//Ad libs: A personalized performance

Monday, January 21, 2008

A personalized performance

Everyone knows that iconic photo from the ‘50s, the one of the crowd in 3-D glasses watching a movie. I’m picturing something just as vivid in Memorial Auditorium this Friday night. Only this time audience members will be wearing iPod earphones.

As part of the 8 p.m.
Stanford Lively Arts program, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company is integrating interactivity into its 2006 work "eyeSpace." Audience members get to choose what they listen to while the dancers are on stage: either the ambient sounds in the theater, or a score by Mikel Rouse on their iPods. They can jump from track to track while the performance is going on, which means the person sitting next to you could be experiencing a very different show indeed.

As the dancers move in blue unitards, you could be listening to the urgent “America’s Secrets,” hearing a pulsing beat and singers chanting, “We must protect America’s secrets.” Meanwhile, your neighbor is hearing the strumming guitars of “My Love’s Gone Remix” or the minor-key intro of “How I Stayed Blind.” What an intriguing way to put your own stamp on your arts experience.

The dance company is also performing a different version of "eyeSpace" as part of Saturday night's program. It’s a 2007 iteration with music by
Annea Lockwood (no iPods this time). The score includes “improvised instrumentals and electronics over immersive recordings of bowed metal instruments and underwater insects,” as the company’s Web site describes it. Ticket info is here.

Pictured: Dancers from the Merce Cunningham Dance Company; photo from www.merce.org.