Public transit exists as a utilitarian concept, to bring people from Point A to Point B. However, a local dance company is using Santa Monica’s Expo line as an artistic reference for a new out-door dance performance.
Donna Sternberg & Dancers will present Transit Dances on June 4 with three original site-specific dances close to three Expo Line stations Santa Monica.
Organizers said the local work is based on Trolley Dances in San Diego founded by Jean Isaacs. Sternberg said she was aware of the San Diego series and she brought the idea to Metro and Santa Monica.
“I liked the concept of bringing dance into the community using public transportation. Instead of having audiences come to a theater, we bring the theater to them,” she said.
Audiences will travel from the 26th St./Bergamot station to the 17th St. station and conclude at the 4th St. station. At each stop, tour guides will take audience members to a site where a world-premiere, site-specific dance will be performed by three diverse Southern California companies, then audiences will hop back on the Metro to the next performance stop.
Sternberg said staging performances in non-traditional settings allows artists and audiences to see things in new ways.
“A space that is enlivened by dance takes on new qualities and new energies and even after the performance ends you look at that space differently,” she said. “A choreographer can use unique elements in the space to incorporate into a dance, so that the space itself becomes another presence. Non-traditional spaces build a sense of community, the experience bonds audiences together. Taking performances out of traditional theater spaces makes them more accessible to the public and people who might not ordinarily come to a theater to see a performance may happen upon one that is presented outdoors or in some other kind of space.”
Her performance will be held in a nearby park and it will incorporate activities that might happen in a park as part of the movement. Physical elements of the park, such as trees and fences will also be incorporated into the show.
“We created much of the actual dance on-site, so the physical location played a big part in how the dance was shaped,” she said.
Holding the events in public allows the work to be seen by a diverse audience and some spectators will be unware of the performance before it begins.
“That’s one of the things that I enjoy about site-specific performances – that people all of sudden realize that there is something happening right in front of them that they didn’t know about,” she said. “There’s an element of surprise and usually delight when that happens.”
Each of the three performances was created independently and each is specific to its performance site. To further expand the diversity of the event, Sternberg specifically brought in dance companies with different backgrounds.
“I also wanted to showcase dances from different cultures, so in addition to the sites being different the types of dance are different,” she said. “JazzAntiqua is a jazz company, Arpana is an Indian company from the Bharata Natyam tradition and my company is contemporary. This kind of performance is a great way to introduce new types of dance to audiences who might not be familiar with them.”
Transit Dances begins at 26th St./Bergamot Metro stop in Santa Monica with stops at 17th St. and 4th St. Metro in Santa Monica on Sunday, June 4. Tours begin at 12 Noon and 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 advance purchase at http://transitdances.bpt.me. Visit www.dsdancers.com or call (310) 260-1198 for more information.
About the Featured Dance Companies
Arpana Dance Company is a premiere Bharata Natyam dance company that has performed in the US, Europe, Japan and India. Artistic Director Ramya Harishankar was awarded the Kala Seva Bharathi award by Bharat Kalachar, India for her contribution to Indian arts abroad, and her solo career spanning more than three decades has taken her all over the world performing in India, Asia, Europe, Australia and No. America. The company has received numerous prestigious grants and awards from governmental agencies, foundations and organizations. http://www.danceramya.com
Donna Sternberg & Dancers, founded in 1985, is an interdisciplinary contemporary dance company that has performed throughout California, Mexico and recently at the 2016 Venice Biennale in Italy. The company’s mission is to discover, transform and connect. DS&D has collaborated with scientists and artists to present multidisciplinary work inspired by science on topics as diverse as quantum physics, botany and immunology. Artistic Director Donna Sternberg has been awarded numerous grants, awards and fellowships for her innovative work bridging dance and science. http://www.dsdancers.com
JazzAntique Dance Ensemble, founded in 1993, celebrates the jazz tradition as a vital
thread in the cultural fabric of African American history and heritage, and a defining element of the American experience. The company showcases concert jazz dance in works premised on the interplay between jazz music and dance. JAT has been presented throughout the United States as such prestigious events as the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Artistic Director Pat Taylor teaches and choreographs across the United States and internationally and is the recipient of many awards and grants. http://www.jazzantiqua.org