Dancing on water, dancing up and down the Capitol steps, dancing while dangling above a crowd at Baton Rouge Blues Festival. In Garland Goodwin Wilson’s words, “It’s been a pretty good year.”
Her dance-theatre organization Of Moving Colors marked its 27th season, “Color Me Rouge,” with a series of site-specific performances and photo and video shoots at some iconic locations around Baton Rouge.
The results have put this sometimes-nontraditional dance company’s very nontraditional season out in front of larger crowds.
In late April, Of Moving Colors choreographed a routine and a flash mob on the Capitol steps during the recent legislative session to raise awareness about cuts to arts funding.
Just a few weeks before, three of their dancers were hanging off the side of the downtown library, performing a surprise aerial routine for Blues Festival revelers.
Over coffee at Strands Cafe downtown weeks later, Wilson, the company’s artistic director, recalls that preparations leading up to the performance were as nerve-wracking as being up there (she was on the roof filming her dancers).
“It was a Catch-22. We couldn’t get on the roof until we had approval from risk management,” she says. “So we didn’t even know what the roof looked like, and then when we finally got on the roof—it was totally flat. I mean, it was like this [she sets a plain sheet of paper on the table], with a drainpipe. That’s the roof.”
Securing the dancers was the main obstacle. What spectators didn’t see was that, in the end, the three dancers were rigged over the roof to a tree on the other side of the building. “We had, like, five safety measures in case the tree wanted to come out,” Wilson says.
They had performed aerial dances on a smaller scale in the past, and they brought back Rachael Inman, an aerial choreographer out of Mississippi, to help them. They rehearsed in an indoor space until just a few days before the event, when they were finally able to practice maneuvering over the side of the building.
Do they plan to take to the air again soon?
“Two of the dancers are ready to go to workshops this summer,” Wilson says, laughing. “I really think it takes them to a great place, too. I hope we do have an opportunity to do something like that again because so much energy was spent on just the development and the logistics of it. It would be fun to be able to really explore [more aerial dance] artistically.”
For Of Moving Colors’ final production of the season the company is pulling elements from all its recent site-specific works for two nights of performances at the Manship Theatre. The production, “Currant/Current,” features works from eight choreographers, all dealing with topics related to Baton Rouge. That’s everything from diversity to traffic to even just spending a lazy afternoon in the Garden District.
“I love the choreographers we’ve worked with,” Wilson says of the production. “For a city the size of Baton Rouge, we have a rich slate of choreographers offering a lot of different perspectives to dance here.”
And as soon as that final production is over, it’s back to the drawing board for next season.
“It’s been so much fun. I don’t know what we’ll do next season, but I know that these site-specific endeavors have been really fulfilling for not only me but the dancers as well—and hopefully for the city,” Wilson says. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from seeing our work tied together with the city.”