For Canadian dancer/choreographer/filmmaker/coder, Jacob Niedzwiecki, dance and technology have always coexisted.
“I’ve never been happy when I’m not using my body, and I’ve never been happy when I’m not using my mind,” he says from his home base of Toronto.A classically trained dancer since age five, and a self-taught computer coder since he was seven, he credits his rigorous dance training with teaching him a “work ethic and discipline that I can apply in other areas of my life.
“It’s a discipline that lets me sit at my laptop and code for hours, as well as create and dance for hours.”
Presented during the third transmedia festival FilmGate’s Ctrl-Alt-Dance, on Saturday, Feb. 7, Niedzwiecki’s Jacqueries is a site-specific dance work about a political heist, and uses a smart-phone app to enhance the audience’s experience as well as the story telling.
“Jacqueries is more site sensitive than site-specific. Site-specific work is even more ephemeral than theatrical dance. In building the piece, I very consciously chose locations that are common pieces of urban infrastructures,” he explains of his setting the show’s duets in places like switchback fire stairwells and on concrete construction barriers that are as common in Toronto as they are on South Beach.
For the performance, audiences are split into small groups, allowing for different entry points into the story.
“The audience is always following a character’s storyline, we want to avoid it feeling like a walking tour of different locations.”To find the most appropriate sites in Miami for the work, FilmGate employed a location scout who worked closely with Niedzwiecki in selecting South Beach’s Carlton Hotel as the starting point of the interactive Jacqueries.
“It’s very much about the city. We want to show the audience parts of their own city they don’t get to see, or that they might not go to very often.
“To bring what Niedzwiecki calls “that intimate knowledge of the city right into our team,” for their U.S. premiere performance, the company is working with a local assistant stage manager, as well as incorporating Miami-based dancer/choreographer and crowd favorite, Rudi Goblin, into their six-person company.
“It sounded interesting,” Goblin says about the invitation to participate in the piece. “I'm always up for a challenge and working with new people. I'm really amped for it.”
Says Niedzwiecki: “The point of the show, and the point of the work that I do, is not to try and make the experience of art, the experience of dance, the experience of theater, more technological. My sort of ongoing investigation is in exploring ways to make a new and original audience experience, finding new modes of creation, and new modes of audience experience through technology. When people hear about the show, and that there’s an app, for some people that’s a reason to come to the show.”
The creator says that in a perfect world, the technology is almost invisible in the show. “When you go to the theater, unless they are making a point, you don’t see the lighting equipment, and you just see the result of the light. It’s a very new world we are exploring.”
Jacqueries I First Performance, Saturday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Carlton Hotel South Beach, 1433 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets are $15, or free with all FilmGate Passes, audience members will use headphones and an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 7.0 (or later) during the show, www.film-gate.org. Read about all the happenings at Filmgate.
Rebekah Lanae Lengel is a writer/critic for www.artburstmiami.com.