an exploration in birdsong, sound and movement
When first perusing this press release, I was not really certain into which section of DaytonMostMetro.com to place this article. When I first spoke with fellow onStageDayton contributor Rodney Veal about this, my assumption was that this project he was so excited about would be featured in the “oSD” section. Maybe, however, it belongs in the “Dayton Music” section as the project prominently features a very accomplished violinist, Shaw Pong Lui from Boston, participating through a residency here in the Gem City with the Blue Sky Project.
As I uncovered more details about the project it seemed that maybe it should be in the “Arts & Entertainment” section since it seems to equally features the creative choreography of Rodney Veal, alongside Liu’s musicality. The further I read, the more difficult this classification task became. Here is a collaboration between a dancer, a musician AND nature. The performance takes place along the trails of Aullwood Garden MetroPark with the dancers and musicians mimicking the sounds and sights of the trails. Perhaps we need to put this in “Active Living.” The audience has to build up a bit of a sweat during this particular concert, as they will have to traverse the trails. They even warn you to wear hiking shoes!
Then you throw in the iPod aspect. Holy Cow! Do we even have a “Technology & Arts” section? Audience members can participate in the performance through the use of a special birdsong app! ? ! This is pretty cool.
Alright. Looking at this, pondering the various aspects…the birds, the trees, the dance, the music…I am making an executive decision here: “Life.”
(fully expecting our illustrious publisher to override this decision and choose the perfect classification for this article)
Official Blue Sky Project Press Release:
Dayton, Ohio — Musicians, dancers and birders will come together for an unusual open-air art event in one of the Miami Valley’s most distinctive woodland parks.
The Blue Sky Project, in collaboration with the University of Dayton and Five Rivers MetroParks, will present “Translations: an exploration in birdsong, sound and movement” 6 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10, at the Aullwood Garden MetroPark, 955 Aullwood Road, Englewood, Ohio. It’s free and open to the public.
Violinist Shaw Pong Liu and choreographer Rodney Veal created the work, which invites audience members to walk along trails throughout the garden, encountering violinists mimicking birdsongs, dancers improvising on the shapes of trees and birders with iPods contributing the real songs of birds.
“The point of the piece is to get people to slow down and pay attention to the environment,” Liu said. “We lead such busy lives, it is rare to take time to attune to the environment, and truly listen. Through this creative exploration of a hidden gem in the Dayton community, we hope to inspire others to listen and see their environments more deeply.”
Liu said the piece is very much in the spirit of the garden’s founder, the late Marie Aull, who opened and donated the garden to the public, and placed inspirational quotes throughout, encouraging visitors to enjoy nature and meditate on its beauty.
Participants include professional musicians from the area, dancers from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and the Dayton Ballet, and birders familiar with the region’s birds.
Liu said the some paths go over rugged terrain and recommended appropriate footwear. iPhone users may also participate by downloading iBird Explorer Lite, a free app, before the performance.
Liu’s role as community artist/investigator for Blue Sky is new for the organization, a juried international summer artist residency now in its seventh year and its third based in Dayton, that brings internationally recognized artists to the area to work with young people on public, contemporary art.
The new position was prompted by Liu’s work in 2010 with Blue Sky and the community connections she made, according to Peter Benkendorf, founder and co-creator.
“Collaboration and community are central to both Blue Sky Project and the University of Dayton. It’s exciting to see Blue Sky expand through an artist who is taking the Blue Sky model beyond collaboration of program participants, and out to the larger community,” said Benkendorf.
It’s a good fit for the University, according to Paul Benson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, because it combines the University’s commitment to community and its interest in infusing the creative process into education.
Blue Sky also makes good use of ArtStreet, an innovative living and arts community on campus, where the artists both live and make art in the facility’s studios, Benson said.
“We are pleased to support Blue Sky as well the new community artist/investigator position as part of our ongoing commitment to expand the arts on campus and in the community,” he said.
“Translations” is the second major collaboration for Liu and Veal. Their 2010 production “Of a River” transformed the Schuster Center Wintergarden with dancers, musicians and 600 yards of silk.
Liu is a Boston-based, classically trained violinist who performs internationally and creates innovative shows involving improvised music, narration and audience interaction. Her ongoing project, “A Bird a Day,” explores birds, sunrises and music at www.abirdaday.org.
Dayton native Rodney Veal is a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist whose work has been featured at the Ohio Dance Festival, among others. Veal teaches at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton and Sinclair Community College. A solo show of his work, “Reveal: Five Zones on Beauty,” opens July 23 at the Springfield Museum of Art.”
For information on Blue Sky and the “Transitions” performance, including an alternative venue in case of rain, visit http://www.blueskydayton.org
SANCTUARY composed by Shaw Pong Liu (4/28/2011)