Interaction in the XXI century: How to handle technology and interact face to face while maybe…dancing.
Malashock Dance Company presents its second annual Engagement Ring series which will have its third event January 16th at their Truxtun Road studios in Point Loma. Entitled The People’s Opera House, created by Aurora Lagattuta and Tony Allard, the piece will translate into a very unique experience – set in different rooms throughout the property, presented in a ‘micro-theatre’ style and performed six times each evening. Just thinking about that alone, is a reason to go see it. I had the opportunity to sit down with Aurora and Tony to discuss the process on Opera House and how it came about.
Aurora Lagattuta, teacher at Malashock Dance and somebody who has been living in San Diego for only a year after spending the past years in Northern Spain and Berlin, is a dancer and choreographer. In her recent experience, Lagattuta has seen a lot of interactive pieces, something that inspired her to create the Engagement Ring.
Tony Allerd, originally from Kansas, teaches at Cal State San Marcos and Southwestern College. Just like Aurora, he is engaged artistically in works that are experimental and push the boundaries between established categories. “This piece is very focused on the audience being the activator, the catalyst” shared Tony.
And how did you two meet and decide to create this collaboration piece?
“Tony was a dancer in the last piece I did, when I first moved back to San Diego I was really excited to experiment with some of the things I was doing abroad and I did a piece at Art Produce Gallery in North Park. I had an open call for dancers of any age, experience, background, skill level… I got 20 very diverse people, and Tony was one of them. I met Tony as a performer” recounted Aurora. In that meeting she learned how much Tony had to share, his capacity and they decided to put their heads together and create. “He’s a great performer!” Aurora added.
Stand Tall was the name of the piece showcased at The Resonating Chamber in Ramona; Tony was expanding his work as a performer. “I said YES, I need to do this. Aurora is very astute in bringing all the performers up to the level of going way beyond your potential. We put our heads together over at Lestat’s and we did it…What I am contributing to the piece (The People’s Opera House) as a videographer, is the projections and live interactive new media aspects like a component at some point, where people are going to draw on an iPad”. The public’s drawings will project on to the dancers which ‘illustrates’ in a way how people are viewing the choreography. “I think today people are very skilled at using their phone, their fingers and we have a decent relationship with technology. I wanted to take that with dance and see how the two could interact” said Aurora.
What is dancing?
This is a question that the creators of the piece ask themselves and try to find the answer to in Opera House. Breaking the meaning apart and opening what it is. “I think we all dance throughout the day, in our own little way with all the movements that we do. I think we crave having a way to express that more and, I think that in our culture after a certain age, that is not allowed…That is why I love The Engagement Ring because it is like, -Hey! Let’s ask the audience to participate, to co-create.”
In parts of the piece, people’s movements are going to dictate the music. The audience will be asked to move in the space and interact with the projections. In one room there will be word projected and people will be asked to catch those words. Six different rooms conform this piece, with a different vibe and musicality going ‘live’ simultaneously with different audiences. “It’s a different sort of game if you will, where the audience is creating the sound, the movement or the video, perhaps all three. Some rooms are more complicated than others”. Detailed Lagattuta.
As you come into the space with 9 to 14 other goers, you will get a map that will lead you into each performance room. You will also have a guide. The time spent in each room will be 7 minutes. There will be 10 dancers total and 12 live musicians. In the libretto room for example, there will be a librarian speaking words in Italian, people will be invited to catch words. “It is like making a song, a very playful way for the audience to get involved. We wanted to make little tasks to create movement. Rather than telling people -ok, dance- and not being intimidating. When people catch words in Libretto, they start moving and using the space, getting creative. Is that dancing? I think that kind of is. We are encouraging people to dance without telling them ‘ok now show us your moves’”. Explained the creative duo.
Every invitation will be subtle. It all depends on the level people want to interact with the elements in each room. Crowd source creativity and democratized virtuosity is how Tony refers to it. “Social media shows us various ways to participate from very personal to very public” said the videographer.
These creatives are also exploring new ways of interaction, being we don’t do it ‘face-to face’ that much anymore. “We don’t hang out on porches anymore and chat, we post a picture through the inter webs and that is the major way in which we are communicating. I think one of the reasons dance and theater and the arts are trying to do these kinds of things because that is what a live performance offers that a screen performance does not” detailed Aurora.
“There are these distinct movements of improvisation and audience movements that we cannot predict, we can kind of have an idea but, that is why it is exciting. That is why I got into the performance art, because in the structure there is always an opportunity to improvise and respond to the moment that you are in” concluded Tony.
The People’s Opera House will take place Saturday January 16th at 8:00pm at Malashock Dance, The Abbe Wolfsheimer Studio.
Pre-sale is $10.00 and $15.00 at the door. For more information, please click here.