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New York Dancers 'Melt' on a Wall

  • Behnam Nateghi

In 'Melt' dancers seem pinned to a concrete wall and appear to drip mellting beeswax

In 'Melt' dancers seem pinned to a concrete wall and appear to drip mellting beeswax

New York-based choreographer Noemie Lafrance creates her dances in unusual locations - public places, rooftops, sometimes even the sides of buildings. Her newest creation is a site-specific performance staged near a huge salt pile that New York City stores for use on its roads after a snowfall.

In a busy street corner near New York's South Street Seaport, where ships pass on the East River and trains roar on the Manhattan bridge above, dancers seem pinned to a concrete wall and, appearing to drip mellting beeswax, provide an unusual sight.

Called "Melt," it's the latest creation by choreographer Noemie LaFrance.

"So 'Melt' is inspired by heat. And it wants to push the boundaries of our limitations as physical bodies," she said. "So, we are fragile beings and if the sun was to suddenly just get hotter and hotter we couldn't really withstand that."

Some of her dances seek to draw attention to a social issue connected with a location, like the one she staged in the pool of New York's McCarran Park.

"I was really trying to bring attention to the pool that was abandoned that nobody was really caring for in a way… but actually that is not true there were a lot of people in the neighborhood who did care about that space but nothing was happening with it and it had been abandoned for 20 years," Lafrance said.

Other dances are inspired by the space, like this one on the roofs of the Fisher Art Center at Bard College in upstate New York, designed by American architect, Frank Gehry.

"It is that mystery that those buildings have in a way, that you don't really understand them," she said. "You know, straight walls are very easy for the mind to understand. So, I feel like his work brings people to think about shapes and how does that… and I bring another layer to that."

Noemie Lafrance also choreographs for the camera. She is famous for a video by singer-songwriter Feist, which she did in cooperation with filmmaker Patrick Daughter.

"It was really inspiring to make the piece and it was initially Feist's idea to do something sort of inspired by her youth, she did the Olympics and she did this big piece with a lot of people dancing together… so, we were trying to mimic that and we also trying to keep it more human, like it was more a group of friends …," Lefrance said.

In contrast to her other work, the dancers in "Melt" are extremely limited in their movements.

In 'Melt' dancers appear to drip mellting beeswax

In 'Melt' dancers appear to drip mellting beeswax

"They are like insects pinned on a wall.. I am using a lot of insect sounds in the piece, but I also think of it as a sculpture on the wall or as, sort of, a live painting," she said.

In fact, "Melt" has been described not as a dance "performance" but as a dance "installation." The dancers actually remain on their perches between the two nightly presentations, while hundreds line up outside to share the experience.