Re(2): demanding, ambitious, informed and inspired ????

Sita Popat (
Sat, 23 Oct 1999 15:51:49 +0100

Hi Kent

I'm going from Sally Banes's 'Terpsichore in Sneakers' here, by the way
(page 80) - This is a quote from Trisha Brown about Yellowbelly.
(Brown asked the audience to heckle her by calling out "yellowbelly"):
"The audience was too sweet so I stopped them and asked them to be really
nasty. They did. I tried to do whatever came to my mind in response to
the name-calling. When I stopped to bow (after what I considered a
respectable amount of time), they screamed, "yellowbelly" at me, so I
continued until somehow we both stopped."

I wouldn't read that particularly as the audience getting out of hand.
Rather I would see it as the performer handing part of the responsibility
for the performance to the audience, and insisting, in fact, that they
take that responsibility - and then having to be aware that the audience
is now part of the decision-making process in the dance. Therefore it is
no longer only up to the dancer to decide the length of the dance.
Instead it must be a collaborative decision, where, as Trisha Brown puts
it, " somehow we both stopped."

No matter whether technology is involved or not, if we ask the audience to
participate, we then have to respect them as collaborators, even if they
are collaborating within boundaries that we have designed very

Sita writes:
>Merilyn's (Hi, Merilyn!) comments make me think of Trisha Brown's
>audience interactive piece Yellowbelly, where she asked the audience to
>"yellowbelly" at her if they thought she wasn't fully engaged in moving
>(this is
>how I've heard the story anyway) and that they actually got a bit out of
>hand --
>besotted with the power of their new-found interactive role, I guess. Kent
>Merilyn Jackson wrote:
>> Sita,
>> Artists like Pauline Oliveros and Deborah Hay (and many others) were
>> with these notions in arts labs like the one at Yellow Springs Institute
>> (now defunct) in the 70s and 80s. They allowed their musicians and
>> and in many instances, audience, to influence the works. For one
>> result of such a "collaboration" you could listen to Oliveros' "The
>> which she set on the Relache Ensemble (HatHut Records). For one of the
>> worst committee-bred works listen to the Yellow River Concerto,
>composed for
>> Nixon's first visit to China. I hope others will have better examples
>> you, but these two jump to mind.
>> As for dance, I have not seen anything (even in informal improv
>> that might generate something really dynamic, I'd consider that still
>> "noodling" around stage), that really rings true as "art." It sounds
>to me
>> like you are in the noodling stage. But a unique one -- since I
>> you have an audio/video record of all the audience input. I'm not sure
>> you are intending here, or how you see your role. But if you are the
>> choreographer, then BE the choreographer. You could take the material
>> are getting as gifts and put them back together in a way that regifts a
>> wider audience.
>> Merilyn Jackson