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Site Dance

Choreographers and the Lure of Alternative Spaces

Edited by Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik

Publication Year: 2011

In recent years, site-specific dance has grown in popularity. In the wake of groundbreaking work by choreographers who left traditional performance spaces for other venues, more and more performances are cropping up on skyscrapers, in alleyways, on trains, on the decks of aircraft carriers, and in a myriad of other unexpected locations worldwide.

In Site Dance, the first anthology to examine site-specific dance, editors Melanie Kloetzel and Carolyn Pavlik explore the work that choreographers create for nontraditional performance spaces and the thinking behind their creative choices. Combining interviews with and essays by some of the most prominent and influential practitioners of site dance, they look at the challenges and rewards of embracing alternative spaces.

The close examinations of the work of artists like Meredith Monk, Joanna Haigood, Stephan Koplowitz, Heidi Duckler, Ann Carlson, and Eiko Otake provide important insights into why choreographers leave the theatre to embrace the challenges of unconventional venues.

Site Dance also includes more than 80 photographs of site-specific performances, revealing how the arts, and movement in particular, can become part of and speak to our everyday lives. Celebrating the often unexpected beauty and juxtapositions created by site dance, the book is essential reading for anyone curious about the way that these choreographers are changing our experience of the world one step at a time.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

Site Dance has given me the great pleasure of visiting with old friends and new, in the world of site-specific dance. When I started Dancing in the Streets in 1984, I hadn’t a clue of the power of the medium nor of the inner strength of the artists who defy all reasonable odds...

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pp. xiii-xvi

Site Dance consists of a collection of artists who seem to relish frustration. Negotiating with government officials, police, community members, and business owners or struggling with potentially dangerous equipment or landscapes, sitespecific choreographers...

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pp. xvii-xviii

When creating a collection such as this, the task can seem incredibly daunting. After all, who in their right mind would put 17 independent and determined artistic directors together with two highly persistent artist-editors and expect any end result, much...

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pp. 1-24

Walking down the street, lost in thought about tomorrow’s job woes or this weekend’s possibilities, you start in surprise. A woman dressed in a stylish business suit is rolling down the sidewalk directly in your path. She pauses, balancing on one hip, just as a crowd...

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Part 1. Excavating Place: Memory and Spectacle

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pp. 25-32

In her article, “Looking for the Invisible,” Joanna Haigood muses, “What if we really had the capacity of trans-temporal perception? What would it be like to view the intersection of different events separated in time but not in space...

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1. Meredith Monk

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pp. 33-51

Meredith Monk is one of the pioneers of the site-specific performance genre. From her earliest experiences in New York, Monk began pushing the boundaries of postmodern dance and music. In her efforts to use nontraditional performing...

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2. Joanna Haigood

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pp. 52-63

Joanna Haigood is the artistic director of Zaccho Dance Theatre in San Francisco. From a San Francisco clock tower to airport terminals to the bucolic fields of Massachusetts, Haigood excavates the historical, architectural, and...

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3. Stephan Koplowitz

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pp. 64-83

Stephan Koplowitz is a director/choreographer who has developed a reputation for creating site-specific multimedia works in architecturally significant urban sites. Since receiving one of the first commissions by Dancing in...

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4. Heidi Duckler

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pp. 84-103

Heidi Duckler is the artistic director of Collage Dance Theatre, a site-specific dance company based in Los Angeles. A choreographer who delves deeply into historical and community elements for her work, Duckler adopts overlooked sites...

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5. Ann Carlson

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pp. 104-118

Ann Carlson has been attracted to unusual sites from her earliest efforts in the performance world. After her university experiences in the West and then performing with Meredith Monk in New York in the 1980s, Carlson went on to create site-specific...

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Part 2. Environmental Dialogues: Sensing Site

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pp. 119-124

What is it about the public sphere that intrigues the site artist? Site choreographers often assert that art in public spaces can impact the largest number of people and can help shape social and cultural dialogues. Olive Bieringa, Otto Ramstad, Leah Stein, and Marylee Hardenbergh would all concur...

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6. Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad

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pp. 125-141

Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad are directors of the BodyCartography Project, a site-specific dance and improvisation company based in Minneapolis. Since 1997, the BodyCartography Project has created more than 150 performance events in...

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7. Leah Stein

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pp. 142-157

Leah Stein, the artistic director of the Leah Stein Dance Company, loves to engage with environments in both wild and urban spaces. For the past 15 years, she has made site works in and around her hometown of Philadelphia, as well as in places...

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8. Marylee Hardenbergh

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pp. 158-172

Marylee Hardenbergh is the artistic director of Global Site Performance and is an artist-in-residence at the Center for Global Environmental Education at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. For over twenty years, Hardenbergh has...

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Part 3. Revering Beauty: The Essence of Place

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pp. 173-178

Every site-specific choreographer expresses a desire for audiences to notice place. Many also want us to contemplate the effect of our behaviors on our surroundings. They may wish audiences to commit to environmental efforts or defend...

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9. Eiko Otake

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pp. 179-198

Eiko Otake, of the well-known group Eiko & Koma, has been performing site works on and off since the 1970s. Since 1995, Eiko & Koma has actively conceived and performed many site-adaptive pieces that attempt to integrate landscape...

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10. Sally Jacques

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pp. 199-216

Sally Jacques and her site-specific aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light, have been performing in pools, on hotel walls, in airplane hangars, and in government strongholds in Austin, Texas, for two decades. Moving easily from the abstract to the...

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11. Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig

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pp. 217-232

Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig are the artistic directors of PEARSON-WIDRIG DANCETHEATER, a company that presents site performances and conducts site workshops all over the globe. Invested in siteadaptive works that may...

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Part 4. Civic Interventions: Accessing Community

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pp. 233-238

Because of its placement in public spaces, site-specific dance is an accessible art form. People who might never frequent a theater or who do not conceive of dance as part of their daily lives may come across site-specific dances on the side...

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12. Jo Kreiter

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pp. 239-252

Jo Kreiter is the artistic director of Flyaway Productions, a San Francisco– based dance company. Since 1996, Kreiter’s site dances have addressed issues of political relevance...

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13. Tamar Rogoff

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pp. 253-267

Tamar Rogoff has been creating site works in her hometown, New York City, and abroad for over fifteen years. Rogoff often joins professional artists and community members as performers in her work; as such, neighborhood children, elderly...

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14. Martha Bowers

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pp. 268-290

Martha Bowers is the executive director of Dance Theatre Etcetera, based in Brooklyn, New York. Since 1993, DTE has presented major site-specific works on the Red Hook, Brooklyn, waterfront as well as in other national and international...


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pp. 291-308


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pp. 309-316

About the Author

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pp. 317

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045900
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813036939
Print-ISBN-10: 0813036933

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 84 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011