Yesterday Bodycity took over a piece of Los Angeles not often acknowledged by the general population. The Llano del Rio Collective performed OVERPASSAGES at the intersection of the 5 and the 110 freeways, a piece that takes its inspiration from Trisha Brown’s roof piece, performed in 1973—
“In Roof Piece, dancers telegraphed a sequence of big gestural moves from one to another along half a mile of downtown New York rooftops. No spectator could see the whole piece, but when the sequence reached the end and was relayed back the other way, you could see how the shapes decayed as each person picked them up and copied them…”
The performance was a site specific movement intervention in the landscape, taking advantage of Los Angeles’ in-between spaces, wilderness, topography, and most uniquely, the complex and ruthless freeway system. Stationed at various levels surrounding the interchange of the 110 and 5 freeways, Bodycity dancers engaged a movement cycle that would reflect eachother and slowly decay over time. Clad in flourescent yellow leggings and white shirts, the dancers acted as small reflectors in the landscape, alternately wild and concrete.
Viewers were situated at various stations, also at different levels: one at the spiral staircase that descends to the intersection of the 5/110 freeway, two at bridges above the LA river, one atop the 110 tunnel, and another on the hill that flanks the 110 on the west. I was on top of the Northbound tunnel of the 110 (which involved climbing a steep and treacherous sandstone crag), where I could see all dancers.
Apparently, the performance was striking not only to those who signed up for the show, but to hundreds of drivers heading southbound on the 110. Within 15 minutes of beginning the performance, so many drivers had called in to report the dancer above the freeway tunnel that police shut down the entire northbound 110. The police expected either tagging or a suicide attempt. (A dance performance was not expected…)
The piece literally stopped traffic. It was both adventurous and poetic and gave the viewers a very different perspective on what Los Angeles can be. If that is not a successful intervention in landscape, I don’t know what is.