A few months ago, I attended a dance performance by Frame Dance Productions at the Photobooth in Montrose. The evening featured a work in progress, of sorts, that engaged the audience to be active participants. It was an installation piece where the spectators were fully entwined as active participants. It was fascinating and a different way to explore the medium of dance. The company has done several of these performances over the course of a few months in an attempt to utilize aspects of each of the works in a full production. This weekend, Frame Dance is showcasing the fruit of these efforts with a new production entitled CONTEXT.
Frame Dance Production just celebrated its two-year anniversary. The brainchild of dancer/choreographer Lydia Hance, Frame was established to be a company that doesn't adhere to established "dance company rules." Hance wanted a dance-based outlet that would allow an open form of collaboration with non-dancers, such as painters, playwrights, poets and photographers, among other artists. Of the many non-traditional aspects to Frame, Hance looks for ways to engage the audience through technology and socialization. "I am very interested in redefining the 'dance performance' experience," Hance says. This process of redefinition includes the venues in which Frame produces their work; they prefer galleries to the standard theater space.
CONTEXT, Frame's upcoming show, has been an ongoing process. The works that the company created in the Photobooth, which they call the "Photobooth series," grew into this cohesive production. Frame was able to use the Photobooth series as a method for workshopping and testing the waters. After each piece, they sourced the audience for reaction and feedback. With that feedback they were able to piece together a "best of," which became CONTEXT.
"The series has been extremely successful, we've reached new audiences and have received excellent feedback-- both verbally, and through reacting and seeing the audiences react to us," says Hance.
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The Photobooth series was a way to engage the audience on a different level and take them out of their comfort zone. So often with live performance, we forget the thrill of it's being "live." Anything can happen, and it is that much more exciting for an audience member to be a part of that living, breathing world.
CONTEXT has some pretty weighty themes such as the relationship between artist and media and how this relationship is captured through dance. Additionally, Frame wants the audience to take these concepts and relate them to one another. Charles Halka, who won the Frame Dance Productions music competition, composed the music for CONTEXT. His composition set the tone for the entire production.
Attending a Frame performance, you can be sure to expect the unexpected. Hance is a big believer in audience engagement and likes to push boundaries. "I won't sit naked in your lap or pour slime over your head, but I will play and see what audiences are comfortably willing to do to engage with the art," she says.
Frame Dance Productions presents CONTEXT at the Winter Street Studios. Friday, May 11, at 8 p.m., Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 13, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door. For more information, visit framedance.org.