Friday, October 5, 2012

Dance Spot

Get your Groove on with artist Elisa Hamilton as she converts the streets of Fort Point into a community wide dance floor.  Elisa’s public art project is supported by the Fort Point Arts Community and will be on exhibit October 8- November 10th. The project will consist of five Dance Spots prominently located throughout the Fort Point neighborhood. Each Dance Spot will have a colorful dance diagram drawn on the sidewalk illustrating a specific dance routine that pairs with a specific song, and signage that will direct the public to the Dance Spot, where YOU can learn how to do each of the five dances via video and see the Dance Spots in action. The website will also have links to Grooveshark and iTunes so that you can listen to and/or download the songs and do the dances with music accompaniment right there on the Dance Spots!  During Fort Point Open Studios weekend Elisa will be out on the sidewalk dance floors breaking it down with you!

FPAC:  Talk about combining so many great ideas to have a “sense” – ation!  Public Art, exercise, and sound – How did you plan this project to use so many ways to connect with the public?

EH: It actually all started with walking.  I am a huge advocate of walking, and one of the things that I love most about Boston is that is truly is a walking city.  I walk anywhere from two to five miles a day, and as a serious lover of music, when I walk I’m usually listening to my favorite tunes, bouncing my head and walking to the beat.  These great big city streets have always made me want to dance!!  And I thought, how cool would it be to have a spontaneous dance party right here on the sidewalks of Fort Point?!

The idea took off from there.  The artwork that I make is grounded in the belief that in our ordinary lives we are constantly surrounded by reasons to be joyful; I wanted hone in on the raw joy that dancing together evokes in us in a literally pedestrian way.

 At first the concept included only the sidewalk art portion- the footstep diagrams- but as I discussed the notion with friends it became intensely clear that an online element was essential to the project.  The performance and interactive aspect soon followed and it became this wonderful full bodied project that both thrilled and scared me at the same time.  I knew that I needed to bring it to Fort Point.

FPAC:  With a huge craze of flash mob/dance happening all over the world, did these events influence your work? 

EH: Strangely they did not.  I love the idea of flash mobs (although I have never had the pleasure of being involved with one or experiencing one!), but this project truly manifested in its own deliciously slowball-like way.  It manifested itself directly from my everyday experiences in my day to day routine.

FPAC:  Are you planning to document the experiences?  If yes, how?

Chalk materials for Dance Spot
EH: Most definitely!!  As the budget for this project is pretty modest, basically all of the documentation I am doing is via iPhone.  As a painter, this project is literally a crash course in technology for me, but I’m totally amazed at how easy it is to take a picture or video with my phone and literally show the world- so amazing!!  This project is very social media based in the sense that it is a great way to spread the word, and posting pictures and videos pertaining to the project is a great way to do that.  I want the public to know that they are the intended guests of this great big sidewalk dance party!!

FPAC:  What locations in Fort Point are you planning to create the Dance Spots?
EH: There are five different Dance Spots locations.  I chose the locations in a way that is designed to draw one coming from South Station into the sensational Fort Point neighborhood.  Three of the Spots are on Summer Street- Dance Spot #1 is on the bridge over the Channel, #2 and #3 are on either side of the bridge that goes over A Street.  The other two are on A Street; #4 across the street from the stairs down from Summer Street to A Street, and the last one, #5, will be at Binford Street and A Street in front of Barlow’s restaurant.

FPAC:  OKAY… Can you let us in on one of the songs that you are pairing with a Dance Spot?  - Did you listen to songs and then create steps or vice versa? 

EH: The songs definitely came first, and I choreographed the dances afterwards.  Selecting the right songs for Dance Spot was actually really hard!!  There are some great dance songs that are awesome at a club or in your living room, but weren’t quite right for this project.  The songs had to be pretty much immediately danceable, they had to be innately fun, and I also really wanted each Spot to have its own dance concept and feel- so I tried to choose songs that would appeal to the public in different ways.

Elisa as a tiny groove dancer!
The spot I’ll let you in on is Dance Spot #5 which is “Pon de Replay” by Rihanna.  Each Spot not only has its own dance concept but also its own difficulty level; this one is the hardest.  The concept for this dance I imagine to be a sort of double-dutch-dance-off.  The spot is made for two sets of feet facing each other, as well as a surrounding “freestyle” area for spectators.  My longtime friend Megan Fitzpatrick has always been one of my favorite dance partners and she’ll be doing this dance with me in performance.

FPAC:  Lastly, Who would you love catch dancing?  The Mayor?  

EH: I would love to dance with the Mayor!  Honestly though, my greatest hope is that this project will draw friends and strangers together in a really fun, enjoyable way.  I strive to create art that is accessible, beautiful, and joyful- and I hope that Dance Spot achieves that.

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