Zornitsa Stoyanova had never been asked to perform sans clothing before she appeared in Jumatatu Poe’s “Private Places” at last year’s Live Arts Festival.
“Initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about it,” says the Bulgarian-born, Philly-based dancer/choreographer. “But I became fascinated by it, because all of a sudden the performer had so much more power. I’m interested in the power dynamics between performers and their audience — how to make everyone comfortable while at the same time giving them an experience that is potent and interesting.”
Stoyanova’s thinking about those dynamics over the past year and a half has led to her new piece “shatter ::: dawn,” which premieres Wednesday. The show is designed to be a remarkably intimate experience, with only 10 audience members sharing the space with the five dancers of Stoyanova’s Here[begin] Dance company, and a light sculpture.
“If you go to a gallery or a museum, most of the time you end up walking by yourself at a distance from other people,” Stoyanova says. “I’m very interested in the difference between how performance art is so communal and museum or gallery art is such a solitary experience.”
“shatter ::: dawn” also grew out of a series of workshops Stoyanova took with renowned international choreographers, many of which dealt with questions of being bodily present and breaking the fourth wall. Working within a large space, the dancers will lead the audience through the experience of the piece, not using explicit directions or interaction but through the subtle suggestions of their movement. The five performers spend the first half of the piece in the nude, building on the reaction Stoyanova had to working in Poe’s piece last year.
“All classical high art is nude bodies,” she says, “but as soon as you put it into live performance people freak out or think it seems avant-garde or new, when in reality it isn’t. The first half moves very slowly to allow the viewers to feel that it’s normal — and also to go through all their, ‘Who’s got bigger boobs and who’s got a bigger ass?’ Which you do, even if you don’t know you’re doing it.”
If you go
“shatter ::: dawn”
May 22-29, 8 p.m.
1417 Second St.