Dance Interview: Dancing for 120 seconds

By Roxanna Pullan

As the rain washes the streets, people seek the sanctuary of the great indoors to shake off their umbrellas and remove their rain jackets. One intimate venue safely inside is the Bubonic Tourist Plink Plink Plink Festival happening this weekend at Birds and Stone. Inside the cozy theatre, audiences can witness a festival of dances no longer than 120 seconds each. The unusual title reflects the shortness, repetition and oddity expected from the dancers.

“This is innovative people creating a new Calgary dance experience” says festival co-curator Ed Mitchell. “The title is like three islands of performance, the dances are not a continent. It is an obscure title, and it is new.”

Although the Calgary dance scene is varied and known for its diversity, it has never held a festival like this before. Mitchell got the idea from a Vancouver trend, where dances are performed in a casual setting such as a bar. The audience crowds around the small performing space, resulting in an intimate and informal setting foreign to most dance performances. Mitchell modified this idea to fit his own vision.

“I thought it would be interesting to have dances constrained by a short amount of time instead of a small space,” he explains.

Though the very word ‘dance’ will immediately scare away some, Mitchell is unconcerned. Plink Plink Plink will be inaccessible to some by its very nature, but to those who are interested, the festival promises to offer a truly unique experience.

“People shouldn’t be interested in this performance,” he remarks. “As long as people are doing what they’re interested in, that is what’s important. If they do choose this, it is to satisfy their curiosity. This a great opportunity as an introduction into new dance–since it is so short it becomes palatable. Besides, seeing dance and participating as an audience in dance is move visceral than watching TV.”

In addition to offering audiences something new, the dancers and choreographers have a new challenge to work with by being confined to such short pieces. Some dances may get lost in the translation, but this is expected in any artistic performance.

“It is the frame we have to work within when it comes to choreographing dances,” says Mitchell.

This format does leave the performances open to audience misunderstanding, yet with the pieces being only 120 seconds, you know the piece will be over shortly. On the other hand if the individual work is captivating the only feeling audiences will be left with is wanting more of a good thing, while allowing their umbrellas a much needed reprieve.

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