This Friday at Noon (Pacific Daylight Time), drop what you’re doing (unless you’re carrying a baby or driving heavy machinery) and boogie. Or better yet, check out the dance anywhere events happening in your neck of the woods. dance anywhere is exactly that: people dancing wherever they are at the same time: noon here in San Francisco, 3PM in New York, 8PM in Paris, etc.
What: dance anywhere
Where: Worldwide; in San Francisco, performances include but are not limited to site-specific dance at
- 10 South Park Street
- Geary and Grant toward the Togonon Gallery at 77 Geary Street
- The Asian Art Museum
- The SF Veterans Affairs Medical Center at 4150 Clement Street
When: Friday, March 26, 2010, 12PM
The purpose of dance anywhere, which is in its sixth year, is to bring “everyone’s attention to their immediate environment and brings awareness to the change that dance and art brings as it converges with their day.” It’s “about shifting assumptions and heightened awareness, and generating dance anywhere and everywhere simultaneously.”
Beth Fein, the creator of dance anywhere, talked with me about the scope of this project and what to expect should you wisely substitute dance anywhere for your weekly nooner.
How did you get involved in creating dance anywhere and what should audiences expect on the day?
It started one night when I had gone to see a modern dance performance (I go to a lot because I know people who are performing or choreographing), and on the way home, talking to my friends about how fleeting the performance is and how much of the art is in the practice and the preparation. That’s where the idea came from; the validation of dance and all of its aspects, but it’s really become a public art project. Instead of having a sculpture or installation or something, it’s a public art project that happens for a brief amount of time and then it’s not there in that environment anymore. Then it changes into something else like the photos or videos.
How many cities is dance anywhere in?
You know, I can’t even keep the website updated! I can give you a list of countries! Or are you more interested in cities?
Countries are great, too! I’m just trying to wrap my head around the scope of the project.
It’s so open, and it’s accessible to everyone which is part of the idea of it. I have dancers in Iceland, Canada, Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, Indonesia, Turkey, Costa Rica, Egypt. There’s more… Estonia! I forgot Estonia. Oh, Namibia. That’s a new one this year. States: California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Wyoming, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, Idaho, Alabama, New York… Oh, and Argentina! That’s another country [involved]… The thing about the project is that I don’t always know where people are dancing. A lot of people participate without telling me. They here about it and they just do it. There’s a whole contingent that I may not be aware of.
I was looking at the Google map of participants that you have, and I’m taken surprised by the amount of participants in Utah!
you know, it could be because the University of Utah has a good dance department, and it could be that someone sparked something there.
It’s a neat cluster to see.
And we’ve been getting so many in every day, and I’m not able to keep up because it’s mostly volunteer. I probably have another 50 or so to add.
How does the process work if you’re a dancer, choreographer, or group? Do they contact you?
I try to get them to contact me because I want to list them on the website, include a link to their website, and tell the press where they’re performing. And there are a few where, in the last few years…, the SFMOMA, Asian Art Museum, and the Berkeley Art Museum have generously hosted dance anywhere and they’re doing so this year, and in these cases I’ll invite a choreographer whose appropriate [to perform in these spaces]. But people are free to, if they come up with an idea, act somewhere else! I try to get them to tell me through Facebook or my website.
This year I have a couple of artists who teach in the school and they are Kala Art Institute artists. They’re doing a dance at Thornhill Elementary School, and they’re actually having the kids do a dance based on how the planets move in the solar system and then they’ll do pinhole photography and have the students make drawings. I think they have almost 70 third graders doing that.
So they’re starting ’em young…
I know, and then sometimes I’ll get an entire school to dance!….I’ve had an elementary school in San Francisco dance. A lot of times they [the schools] don’t send me photographs because of privacy issues. This year, I’ve added in this other element where I”m asking people if they’d prefer to do a drawing or write a poem or make a few comments so that I get something back from them.
What’s it like the day of, so to speak, if you’re in the audience?
It’s usually a surprise! I’ve done it. The last few years, I’ve danced in Berkeley. This year, I’m dancing on Geary Street in San Francisco at the Togonon Gallery. People are going to be walking by and see these dancers. The way I usually work it is that we’re in our position and still for maybe five minutes before we begin to get attention and then we start to dance. For instance, the video from 2008 at the SFMOMA [see top of the page]: they just walked in. They just walked in and started dancing, and you can see that at first people don’t even notice them! It’s kind of exciting that then people start to notice you and their whole sense of their space changes. Last year my dancers and I were on the pedestrian bridge on Highway 80, and that was absolutely fabulous because it was like we were on this high stage over the freeway and immediately, the traffic started to notice and honk at us.
How can you not notice that?
I guess someone asked an observer if this was a protest and they were like no, this is a dance!
View dance anywhere 2010 in a larger map
Looking forward to next year, are you looking to grow the project? Do you need specific resources to get there?
Oh, I wrote a lot of grants this year, but I didn’t get too many. It’s been a hard year. I do receive private donations and I’m an artist, so I sell my artwork to support it. I’d love to grow [it], and being I’m a visual artist, I’d love to get more museums and galleries be interested in having dance coming into their spaces… You know I still get surprised. Someone will send me a photo. I got one one year of just an office dancing in New York. I have no idea who they are. There’s a video of some office workers at San Jose State [see below] who danced and shot a video. I’d love more of that.