Produced and choreographed by Meredith Pellon, Site Unseen is a dance-video project with three public performances at three separate Philadelphia sites (Circa Green at 30th Street Station, The Porch at 30th St Station, and South Street near Zagar’s Magic Garden). Its purpose was to showcase common areas in uncommon ways through dance. An original score was created for the project by Brandon Linke.
Changes to the production imposed by each venue largely contributed to the creativity of the project, rather than set limitations. Movement on a smaller scale tends to be more enticing than large, explosive movement. That worked well in venues where sudden large movements would be a poor (if not dangerous) choices anyway.
Logistical and Legal
Public performances work best when a venue is informed and general liability insurance obtained. There are risks connected with pop-up performances, especially those related to liability, security, and conflicts with property owners civil authorities.
Audience reactions were varied. Some were passive with minor glances, some people continued what they were doing without acknowledging the dance, and others followed the piece while it was being performed, smiling and asking questions about it. Viewers tended to remain still, unless already in motion while passing through the location.
Public performances can expose the performers to a certain amount of vulnerability since both audience and performer have equal rights. Public performances might function better in spaces where the balance is not equal and the dancers have greater control of the space.
To the audience: A nice interruption from everyday life in an unexpected space. Those that chose to watch, and especially those that frequented the space saw us a few times, seemed to appreciate an outburst of art not ordinarily contained in the space.
To the venues: Drew attention to these spaces, kept people around for longer periods of time, and contributed to a space’s reputation as a fun, exciting summer place to hang out in.
A venture such as this can be continued under certain circumstances:
- Partnerships with organizations that support the arts
- Hosting by venues that provide funds for site performances
- Ongoing use of videos to document the performances
- Provide ways to promote the program and showcase the venues
- Choose a venue truly invested in communicating with the performing group and showcasing this kind of art
- Obtain general liability insurance well in advance
- Approach choreography with an open mindset and work with dancers that are collaborative and able to adapt well
Submit one of the videos to the “Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival.” Continue site-specific work following graduation, seeking out partnerships with museums and other public organizations that support art and could potentially provide fundraising support.