Imagine for a moment that the traditional restrictions of a seated audience and stage bound performers are erased, and that spectators are given the freedom to wander about a space and take in the performance as closely as they wish. This idea of liberating an audience to engage with the artists will be tested on Saturday night at the Santora building, with the dance installment "Queen George." The event comes courtesy of the traveling art forum Santa Ana Sites (SAS), which will once again offer an artistic venture in an unlikely setting.
Allen Moon, the creative mastermind behind Santa Ana Sites, previously tapped a rock star cellist to perform in a sprawling artist compound for the last SAS event. For Queen George, his forum gives the audience a chance to explore a series of dance installments created by acclaimed choreographer, Danielle Agami. Duets will be staged throughout two levels of the Santora building, along with solo performances in separate rooms for one audience member at time. The performances will be carried out by members of Agami's Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY, and will incorporate custom furniture made by carpenter Amir Raveh. The furniture designs are a curious blend of new materials and misfit leftovers and will be flown in to Santa Ana from Raveh's studio in Israel for the performance.
Given the unorthodox relationship between the audience and dancers, and the loose environment of the performance space, it's only fitting that the arrival and departure times are open-ended. The dances will cycle over and over, allowing people to come and go as they please. And while the performances will be on a scheduled rotation, Agami notes that this is an opportunity for her troupe to read the audience and feed off their energy.
"We won't tell the audience what to do, we'll actually listen to what they're doing and adjust," Agami says. "That's the level of coordination the dancers develop over the years and it's very fun. There'll be a much more equal feeling in the room."
When asked if she'll perform the night of the event, Agami shares that it depends on how she feels but adds that since the performances are on a loop, she may step in if the time is right. "I was inspired by Amir [Raveh's] work, and I felt it somehow belonged to this building." Agami says. "The dancers will be in kind of their own world. We're allowing the audience to come into this home we've created, and they are free to behave how they want."
Agami's talent was shaped during her years with the Batsheva Dance Company in Israel, where she studied under choreographer and Gaga-style innovator, Ohad Naharin. Her work with Batsheva led to a role as Senior Manager of Gaga U.S.A. in New York and also led to her involvement with dance companies including Alvin Ailey, Ita Dansa of Barcelona, and The Julliard School. Agami founded the Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY in Seattle in 2012 but shortly after moved the company to Los Angles, where she currently operates.
When Moon approached her about creating an installment for Santa Ana Sites, she agreed to visit the Santora building. Agami says that she became enamored with both the city and the architecture of the Santora, and her vision for creative autonomy aligned with Moon's vision for Santa Ana Sites. The event will also feature displays from Los Angeles artist, Avi Roth.
"We broke all the rules [with Queen George]," Agami says. "I think it's interesting because when you push people to touch freedom and to experience freedom, they're so afraid. We're going to test that a little bit and see how people feel when there's not so many rules."
"Santa Ana Sites: Queen George" at the Santora, 207 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, Sat. January 17, 7:30 – 10:00 p.m. Free with RSVP, all ages. For more information and to RSVP visit www.santaanasites.com.