Movement Art Practice fills Christchurch Art Gallery parking lot with dance

Contemporary dance choreographer Anna Bate will lead 13 non-professional dancers for the new show.

Provided

Contemporary dance choreographer Anna Bate will lead 13 non-professional dancers for the new show.

An underground car park under the Christchurch Art Gallery will be animated for one night only by a community dance project.

The ensemble of 13 untrained dancers will tackle the giant concrete space as part of a project created by non-profit dance organization Movement Art Practice (MAP).

MAP’s artistic director, Julia Harvie, said the underground car park was a stimulating space for showcasing contemporary dance.

“It’s huge,” she said.

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“How do you appropriate a car park? It’s a pretty complex little project.

“I don’t think anyone knows how to turn off the lights, so we can’t create atmosphere with light. There is no smoke and mirrors in this space.

MAP aims to engage the wider community in contemporary dance and uses unusual spaces to reach new people. Last year the band held a show at Waltham Summer Pool, which was empty for the winter.

UNDERSIDE is a collaboration between dancers, choreographer Anna Bate, sound designer Demarnia Lloyd and visual artist Stuart Lloyd-Harris.

Provided

UNDERSIDE is a collaboration between dancers, choreographer Anna Bate, sound designer Demarnia Lloyd and visual artist Stuart Lloyd-Harris.

“It was really interesting.

“The idea is to take dance out of the theater and make it more exposed to other communities and engage with local issues just by occupying those spaces.

“You get a new audience just by picking a different venue and connecting with a different group of people.

Occupying a parking lot with dancing resonates in Christchurch, she said. Arts organizations in the city have often had to fight for their own space.

The austere concrete space of the parking lot presents a challenge for the contemporary dance performance.

Provided

The austere concrete space of the parking lot presents a challenge for the contemporary dance performance.

Last month, arts leaders succeeded in overturning a plan by Christchurch City Council to sell a site in the performing arts district at Wilson Parking.

“Where is the dance going? It must go in a parking lot or a gallery or outside.

“Dance is always fighting for a presence or a place in the city.

“Who can use a space and what are the other ways you can be in a space and use it?”

Harvie says occupying the parking lot with dance resonates in Christchurch, where the arts have to fight for space.

Provided

Harvie says occupying the parking lot with dance resonates in Christchurch, where the arts have to fight for space.

The dancers, led by contemporary choreographer Anna Bate, range from a woman in her sixties with a doctorate in art history to a teenage student. The show, titled UNDERSIDE, will be presented at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on May 28.

“It’s a community-building exercise because of the disparate people who sign up to do it.

“This is the spirit of the project. There’s this magic thing that happens with the collective and the artist.

“Everyone brings knowledge of the body and life experience to the project.”

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