Whether she is working with dance and performance, collage, or jewelry, Laurie Berg draws on her interest in iconography, detail, humor, and absurdity to cultivate a collaborative, creative space that allows for rigorous play. Through complex choreographic structures and collaborations between people and objects, her performances conjure a space that is simultaneously structured and fantastical, layering together past, present, and future; bodies, objects, light, and space; imagination and knowledge; the real and the surreal.
In scape, a new work for eight dancers, Berg layers a landscape of information over complex movements, reflecting two conceptual inspirations tied into Times Square’s culture and history. The first is the elaborate, synchronized choreography of 1991 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Will Rogers Follies. In the center of the Theater District and amidst the elaborate human ballet of Times Square’s pedestrian traffic, scape becomes an intricately patterned, decontextualized chorus number — an exercise in cooperation, each performer one important part of the greater whole, but only briefly in unison.
The work also references the central device of the 1988 science fiction horror film They Live, in which a pair of sunglasses reveals within advertisements the subliminal messages aliens are using to dominate humanity. Berg’s version, in contrast, responds to the “brandscape” of Times Square while seeking to inspire action and change. 3D-style glasses will reveal “hidden” messages on the costumes of the performers and pedestrians, featuring texts developed with Jaime Shearn Coan and designs by visual artist Liliana Dirks-Goodman that deploy color therapy, subliminal messaging, and binocular rivalry.
“I want the opportunity to communicate visually with an audience that is unprepared for viewing performance and invite them in. It is my hope that the details of the performance (the costumes, choreography, bodies, messaging, and glasses) will draw people in despite the scale of Times Square, leaving viewers not only with a souvenir (the glasses), but a heightened sense of their surroundings as they go about the rest of their day. We will be a tiny convergence inside of a huge flashing cacophonous cocoon. A beacon of light.”
- Laurie Berg
The audience is encouraged to check in at the Times Square Arts / Danspace Project information table on Duffy Square starting from 5:45pm for a free pair of colored glasses with which to view the work.
scape is presented as part of Danspace Project at Times Square, which will also include performances by luciana achugar and Full Circle Souljahs (Kwikstep and Rokafella). Inspired by Times Square’s history as the home of Broadway musicals, vaudeville, dance halls, and vernacular dance forms that emerged throughout the 20th century, Times Square Arts and Danspace Project have commissioned these three new dance works that explore strategies for perception, amplification, and activism within the cacophonous landscape of Times Square.
Laurie Berg (b. 1980, works and lives in New York City) is a dancer, performer, collagist, and jewelry maker. Her projects have appeared at The Kitchen, WeisAcres, BAX, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church, Dixon Place, Beach Sessions Dance Series, Astor Alive! Festival, The Invisible Dog Art Center as part of The Joyce Theater’s Unleashed Series, The Whitney Museum, The Mattatuck Museum of Art (CT), Catch, Avant-Garde-Arama, WiM at the TBG Theater, Pieter PASD (CA), Roulette Intermedium, Movement Research at the Judson Church, Food for Thought, Danspace Project’s Food for Thought and DraftWork series, and at Danspace Project as part of PLATFORM 2011: Body Madness - Rhythm and Humor, FACADE/FASAD, 303 Gallery, ICMC at Stony Brook University, the TANK, draftwork, and AUNTS among others. Berg was a 2016–17 LMCC Workspace Artist-In-Residence, the 2016 recipient of the Tom Murrin Performance Award, was a 2013 New York Live Arts Studio Series Artist and a 2010 Movement Research Artist-In-Residence. She co-curated the 2017 Movement Research Spring Festival and is currently a member of the Movement Research Artist Advisory Council. She also co-produces AUNTS, an underground platform for dance and performance, with Liliana Dirks-Goodman.
Photographs courtesy of Ian Douglas for Times Square Arts.