With its collaboration with producer Neil Sieling and New York City's Big Screen Project, DFA waltzes into the arena of public art as a provocative aspect of its 39th Festival.  Viewable from 29th and 30th streets, in what once was the heart of New York City's flower market, the 30 ft. x 16.5 ft. HD screen has begun to offer a visual feast of dance films from DFA's current and earlier Dance on Camera Festivals.

 

Could this instigate a rash of dancing in the streets, or just a subtle shift in energies? Bring a little wildness back into NYC; wink people into stop making sense - all the time? Tempt a slew of real estate developers to invest in creating atriums that inspire mingling, old-world jostling and debates?

 

Public screenings of dance films have brought enormously positive results. Helene Lesterlin wooed an uninitiated crowd in Troy, New York with dance on camera shorts projected on a large screen in a football field on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Her series charmed her circle to the point that RPI's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) convinced an alum to direct his million dollar donation towards the commissioning of dance video. David Michalek, who serves on Festival 2011 Jury, stopped people in their tracks to consider his SLOW DANCING projected on four giant screens on the facade of Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre, and subsequently in Los Angeles and London. Michalek’s project dared people to slow down and wonder what they had missed by living so fast.

 

DFA's Floating Cinema, a free event on Prospect Park Lake one midsummer night years ago, widened the eyes of many a child. As did the outdoor screenings in the summers of 2008-2010 presented by the Certamen Internacional de Coreografía Burgos-New York,  a Spanish touring partner of DFA. Caught by surprise, businessmen broke their stride to watch; old ladies pressed up on their canes to gaze at the screen; girls broke into mad dances to the hysterical approval of their friends; fathers twirled their daughters and threw them up in the air. Dance was indeed in the air, creating a virtual call and response.

 

The Indian Culture has always displayed their art outside for all to see, to quietly absorb into their consciousness. The idea of bringing art inside is a Western one. Gradually though, more and more sculpture, murals and performing arts are now being commissioned for public spaces. A network of public screens has popped around Europe. The Big Screen Project, though, is the first in USA to offer, without commercial interruption, non verbal art all day long.

 

A tightrope dancer, as the veteran explains in THE LAST TIGHTROPE DANCER IN ARMENIA that we are showing during Festival 2011, cannot harbor any fear. How can he dance in the air with thoughts like that? So must we artists saunter into the public arena, confident that we could, just possibly, sashay right into the hearts of disarmed strangers.

 

 

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