Speak for Yourself, BU on Tap, students from a Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance improvisation class, and a structured improvisation piece arranged by Liz Roncka and performed by the PDP Movement Improvisation class. Visual artists, Dorian Dreyfuss and Tyler Inn presented work and a musician joined the DTG performers.
“I didn’t know there were so many groups on campus,” said Taylor Brahms (CFA ’21), a student in the School of Theater. “I was excited to see art that’s different from my own.”
Throughout the hour-long performance, performers move in different areas of the gallery and the audience was invited to move around them.
The audience was a key part of the night’s performances. They interacted with all the dancers and moved around the floor with them cheering while doing so. They snapped their fingers along with speakers whenever they related to the content.
BU on Tap captured some audience member’s attentions, even though they were fearful as tap is not as popular as it was in the 1930s. They hoped to make people fall in love with tap dance again.
“The piece we performed was all about Big Band music, so we hope the audience had fun with our performance, were impressed, and felt the need to watch tap dance videos and even some old tap dance films,” said a member of BU on Tap.
“I think there are some very niche performances,” said Allie Delgado (COM ’18). “I’ve never really seen a tap dancing performance, so it was really cool to see all of them come together and incorporate little, tiny bits of everything into one, great, grand piece.”
According to Dimeo, collaborating different mediums of art gives the audience an opportunity to gain interest in various forms of art.
“Each different medium speaks to the audience in different ways and by bringing them all together, we ensure that the audience will find a performance that resonates with them in a personal way,” said Dimeo.
She said bringing together different mediums of art also enlightens the artists themselves. Performing alongside another type of artist is inspiring and pushes the artists to become more innovative and inclusive in their work.
“The joy that both audience members and performers have experienced with this event have motivated [the BU Dance Theater Group] to keep hosting it every year and finding new ways to collaborate with different art groups,” Dimeo said.
Photos by Carolyn Komatsoulis.