Bates Dance, Public Theatre offer new works, live and streaming, that explore collaboration

Jessica Wong

Participants in a previous “Being/With: Home” event. Courtesy of Nichole Canuso Dance Company During her bluest moment last summer, when Shoshona Currier was mourning the loss of Bates Dance Festival and feeling glum, she participated in a test version of new project by choreographer Nichole Canuso. In this piece, Canuso […]

Participants in a previous “Being/With: Home” event. Courtesy of Nichole Canuso Dance Company

During her bluest moment last summer, when Shoshona Currier was mourning the loss of Bates Dance Festival and feeling glum, she participated in a test version of new project by choreographer Nichole Canuso. In this piece, Canuso connected strangers, isolated by the pandemic, through technology and created an interactive, vulnerable moment for the participants, who shared their time and space – and sometimes their secrets.

“It was a meaningful moment about being alone in my space and yet being seen by somebody else and being seen by a stranger, which is something we are missing. We don’t get to run into strangers anymore and have those random interactions,” said Currier, director of the Bates Dance Festival. “There was something about that I really liked.”

Through mid-March, Bates Dance is hosting a continuing online event with Nichole Canuso Dance Company for “Being/With:Home,” an experiential, interactive piece that involves a series of 60-minute “guided interactions” connecting two “solo audience members,” each in their own space, via Zoom. There’s a guide present, who leads the participants through the experience, but the guide is only heard and not seen.

In all, there were 42 live interactions available, with two people each. They are scheduled at various days and times through March 14, and many are sold out. Canuso and Bates also will host two public workshops for up 12 participants each on March 10 and March 14.

In the one-on-one interactions, participants do not dance, but the event does involve movement, gesture and interaction, said Canuso, who had been working on a live version of the idea for several years before the pandemic forced her company to adapt it to Zoom. At its core, it explores ideas of separation, connection and the power of listening, she said.

People are alone in their room and should plan to be uninterrupted for an hour. Participants will see each other’s space and will be asked to move around their space. No one will be watching, it’s not recorded or broadcast. “You get to choose what you share,” Canuso said. “There has been a range of keeping it light and dropping in with depth. That is intentional. We don’t know what mood or head space people will be in when they arrive.”

But it’s always interesting what people will share with a stranger they know they will never see again.

“Being/With:Home” by Nichole Canuso Dance Company and Bates Dance Festival is available as a live online event through March 14; tickets cost $15; visit batesdancefestival.org for details and tickets.

Emma Wisniewski and London Carlisle star in “I and You” streaming at the Public Theatre in Lewiston March 8-21. Courtesy of the Public Theatre

Last March, the pandemic forced the Public Theatre in Lewiston to cancel its production of “I and You” – a play about being homebound – the day it was to open. Preview audiences loved the show, and director Christopher Schario wanted to capture the performance. Before the actors went home to New York, the theater invited a small audience to watch a final performance, which was being recorded.

From March 8-21, the Public Theatre will stream that recording through its website. Tickets cost $15 per person or $25 per household.

“Although watching theater on television may not be the same experience as seeing it live,” Schario said in a press release, “rest assured that our artistic standards remain high and we are proud to share this recorded performance, knowing it is an accurate representation of the show.”

“I and You” has been widely produced. It’s the story of a pair of teenagers who collaborate on a poetry project that leads to a much deeper bond. It stars Emma Wisniewski and London Carlisle.

For details and tickets, visit thepublictheatre.org or call 207-782-3200.

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