By Deborah Searle
Ever heard of a Dance Truck?
When I first heard about Dance Truck I thought, ‘what a strange, yet intriguing concept!’ I was excited to think about the challenges and possibilities that dancing on the back of a truck could bring. But why dance on a truck?
In 2009, Malina Rodriguez founded Dance Truck after the producers of a local festival insisted that they lacked a suitable space for any kind for dance. “We’ll bring the space to you,” she proclaimed. Several U-Hauls later, Dance Truck has gained momentum not just as a novel concept, but also as a unique opportunity to challenge both artists and viewers in a variety of different locations and environments. Dance Truck, although unconventional, brings dance to people and shares our art form with the community. In just 22 months, Dance Truck has presented over 50 artists at festivals, museums, galleries, and roadside hotspots.
Choreographer Blake Beckham, who presented her work PLOT on Dance Truck at The Goat Farm, Atlanta in July explains, “The universe of contemporary dance can be so insular. Dance Truck dares us to move beyond the confines and culture of the concert stage, to re-envision our relationship with the public, to the site of dance and the situation of its making. In this way, it’s provocative and very much alive with a spirit of invention.”
Discussing her work PLOT and how Dance Truck has shaped her choreographic voice Beckham continues, “It is undeniable that the opportunity to work with Dance Truck has changed the course of my career, because of Malina’s wild ambitions, unwavering faith and creative vision. This mobile movement project has made an imprint on my way of looking, and of asking. So, when I drove up behind a pickup truck one September afternoon (its bed loaded with a fluffy blanket of sod) I saw it as a Dance Truck stage. I saw in it an imaginative opening: my PLOT. The piece has now grown into something momentous. It is the largest, most complex work that I’ve ever made and that Dance Truck has ever presented. None of this would have been possible without Malina’s leadership and tenacity.”
My first Dance Truck experience was enjoying a performance by Portland based choreographer Noelle Stiles, presenting her work Here Begins a Region of Eclipse at the MINT Gallery in Atlanta. Her unique performance embraced the starry sky on top of the truck bed as she took us on her journey to the space between sleep and wakefulness. Dance Truck was the perfect platform for the creation and presentation of such a work, and it seemed as though the outdoor setting had played a large role in the choreographic creation. “A performance in a traditional venue with a traditional audience relationship typically encourages a prescribed way in which we will all conduct ourselves. Taking performance out of that scenario brings an exciting amount of unpredictability and possibility to things and brought up different questions and variables to consider”, shared Stiles.
Performing outside does come with some drawbacks though. “It was a little hot but that’s what I get for coming to Atlanta in June to perform outside”, laughed Noelle.
Whether you look at dance as art, entertainment, or both, we can all agree that dance is to be enjoyed by the people, and initiatives like Dance Truck make this a reality, taking dance out of the theaters and literally into the streets.
“I like Dance Truck’s combination of grit and grace”, said Stiles. “I told Malina to reserve me a spot on the first national tour because it’s an idea that is so enjoyable on many levels and people respond to it. Dance Truck is also doing its part to fill a cultural void. This is a brave and important endeavor. If people want dance in their lives and in their communities, they need to meet projects like Dance Truck half way with tangible support in order for them to last.”
For more information about Dance Truck visit www.dancetruck.org