4×4=100 Choreographers Dancing Outside

The rain pours down on us, and thunder rumbles. We are in wet grass. 100+ choreographers are dancing in a big grid, with audience on all sides. Organic movement swells in certain areas, where everyone seems to work together, connected, and in other areas, people wear headphones, maintaining their individual integrity. Chris Schlichting and Max Wirsing wear gray shirts and do the Electric Slide, or something like it. I hear Chris whispering into Max’s ear. Raindrops fall directly into my eyes. Tom Carlson holds an umbrella over someone’s notebook so it doesn’t get wet. Jennifer Mack does a penche in one pointe shoe and one naked foot. Deborah Jinza Thayer wrestles with a pink umbrella, in a pink swimming pool with tons of water in gallon jugs. Stephanie Fellner dances next to Dustin Maxwell, both in white, while Dustin eats Trix with soymilk. Theresa Madaus dances in a gold beret, wearing head phones. I can see across the square a big white structure that someone in a cartoon prison outfit is dancing with. In the square next to me is a big piece of plastic. Judith and April are lounging, drinking champagne, totally outside the grid. Jennifer Arave has a big wooden stick, with a phone taped to it. Megan Mayer wears a tiny tie, and Arwen Wilder and Kristin Van Loon (HIJACK) are in green.

Noises grow, some music, loud voices from elsewhere, Laurie blowing an airhorn to signal us in, the Walker security making unintelligible announcements, all supported by the rain and rustle of costumes, bodies, feet. A person with a bullhorn accused the piece of reducing us to equally unimportant entities, to which I say Yes! It does! How wonderful!

How wonderful that we were all there, squeezed close, respecting (or disrespecting) boundaries as we chose, on the same field, the same squares, no grant money or award or prestige to hold us apart from each other. How excellent that Otto ran helterskelter through us all, and Judith and April drew their own squares to dance in, and I stayed in mine, and Billy Mullaney had a ladder to be up high? How radical to be in a group where I know so many and yet there are so many new faces…and beyond that, there are so many who didn’t even participate!

We dance for 21 minutes, take a big bow to the four directions, take a picture together and then run inside to avoid lightning. Everyone is dripping wet; the Walker hands out pink ponchos that I wear to my next show. As I bike away, I realize what a clever thing Laurie Van Wieren had done. Aside from the performance that was 4×4=100, she offered what choreographers crave (performance opportunities) to trick us into hanging out together! To get us to represent the community, to help us make new friends, to trick us into being counted.

 Artist: Laurie Van Wieren

Piece: 4×4 = 100 Choreographers Dancing Outside
Show: Walker Open Field
Venue: Walker Art Center
Date: July 12, 2014

Post by: Tara King


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