Collage Dance Theatre is a nonprofit, site-specific dance performance company based in Los Angeles, California. We seek non-traditional venues and methods for creating contemporary dance theatre works that seek new forms of relationship between audience and performer. In developing our choreography, we draw strongly on the history, community, and architecture of each performance site. We actively seek collaborations with artists, arts organizations, and community groups in order to forge a link between professional performance, public space and audience.
Collage Dance Theatre forges new relationships between audience, performer and performance space by creating new works for non-traditional venues and using traditional arts venues in unexpected ways. Collage seeks to expand the field of dance by producing interdisciplinary works that connect diverse communities with contemporary advancements in the performing arts.
Collage Dance Theatre (CDT) was founded in 1987 by Artistic Director and Choreographer Heidi Duckler. Over the years Collage Dance Theatre has continually created thought-provoking, innovative works that draw, not only on architecture and our relationship to it, but also on the histories and bridging of communities.
Most recently in 2007 Duckler, in collaboration with her sister writer Merridawn Duckler decided to use the theater space as the site for the first full-length installment of My Beowulf, a modern retelling of the ancient myth. The story of Beowulf, coming from an oral tradition strongly tied to community, memory and identity, always meant to engage the whole community. My Beowulf extends this sense of community engagement to its contemporary audience by involving the audience in unexpected ways.
CDT has grown over the years toward national and international recognition, receiving commissions in New York, Copenhagen, Las Vegas, Portland, and most recently in Hong Kong.
Under Heidi Duckler’s direction, our choreographic practice is based on a response to our surroundings, the physicalizing of concepts, and the development of organic movement phrases that express the psychological relationship between people and their environment. Our site work is not fixed or static. We organize space with an eye to relationship—between buildings, objects, people and ideas. Often it is taken for granted that a space has one use. Stairs are meant for climbing to the next floor. Beds are made for sleeping and dreaming. But if the function is not the primary concern, how else do we connect to space, what else might be essential? In both our large scale works such as Sleeping with the Ambassador performed at the Ambassador Hotel, and our non-heroic works presented at laundromats, we create choreography that both responds to a space and at the same time undermines our assumptions regarding its original function. We may approach an architectural or culturally significant site—such as the L.A. Police Academy, the L.A. River or any historic space that has never before been considered for a dance performance—and create a dance that animates this space in unexpected ways. We are interested in creating works that explore the vast under-realized potential that a space has for movement and meaning.
Collage Dance Theatre strongly feels that a performance does not exist without its audience. Over many years we have looked for ways to engage our audience in a way that extends beyond traditional spectatorship. We are curious about what happens to an audience during a performance when the rules are not a given. We explore ways in which the audience engages in the “work” of the performance. This does not necessarily mean the audience interacts with the performance. It may mean that the audience has been privy to the process of creation and witnesses a performance that has unfolded in their presence. This is why many of our rehearsals are open to the public. Our audience is affected by the arrangement of the space, but how does the audience decide what to see? Our live performances have multiple vantage points, complex and layered, as an audience travels into and through the space. The audience makes decisions about their participation, conscious or not, and this personal point of view informs their ultimate experience.
As we bring an audience into a performance site, they may feel the trace of something formerly present—the everyday life that the building once held. The place is not in motion like it was previously and this felt absence is part of the experience. This felt absence is memory. After a show, the performance itself then adds another history to the space where the residue of image and metaphor is left behind.
Collage Dance Theatre's accessible, site-specific performances enrich the lives of the audiences and communities through thought-provoking cultural experiences.
Grow and expand CDT's local and national presence
Develop new collaborations across both non-profit and for profit organizations
Continue to engage new audiences and communities.
Heidi Duckler, Artistic Director, founded Collage Dance Theatre in 1987. She has choreographed over 50 original dance works at unique sites in Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon and throughout Southern California including the Lincoln Heights Prison, the Los Angeles River, the Subway Terminal Building, the Herald Examiner Building, the Ambassador Hotel and the L.A. Police Academy. Called “the reigning queen of site-specific performance,” by the L.A. Times, her work has been commissioned by Miami Light, Grand Performances, Roy and Edna Disney Hall (REDCAT), Aben Dans in Denmark, and the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation, among others.
She currently teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc) and is a frequent visiting faculty member at colleges and universities. Awards include the California Arts Council Choreography Fellowship, C.O.L.A. Artist’s Fellowship, Dancing in the Streets commission, four Lester Horton Awards, three Irvine/Dance USA Dance in California grants (’03, ’05,’06), three awards from the Durfee Foundation and a residency at Yaddo. Her company also receives support from the National Endowment of the Arts, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, L.A.'s Cultural Affairs Department, Capital Group, S. Mark Taper Foundation, Puffin Foundation and the L.A. County Arts Commission.
2934 1/2 BEVERLY GLEN CIR 2 LOS ANGELES, CA 90077-1724 Phone: (818) 784-8669 www.collagedancetheatre.org EIN: 95-4152270
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