Atlantans looking to experience a completely unique arts event this weekend should stroll down Peachtree Street in Midtown tonight and Saturday night at 8 p.m. and park themselves on the front lawn of the High Museum.
Even in this heat and humidity, the GloATL dance troupe of performance artists will present “Roem,” the concluding show of their inaugural season led by arts impresario and self-described “dancemaker” Lauri Stallings.
The performance is billed on the GloATL website as “Come. Witness Uniqueness.”
That may actually be under selling it a smidge.
With a sly smile, the enchanting, faery-like Stallings tells us the dancers will begin the performance by “migrating” in costume from Ansley Park out of buildings and parked cars across Peachtree Street to the Renzo Piano campus at the Woodruff Arts Center.
Where a dancer inside a large bird’s nest awaits.
Last week, Intel was invited into a private rehearsal of “Roem” inside Symphony Hall where Stallings was busy translating the movements in her head to the GloATL dancers and three drummers who will provide tribal accompaniment for the “Blades of Grass” piece.
The dancers slowly evolve up from the earth during the piece.
Stallings plays a recording of the kind of tribal drumming she envisions for the piece just once for the musicians and then the live percussionists are left to collaborate on the rest. Similarly, nothing is set in stone with the choreography.
Stallings tells the dancers at one point in rehearsal: “Bring something from your life to it. Bring something real and genuine, yeah?”
Like a late-night jazz combo completely in sync at the Village Vanguard, Stallings, the dancers and the drummers then set forth and create simultaneously, improvising as they go.
After the first run-through with the percussionists, the dancers beam, hug each other and applaud the drummers.
“Everyone has a story, a history to bring into the creation,” Stallings explains. “Each person is a part of the creation and evolution of the piece. Everyone’s life gets represented. That’s what makes GloATL so joyous to me.”
That’s also what makes Stallings so stunningly unique to observe. It’s completely unheard of to watch a New York Times critically acclaimed choreographer like Stallings so open to outside ideas, ego-impaired and collaborative.
Of GloAtlanta’s inaugural season (which included a surprise performance last weekend at Big Boi’s “Art of Life” benefit where the dancers delighted attendees by initially posing as cocktail party guests before breaking into dance), Stallings says it’s been an adventure.
“This is GloAtlanta’s final full-length creation of our first season,” Stallings explains. “This piece is more reflective for us. We’re looking back a bit at our evolution with this piece. The city has been amazingly supportive. I’m always interested in helping Atlanta reveal its cultural diversity. When you take dance out of the theater and that conventional space and bring it out into the public, there’s an incredible energy that accumulates between the artists and the audience. It’s really quite thrilling to see.”