Some impression from Betsy Gregory, the artist mentor of the European project Dancing Museums, on the first residency at Museo Civico Bassano and Arte Sella, how has she worked with the artists, and how can restrictions become a challenge.
How did you become involved in the project Dancing Museums? What is the role of a mentor?
I was involved in B Project, the precursor to Dancing Museums, when I was Artistic Director of Dance Umbrella in London. Following B Project, the partners wanted to continue working together and to develop further what we had begun, especially the valuable relationships we had built with important museums in our cities. Although I am no longer with Dance Umbrella – and the new UK partner is Siobhan Davies Dance – the partners asked me to join the project as the artists’ mentor. In that capacity, my role is to follow what the artists are doing/creating, reflect back to them what I see, ask questions, answer any questions they may have and, sometimes, to provoke them! Mainly, however, my role is to support and guide them with as light a hand as possible.
How have you worked with five artists who didn’t know each other, and managed to put together different backgrounds and ideas?
It’s a little bit premature to answer your question fully as we are still at the very beginning of a journey that will take us through to March 2017. This first residency, in Bassano and Arte Sella, was primarily a time for the dance artists to get acquainted with each other – how they each think, how they work, how they operate as human beings. None of them had met before and they are all very different! Also, this is the first time I have been a mentor in a context like this one, so I am learning too. The artists’ goal at Arte Sella, set by Roberto Casarotto and BMotion 2015, was to create a durational dance performance in relation to that magnificent place and its art works. They only had four days to prepare it so the work was intense! Each artist developed his/her own individual ideas and they also began to explore working together. That was my personal goal for the week: to encourage the artists to start working together and begin sharing their ideas and knowledge. In answer to your question, I didn’t put their different ideas together: they constructed the durational dance event. What I did was help them to coordinate timings and how the different parts of the event would cross paths and connect with each other.
Have you found any difficulties working in a traditional museum (Museo Civico) and in an open space environment (Arte Sella)?
Over my career, I have commissioned and/or produced many site-specific dance pieces – outdoors, in museums, in historic buildings, etc. Working in unusual spaces and places is a particular interest of mine and I love the way it brings a new dimension to the relationship between performer and spectator. I relish it! Having said that, sometimes, the restrictions placed on artists by the management of a museum, or building, or site can be frustrating but artists always have a way of using limitations as opportunities and finding creative solutions. At Arte Sella, however, and Museo Civico as well, the artists had a lot of freedom, which was marvellous. In fact, at Arte Sella, Emanuele (Montibeller, the artistic director) and Giacomo (Bianchi, the President) even arranged to strengthen one of the sculptures they felt was unstable so that one of the artists could climb on it safely!
A documentation of the performances in Arte Sella on 30th August 2015:
Some images from the performances in Arte Sella on 30th August 2015
By Lara Crippa, Rita Borga, Silvia Aufiero
30th August – Arte Sella
READ MORE ABOUT DANCING MUSEUM PROPJECT #1st residency:
- Dancing Museums | A journey at Museo Civico Bassano , by Lara Crippa
Tags: Artesella, Betsy Gregory, Connor Schumacher, Dancing Museums, Fabio Novembrini, Operaestate Festival Veneto