While Rialto Theatre gets ready to kick off its summer series of events with an open-air drive-in cinema starting on June 17, inside the theatre a unique kind of performance is taking place for two evenings.
Though not open to the public, Rialto’s stage will host four dancers, challenged to a four-hour dance marathon and streamed live for audiences to view at home. Titled Spirit, the performance is a work by Eleana Alexandrou born out of the lockdown and specially designed to be shared online on June 27 and 28.
The premise of the performance is to keep the dancers moving for four hours. Those viewing online, and for free, can choose to come and go throughout the performance, watch its entirety or catch short glimpses.
With measures keeping theatres and other cultural institutions closed, dancers, artists and all kinds of performers are challenged to find new ways of expressing themselves. A live streaming performance, something that happened during the lockdown as well, is one way. But a four-hour performance adds a new dimension.
Sticking to the on-screen theme of Spirit, rehearsals for the performance took place online, in bedrooms, kitchens and any other space a body can dance in. What viewers will see next week is not a recording of the show, but a live act designed for the screen.
“The viewer,” comment the organisers, “while not physically there, may be present in the performance. They can, in a way that will be announced later on, send questions, thoughts to be answered and commented on, creating a dialogue that will accompany the performers during the marathon.”
For Eleana this performance posed and addressed several questions: “Often, I have questions about the very function of the art of dance in relation to the place and the community in which I live. How does the viewer relate to a contemporary performance of movement? I am looking for ‘communication corridors’ between a spectator and a project whose main component is the experience of the body.
“In 2018, I started my nine-month-long residency at Dance House Lemesos, with a task for myself: to enter the studio and dance for as long as I can, without any themes or other questions. At first, this ‘meaningless’ decision was very difficult to sustain. This period was followed by performances in studios, galleries, public spaces with one spectator, with many or none. Then, there was my participation at the Buffer Fringe Festival in 2019, where I danced for three hours and from time to time, I answered questions I received from the spectators.
“These experiences led me to Spirit. I negotiate the availability of the performer towards the viewer, the abundance of time, the engagement with a movement and its extensions, the now that becomes more important than the tomorrow, the effort to conquer the self – as a spectator or a mover. After the restlessness, the self accepts, acquires space. Thoughts are produced, they are constantly there unless I consciously try to dismiss them, to direct the attention somewhere specific like the rhythm of my breath or the countless wrinkles on my hands from the countless washes.”
What will happen when Ariana Markoulidou, Petros Konnaris, Rania Glimitsa and Marina Argyridou take the stage? The answer will be revealed on June 27 and 28 on the Facebook page and Youtube channel of bytheway productions.
Four-hour dance marathon. June 27-28. Live from Rialto Theatre, streamed on the Facebook page and Youtube channel of bytheway productions. 6pm-10pm. Free. The performance is created within the framework of the TERPSICHORI programme of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth of Cyprus