Watching Dance From One Porch to Another
Nicole Decsey on this year’s Porch View Dances by Kaeja d’Dance.
Art has the ability to activate the ordinary and tell universal stories. It should not be confined to the theatre, and in recent years has stepped out of the auditorium and onto the streets with site specific performances by companies such as Hit and Run Productions, Toes For Dance, and Frog in Hand. But Porch View Dances by Kaeja d’Dance takes it one step further. This annual production is celebrating 12 straight years of performances, where it brings community spaces alive and engages people who have never danced before.
The beauty behind Porch View Dances is that it is performed by ordinary community members who are not professional dance artists, but simply people who love to dance. In this series of small performances, we see how real authentic stories can come to life with the simplest movements. This was made evident with the very first porch dance called House Party. Being presented on a porch, the set was already built into the stage. The DJ and performers grooved and smiled along to popular music that had the entire audience clapping along. The two girls who danced in the piece started out on their phones, and when the DJ played the music the show became a dance party.
Each small dance throughout the Seaton Village walk was unique and different. After House Party was Shedding to Becoming Part 1, the first vignette of a trilogy. Set in an alleyway, the soloist performed vogue in a rainbow outfit. The sight lines for this piece were not ideal, but afterwards we were led to the next porch where the audience was able to spread out more with lots of angles and good spots to watch the performance.
This next performance was called I Wish For… where a group of young girls wearing butterfly wings danced around the yard. A parent was there with them for comfort, and their teacher was out in front showing them the moves. The children explained that their piece was about love and their wishes for what our world could be.
On a baseball diamond, Shedding to Becoming Part 2 was held, and this time it was a different soloist. Her dance utilized the field and the diamond while the audience looked on through a fence. Following that was Time, a gripping story about age, love, and time gone by. There were four performers, two young girls and two adults. The girls started by playing hopscotch and other various games, and then the woman started dancing in a more rigid fashion as if they were going through the motions of their typical day. Eventually the dancers came together, but what really caught my eye through this piece was the hourglass placed on the railing as a subtle reminder of time passing.
The last porch dance was a father and son performing together to a piece called Inawendiwin (Inaw-wen Da-win) Relationship, Biwissin (Bee-wish peen) Erasure, Nin Gigendam (Neen-Geeg-n-dam) Resilience. It was simple, ritualistic, and heart-warming.
The very last performance was Shedding to Becoming Part 3. It was a runway performance, with the two soloists from the vignettes. The performers put on a final show to end the walk with a bang. But this was not the end of the entire show. Rather, it ended with what Porch View Dances calls their Flock Landing. The whole audience was invited to a large park to move along with Kaeja dancers as they performed slow full-bodied movements that everyone could participate in. Thus, the audience got the chance to participate in the contemporary improvisation task known as flocking, hence the name Flock Landing. It was a beautiful way to end such an immersive and welcoming show.
Photos by Nicole Decsey
While preparing to go and see my first Porch View Dances, I went on the Kaeja website to get more information. Here is where I ran into some problems. The page dedicated to the performance was slightly confusing and it was hard to figure out how long the show would run. The focus was on the curators, which as an artist is something I appreciate, but as an audience member I would have preferred having easier access to the basic information about the nature of the show and how it works. Especially because it is the only one of its kind and is not in a typical theatre setting.
Not only was each porch dance fun and entertaining, but the drag queen tour guide also put on a fantastic show. Mary Moon Stone made jokes, engaged the kids in the audience, explained the history of Porch View Dances, and made sure the audience knew what was going on and where to go next. The show would not have been the same without her.
Porch View Dances is accessible, inclusive, and a fun way to connect with others while walking through Seaton Village. If you didn’t make it out to this year’s event, follow Kaeja D’dance and save the date for next years production!
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