Island Moving Co.’s Open for Dancing

An immersive experience
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  September 14, 2011

TAKE IT OUTSIDE The IMC crew in motion.

Since its founding 28 years ago, Island Moving Co. has often included site-specific dances in its presentations: some were adapted to be inside Newport's elegant mansions; others were outside, in the gardens of those estates. Beginning in 2002, on a biennial basis (with a postponement in 2010), IMC has expanded its horizons, both in venues — Gooseberry Beach to the Navy Yard, the International Tennis Hall of Fame to Bowen's Wharf — and in choreographers, who have come from across the country.

This year's Open for Dancing series will have public performances on September 24 and 25 at 2, 3, 4, and 5 pm at Fort Adams, the Bellevue House, and the Norman Bird Sanctuary. Performers from the Philly-based Green Chair Dance Group will appear in spontaneous improvisations in downtown Newport, and Sara Barker will lead a Sunset Waltz on Long Wharf Mall on Saturday evening. See for details.

This year's choreographers are IMC's Christine Sandorfi and two NYC-based artists, Marta Renzi and Zach Morris. Sandorfi's site is a large beech tree on the grounds of the newly-restored Bellevue House, once occupied by Ziegfield Girl Jane Pickens.

Ballet dancer Sandorfi started studying flying trapeze four years ago; after she introduced IMC artistic director Miki Ohlsen to the craft, they incorporated it into a scene in the company's lauded Dracula production, in which the "vampire brides" hang from "silks" above a large bed.

For her dance under the beech's spreading canopy, Sandorfi will have a stationary trapeze and many ropes. She is collaborating with musicians Toby Andrews and Naseer Ashraf, who will perform three classical pieces for horn and piano.

"My idea is that we walk by such trees everyday," Sandorfi explained, "and we don't notice that there are all kinds of living things in there. The audience will be under the tree with us and once you're inside, you're in this different world. It's its own little ecosystem. These people and this equipment will become a part of that."

Marta Renzi has been making dances and dance films for more than 20 years, most recently at a Johnston auto body shop, when she did a residency at Rhode Island College last winter. Renzi will set her piece to live music composed and performed by Steve Jobe (along with other musicians), in the Yew Forest at the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

"I always like a good limitation, but, boy, have I given myself one here!" Renzi admitted. "I didn't realize at first there was so much ducking you have to do. The audience members will be led through parts of it, and then in the clearing, they will observe the dancers.

"Part of the challenge," she continued, "is not to present the dance in an awkward way but to allow them to have their own experience in a magical place — to find the little hideaways where they can sit and be not a participant in the dance, but in the forest."

Renzi did outdoor dance recitals as a young girl, and she thus finds herself completely at home choreographing al fresco: "I've always liked the interplay with the audience when they're sitting outside, unlike indoors when they're anonymous."

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  Topics: Dance , Dance, Island Moving Co., Jane Pickens,  More more >
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