HDC showcase

The 4-by-4 platform performers use in this showcase challenges creativity due to the limited space.

In the world of dance, it’s typical for performances to be on a stage with the audience safely out of reach. Sometimes, however, artists like to change this perception. “Moving Sculptures” is a showcase created by the collaboration of the Harrisonburg Dance Cooperative and the Spitzer Art Gallery that aims to push the boundaries of limited space.

“Moving Sculptures” will take place this Friday with three showtimes: 6, 7 and 8 p.m. The Spitzer Art Gallery will be hosting the event. Admission is free, though a donation can be made to help both nonprofits.

“We’re always trying to find new ways to collaborate with other artists,” Risha Metzler, secretary for HDC, said. “We recognized that it would be a unique thing to explore with a local gallery.”

The performance will be on a 4-by-4 foot platform in the gallery. The confined space influences and creates restrictions for each dancer’s movement, thus inspiring the name. 

“One of the things that we’re hoping to do as an organization is to take dance into more places and spaces where it’s not typically seen,” Metzler said. “Rather than your traditional dance performance, it’s pushing the edges of what people might expect to see simply because of the collaboration.”

There will be four pieces performed during the showcase, all written and choreographed by different dancers. The size of the platform ties each piece together, but each is a separate performance, creating a mix of different styles. For this performance, all the dancers are local artists, including several JMU alumni. Lara Mack, a JMU alumna (’08) and co-founder of HDC, will be premiering her first choreographed dance routine as one of the pieces. 

“It’s pretty challenging to be coming out with my first piece of choreography ever and to be limiting myself to 4-by-4, but that container felt comforting,” Mack said. “I feel super lucky because it’s my chance to collaborate, choreograph and dance with other really wonderful folks in Harrisonburg.”

As of now, HDC is only four years old and typically puts on 2-to-3 showcases a year — a mainstage performance in the spring and a collaborative performance in the fall that tries to go beyond traditional dance methods. Metzler and Mack said that although “Moving Sculptures” is the first of its kind, they plan to use the concept of dancing in a confined space for future shows. 

Even though it provides a challenge, the platform gives HDC the opportunity to dance at many more venues. Instead of having to find a location with a stage meant for dancers, the 4-by-4 platform makes it easily transportable so the HDC can explore new opportunities and connect with more organizations around Harrisonburg.

“In general, the community of Harrisonburg has really been suapportive of us, which has helped,” Sarah Gosselin, JMU alumna (’08) and HDC treasurer said. “We have a great fan base and great connections for people that offer us gear and are interested in helping us grow.”

Harrisonburg has several visual arts organizations around town, and HDC tries to collaborate with these local organizations for its showcases. The Spitzer Art Gallery’s photographer, Lara Ressler-Horst, took a series of pictures of the performers during their practices and routines to display around the room. The photographs will be 4-by-4 inches to keep with the theme of limited space. 

“It’s an exciting way to mix visual art with performance art and to have them in that space,” Horst said. “It was a big shift to work on dancers who fill up space differently, who are moving and constantly in motion.”

Spitzer Art Gallery is where artists of all mediums — paint, stained glass, photography and more — can participate in shows and sell their work. Horst typically takes pictures of hands or musicians, so “Moving Sculptures” is her first time working with dancers and a subject that’s constantly in motion.

This alliance of dance and photography between two local visual arts organizations is a first for both and open for all to see. More information on the event, the organization and performances can be found on the HDC website. 

“It’s a great mix of different styles of dance, and it’s a different way to view dance outside of the norm, which is nice,” Gosselin said. 

Contact Brittany Bell at bellbl@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.  

Brittany Bell is a senior writer for the Culture section of The Breeze. She’s a sophomore double major in Media Arts & Design, concentration in Journalism, and Writing Rhetoric and Technical Communication.