Bluemouth Prepares for L.E.S. Dance Marathon

bluemouth - photo credit Nancy Paiva

If you’re looking for something FUN to do this weekend, I highly recommend stopping by the University Settlement’s Performance Project.  For three nights only, bluemouth inc. is bringing their “ecstatic and intimate duration-based performance event,” Dance Marathon, to the Lower East Side.  The company has been working with volunteer dancers and some of the youth groups at The Door, in preparation for the big interactive performance, which is indeed, a three-hour-long dance marathon.

I stopped by a rehearsal yesterday and spoke with Stephen O’Connell, one of the members of the collective and the director for this show. The group was practicing some dance moves and working on music. The two core members dancing below (after the jump) are Stephen O’Connell and Lucy Simic:

There will be different musical guests (many local musicians) each night, a roller-skating dance judge and all kinds of surprises scheduled for each performance. O’Connell explained that the audience members get a number when they arrive/check-in and are paired up with different people for the first half of the night. The second half of the night, you can chose your partner.

Inspired by the original Depression-era endurance contests, the rules are the same – if you’re feet stop moving, you’re out.  No one is “required” to dance, but he said once the audience starts dancing, they are usually surprised at how much fun they are having. He also said, “amazing things happen once people get out of their heads and in to their bodies.” Selected audience members are paired with a different performer, as if they were dance partners within the larger framework of the dance marathon.  To get an idea of the flavor of the evening, here is one of bluemouth’s videos from a previous event:

Dance Marathon premiered in Toronto as part of Harbourfront Centre’s 2009 World Stage and was at the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad last winter (bluemouth was originally founded in Vancouver, B.C.). The show is scheduled to tour Australia this spring, at the Dance Massive festival in Melbourne and the 10 Days on the Island Festival in Tasmania. The project is being presented here by The Performance Project in collaboration with The Incubator Arts Project.

Check out Martin Denton’s glowing profile of the company here.  Check out our recent interview with Alison Fleminger, the curator of the Performance Project here.

Dance Marathon runs Jan. 6-8. Tickets are $20; registration for Dance Marathon begins at 7:30 and the event starts promptly at 8pm.