Red Hook Studio Hosts DIY Dance Workshop and Traditional Gaelic Ceilidh

By Nikhita Venugopal on June 17, 2013 8:20am 

RED HOOK — Harriet Plewis wanted dance to be about freedom.

The 32-year-old filmmaker and performance artist, who lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne, was looking to create dance without everyone having to agree on a single movement, she said.

And, she added, by letting people have an opinion.

Dance School NYC, a "part workshop, part performance and part party” was born out of wanting to explore the relationship between words and movement, said Plewis.

The workshop, held from June 24 to 28, will begin with a discussion, be it on depression (emotionally or financially), Syria, gender or even the willingness to participate, she said.

Groups will then draw on different words and emotions to create a dance routine that will be recorded as a “score” – a combination of text and movement.

“The movements are based on people’s reactions to the stimuli,” she said. “You could never interpret it in a way that was definitive.”

The free four-day session will end in a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee), a twist on a traditional Gaelic social dance and gathering on June 29, said Plewis, who called the final event a “public sharing.”

“It’s a bit like a barn dance,” said Plewis, who, in true Ceilidh style, will act as the “caller,” giving instructions to the dancers based on scores that were created over the week’s workshop.

“It’s kind of like having a dinner party with no tables or chairs… and no dinner,” she said.

But you don’t have to worry about dancing right or looking good, said Plewis, adding that the group could follow along with her explanations and demonstrations of each dance.

The workshop is open to all and people are welcome to walk in and out of the session, even just to check it out, said Plewis.

For people living in the city, a complete freedom of movement could be hard to grasp, said Laura Arena, director of DE-CONSTRUKT [projekts] at 41 Seabring St., where the workshop will be hosted.

“It’s an experiment of letting down all your boundaries,” she said. “People secretly want to explore [it].”

For Plewis, the “Do-It Yourself” movement is the most important aspect of the workshop, allowing people to explore dance without any formal training.

“It’s quite liberating,” she said.

Dance School NYC is a weeklong collective dance creation from June 24-28 from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m., culminating in an evening of public sharing at DECONSTRUKT [projekts] space (41 Seabring St.) on June 29 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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