Friday, July 31, 2015

Reclaiming history

Let's call the summer of 2015 Throwback Summer, as I continue to post highlights from past work created for summer spaces - a suburban pool, a dock by a lake, and now the banks of the Hudson River. Fleet Week was commissioned by the River to River Festival and presented at Battery Park in 2005.  It was a no-brainer to commission Steve Elson to arrange and perform music played acoustic as it might have been on a turn-of-the-century pier. Because there was no electricity for this dusk-to-dark show I had to get creative with costumes. I spent hours sewing battery-powered lights on most of the costumes and researching hand-held light guns aimed by the dancers to illuminate the action.

In my online research to confirm the year that Fleet Week was presented, I re-read the New York Times coverage.

Sailors frolicked with pretty women in long white dresses and illuminated parasols. Another dancer, wearing a gown and a wide-brimmed hat, shimmied across a bridge.  Even Ms. Prince, wearing a skirt that hid two children, made an appearance. But the dance seemed like afterthoughts in relation to the costumes and location.  With the enveloping dusk and her offbeat cast of characters, Ms. Renzi might have been going for something surreal, but the result resembled a Broadway set.  The nature looked fake.

Now that you've seen the video version of the event, what do you think? Is surreal one of the words that came to your mind to describe the aesthetic? Might the Broadway set actually have been an intentional reference? Did you wonder about why the costumes were so elaborate? What might have brought these offbeat characters together on a pretty summer evening on a boardwalk? And the architects that designed that simple arbor to frame the boats that pass the esplanade might have joined me in disagreeing with the conclusion : The nature looked fake. 

Ten years after the fact, I hereby reclaim history!

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