Like the rest of Bushwick, Black & White Project Space is making a weekend escape to Rockaway Beach. On Aug. 1, the studio (part of Black & White Gallery) will launch a contemporary dance series on the sand at Beach 81st Street. During Beach Sessions, four local choreographers will make use of a 360-degree stage and channel the surrounding seascape into dance.
“Their movement will look really beautiful in this wide open space,” said curator Sasha Okshteyn.
The first troupe, Reggie Gray’s THE D.R.E.A.M. RING, is a leader in flex dance, having recently showcased at the Park Avenue Armory and appeared in a number of music videos with artists like Nicki Minaj and Sean Paul. The other performers are Emery LeCrone Dance, Loni Landon Dance Project, and Shannon Gillen’s newly launched VIM VIGOR.
To turn the performances into a complete art project, Okshteyn has also invited photographers Daniel Terna and Samantha Casolari to capture the dancers during the shows and create original visuals.
The dances will “show the range of young choreographers in New York,” Okshteyn promises. “Reggie is very raw and street, Emery is contemporary ballet so she has a different perspective on classic ballet. Loni is very visceral, she is raw in contemporary modern [dance].”
A quick chat with Gillen about the duet she is choreographing confirms Okshteyn’s description of her style as “animalistic” and “very emotional and pretty acrobatic.”
“I wanted to think about how different the brain operates when exposed to that intoxicating heat — that hot, blinding clarity,” said Gillen, who just launched a Kickstarter campaign for her company today. The dance will reference the sense of isolation and the internal thought process that occurs when you sit on the beach, blanketed by the sun. Because the crowd will be in the same environment – the sun on their heads, the sand seeping between their toes – as the dancers, it will be intrinsically easier to bridge the space between audience and stage. “You can get sucked into inner life when you’re in the sun. The duet [showcases] the seduction of inner life and the disrupting of that space with the interference of another person.”
Okshteyn hopes that using the beach as a stage will reinforce a sense of environmental responsibility. Beach Sessions has partnered with Surfrider Foundation to organize beach clean-ups at at the end of each day’s second performance. Participants will get a drink ticket for a SixPoint at Rippers, over on the new boardwalk.
“With everything happening from global warming to hurricanes, I think it’s important for a community that lives right on our coastline to understand what’s going on and how to preserve it,” Okshteyn said.
Beach Sessions begins on August 1, with free performances running on four consecutive Saturdays until August 22. The stage is located on the sand at Beach 81 Street at Rockaway Beach, Queens. See below for the full schedule.