A/D/O by MINI | Samaritan dance series in Urban Imprint

Journal

Installation

Samaritan in Urban Imprint

The “otherworldly” dance series created for Urban Imprint at A/D/O pushes its designer’s concept of bodies influencing man-made space.

Urban Imprint has a way of uniquely turning users’ simple movements into elegant spatial manipulations. Even clunky steps and awkward gestures result in fluid transformations, as the pulleys activated via the floor cause the ceiling surface to gracefully undulate. So when a group of poised performers moves with precision and elegance through and around the installation, the effect is as “otherworldly” as intended, and the installation takes on an entirely new life.

For Samaritan, the three-part dance series taking place at A/D/O during summer 2019, Brooklyn choreographer Damani Pompey and co-producer Imogen Pickles built upon the themes conceptualized by Urban Imprint creators Nassia Inglessis and Studio INI. The idea that the body can manipulate a man-made environment, one that is formed from analog mechanisms rather than a digital system, is pushed even further through the choreography designed specifically for and around the installation.

“I learned to listen to Urban Imprint's physicality,” Pompey told The Journal. “Having this analog structure really emphasized the motion of the human body and where our intention of movements originate from. The sound that resonates from each step manipulates all choice and transition. It was an element that embodies the concept of ‘samaritan’.”

The title references the way in which we acknowledge and influence one-another’s space and situations in urban environments, through our actions, moods and gestures. The choreographer’s statement also mentions how many of us go long periods of time without touching natural ground – echoing Inglessis’ observation that we shape and leave our marks through nature, while in cities our presence has little physical impact on our surroundings.

Urban Imprint reverses this notion, allowing users to reshape what at first appear to be solid surfaces, but reveal themselves to be adaptable based on body weight. Choreographing around these ever-shifting planes comes with challenges, Pompey explained.

“Having constantly moving surfaces either clarified the ideas of impression of weight or made myself and the movement artists adapt consistently... because what worked on a solid and slick surface, no longer worked on a textured and moving floor. No movement was ever executed the same because of the resilience of the structure.”

“It pushes you to be more expansive, weighted, detailed, deliberate and delicate,” Pompey added.

The movements of the dancers are complemented through apparel styled by Hannah Richtman of local fashion store The Break. Loose, flowing fabrics in neutral and earthy tones echo the colors of the installation and the surrounding courtyard space, and highlight the amount of skin left of show. Socks are worn to create a nuanced balance of the pressure on the installation – somewhere between barefoot and footwear.

“Simple yet profound textured items (as opposed to full looks) shaped the bodies of the dancers in a finite space,” Pompey said. “It welcomed another layer of design that honored the vision. I wanted to portray a sense of otherworldliness, using Urban Imprint as the atmosphere's terrain.”

During the first installment of Samaritan on July 26, 2019, Pompey was pleased with how Zach Koeber’s music created an atmosphere that elevated the performance. Natural evening light also added to the ambience and caused the installation to take on a different character.

“Once the light started to appear against the sunset, it added a new characterization to Urban Imprint – as if it were a bio-mechanic machine, coming to life the more the dancers explored and established what their presence meant to the structured space,” he said.

This kind of exploration and sense of the unexpected is exactly what Inglessis said she hoped the installation would produce, when speaking to The Journal ahead of its opening in May 2019. Discovering new ways in which the morphing analog environment can alter cognitive perception of urban space was fundamental to her concept. With Pompey and Pickles’ help, Samaritan attendees are able to witness a different side to Urban Imprint.

The second and third installments of Samaritan will take place August 16 and August 30, 7:30–9pm. Urban Imprint will remain on view in the courtyard at A/D/O until September 1, 2019.

Samaritan credits:

Choreographer: Damani Pompey

Co-producer: Imogen Pickles

Styled by The Break

Live score by Zachary Koeber

Dancers: David Parker, Matthew Perez, Evelyn Chen, Jillian Pajer, Cody Hayman

Text by Dan Howarth.

Photography by Justin Ryan Kim.

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