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Art Collective's 'Non Opera' Is a New Take on Traditional Performance

By Casey Cora | April 22, 2014 7:53am
 Composer Christopher Preissing explains the premise of "From Here to There" as dancers warm up in the background.
Composer Christopher Preissing explains the premise of "From Here to There" as dancers warm up in the background.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

BRIDGEPORT — The creators of "From Here to There" ask the audience to lead themselves through a performance labyrinth filled with music, dancing and interactive art pieces.

The setup is designed for individual explorations "instead of us telling the audience what's important," said Christopher Preissing, composer for the project, which debuts Thursday at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St.

Guests will be ushered into the fifth-floor gallery and will stand atop a vibrating platform, where they'll soon be handed maps and greeted by a singing choir on one side and custom graffiti works by Mario Gonzales Jr. on the other.

From there, patrons are free to check out the many live performances taking place throughout the gallery. Each performance or installation was the creation of several co-creators, who conceptualized works to coalesce with certain themes.

There are dancers on stilts, interactive video installations, singers and musicians, including a trio who will play an instrument with a series of strings of varying lengths tied above the gallery and manipulated to produce different tones.

All of the performances are strategically placed around the 12,000-square-foot gallery to give patrons a sense of moving through a journey.

"The whole piece is about a journey ... what we hope is expressed is a literal journey [through the performance] and a metaphorical journey through time and space," Preissing said.

The performance ends with the audience surrounded by singers and accompanied by music as they depart for the evening.

Preissing, of Edgewater, said it was possible that people who arrived together would have completely different experiences. In fact, that's the goal.

"From Here to the There" is the debut exhibition by Preissing's arts collective called "non:op," which aims to "produce works that actively break with traditional performance structures and the traditional role of the spectator as passive observer," according to its website.

The production was composed by Preissing, Carmen Helena Tellez and Gregory O’Drobinak and enlists the help of co-creators, sculptor Gwendolyn Terry, choreographer Kristina Isabelle, video artist Liviu Pasare, filmmaker Salome Chasnoff and performers Linda Solotaire, Rita Ritz and Stacia Spencer.

"From Here to the There" runs Thursday through Saturday at the Bridgeport Art Center. Tickets are available at the project's website.