Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


A few dollars for Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre!

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I'm a dancer, but contemporary dance doesn't usually excite me. I find most companies tend to get caught up on the theories of movement rather than simply dance to express a message. Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre (HDDT) is not that. In fact, it's probably the complete opposite.

By dancing in laudromats, government offices, significant homes and museums, HDDT's site-specific performances breaks down the invisible barriers between art and life. I was among the audience while HDDT unveiled its first performance of "A Gallerina's Guide," and I marveled at the dancers' agility, but also the choreographer's wit and style. Finally, a company that celebrates movement and place, with a rousing sense of humor.

Where can I see these guys next, you ask? Well, if you we play our cards right, you can see them action at your nearest theater or television screen. HDDT is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to finance a dance film documentary that shows just how much goes into a making and staging a performance.

The documentary follows company members during the Ninth International Festival of Movement and Dance on the Volga as they prepare to stage Oh Cosmonaut! in the Russian city of Yaroslavl. The site-specific dance inspired by Valentina Tereshkova, Yaroslavl resident and the first woman cosmonaut to travel into space. As you can see from the clip below: Tereshkova didn't always have a easy time of it:

I got a chance to chat briefly with artistic director Heidi Duckler to ask what all this about:

HDDT is famous for its site-specific performances. What was the site that you danced in for Oh Cosmonaut?
Heidi: Yes-- it was very special. We performed on the loading dock outside a 400 year-old theater in Yaroslavl, Russia. I just thought about all the history behind the theater's productions over the last 400 years. It was like a portal to the history of Russian theater in that region.

You based in the movements from an actual person Valentina. Could you describe the tone of the performance and how does that reflect the kind of person Valentina was?
H: Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go into space. She was selected for the mission out of 400 applicants, and went through extensive training and preparation before her journey. I based the choregography on this history-- a woman's aspirations and struggles while living in Soviet Russia. The loading dock was very vertical, and went from the ground up, representative of Valentina's climb.

What do you want people to take away from the performance?
H: I want people to understand that performance can exist outside the confines of a theater, in an uncontrolled, visceral environment. It was raining throughout our rehearsals and the performance in Russia. It made it feel much closer to nature.

If you'd like to see more and more of HDDT, click on this link to pitch in! Campaign ends August 19. Contribute just $1 to get a digital high-five. Just $5 gets you archival HDDT postcards each with a different image of HDDT's 25 years of performances. Seeing the way these guys move and the places they've danced, I know the cards will be gorgeous.


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