BWW Interview: Director Whitney Renfroe Infuses Dance and Painting in Formations Dance Company's Original Performance PERMANENCE at Forma Arts + Wellness
Birmingham is a city booming with innovation; in technology, medicine, start-up businesses, and the arts. This Friday, the all new Formations Dance Company is performing an original concept "Permanence", a creative contemporary dance performance that incorporates movement with fine art. Imagine if Sydney Pollack and Michal Baryshnikov collaborated on making art on canvas. With every move of the dancers body, a path of colored paint is applied to a canvas in precision. The dancer's bodies are the paintbrush; applying paint on the canvas in expressive motion. The dance and paint build to create an original piece of art brought to life right before your eyes. You will actually be able to auction on the painting made before you at the end of the performance
Director Whiney Renfroe is the visionary behind this fresh creative performance. She is a Birmingham native who has traveled and studied extensively as a professional dancer, choreographer, and is the owner of downtown Birmingham's hotspot performing arts space, Forma Arts and Wellness.
She shares her in journey in bringing the collaborative dance and painting of "Permanence" together. "So you have the idea of dancer stepping in paint and then stepping on canvas. Then you have to step back, and think, wait a minute. How is that going to work, because how do the dancers continue to dance on the floor without slipping all over themselves?" Also, if you mix many separate colors of paint together, it just turns brown and eventually the canvas will be this big sludge."
Such challenges forced her to be more creative as the choreographer. "I started thinking about what are the expressed moments, where is the paint going to be applied to the canvas, and how do I capitalize on that to make those movements meaningful? This created a whole new challenge of not just choreographing a dance, but also choreographing the application of the paint. (Laughs) Normally artists just pick up the brush, and they do what they want to do. The challenge was telling my dancers pick up the brush, and do this turn, and swoop down and do this perfect shape, in this perfect color, in this perfect location on the canvas. We've been working really hard."
DP - How difficult was the artistic development in comparison to choreographing a standard dance performance?
WR - I'd like to say it was easy. It offered many challenges, but at no point did I feel like it was an impossible feat. The whole point of the show and the reason I decided to name it "Permanence" is that I'm trying to capture that fleeting beauty you see during a dance performance, and physically represent it on canvas.
DP- What spoiler free elements can you share about the performance?
WR - There's a duet that's very powerful, and there's a moment where I won't give it away, but the really important marking is placed onto the painting they've created. I want whoever winds up taking that piece of art home to look at the specific work, and say that mark was meaningful to me in that moment when it was made; a permanent reminder of the emotion evoked in that moment. As a choreographer that's always the goal we put a jester we put them formation together and we want people to feel something but it's never before made permanent in the way we are creating with the artwork."
DP - What plans do have for "Permanence" in the future?
WR - - I can see potential in taking this on the road to perform on location; art galleries, art museums, and festivals. My ultimate goal in combining fine art with the performing art is to make dance relevant in the larger arts community. I feel like there tends to be a sort of disconnect. People don't know what contemporary dance is if they've never been exposed to it. "Permanence" is a shorter show paired with something that everybody is familiar with; paint making its way onto a canvas. This is a hook that I think our culture needs to be willing to expose themselves to this new style of dance."
Renfroe is very excited to bring contemporary dance to audiences in an exciting, fresh, and unconventional experience. "Permanence" is built with an extreme combination of expressive art and physical motion. If you are not connoisseur of dance, this creative performance by Formations will change your palate with an artisan flair.
Formations Dance Company
Director- Choreographer: Whitney Renfroe
Collaborating Artist: Sarah Mason
Friday, Sept. 13 at 7pm.
Forma Arts + Wellness
1820 3rd Ave N Suite 201, Birmingham, AL 35203
(Forma is next to Revelator Coffee on 3rd Ave downtown, across from McWane Center)
The paintings will be auctioned off after the performance. So be ready to bid.
For tickets:- HERE