Written by Dancer Nicholas Sciscione
Stephen Petronio Company has just ended its two-year residency at the Joyce Theater. The residency was an amazing opportunity for us to feel as if we had a home base within New York City. Even though the residency is over, our connections with the theater, staff, and rehearsal space at DANY Studios are as strong as ever.
We thought it would be an interesting idea to bring the company back to the streets, so we had a spur of the moment Pop-Up Performance on the corner of 27th Street and 10th Avenue. It was an amazing chance to bring our new material to an audience, whether they liked it or not!
As dancers we dance everyday with the idea of performing in a proscenium, which in a dance studio is represented by a mirror. It can be a useful tool but can also paralyze a dancer with judgment. One of the most refreshing aspects of performing outdoors is the idea of the proscenium being washed away. When you take away the “front,” a whole world of new perspectives is realized; movement can no longer be angled and directed to a viewer’s line of sight. All bets are off since the viewer has the ability to choose their perspective of the dance freely, whether it be from their kitchen window or during a jog on the track around the field.
As a dancer, the challenge then becomes embodying the movement entirely, in every dimension possible. It is no longer just dancing, but materializing the feeling inside your own body. It becomes necessary to connect to the environment around you. As we were whipping and slashing about on the soccer field, it became clear that the same sort of energy you would bring to a theater does not necessarily serve the same purpose on AstroTurf. If you fail to realize that you are surrounded by massive buildings on all sides, then you become lost in the background. It was a whole new challenge for us to embody Stephen’s movement in the seemingly endless space that is New York City.
However, the most exhilarating part is to connect to other people through movement when they least expect it. Hopefully there will be many more Pop-Up Performances to come!