Dd Response: gloATL's Hippodrome Offers a Feast for the Senses

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Atlanta choreographer and contemporary artist Lauri Stallings has a knack for transforming people and spaces into physical expressions of humanity. Several weekends ago, with the aid of her gloATL dancers, artist Gyun Hur, Georgia Tech’s Contemporary Music Ensemble Sonic Generator, the Opera Singers of Atlanta, and Top Flr chef Darren Carr, Stallings transformed Goodson Yard into a circus for the senses. This past weekend marked the third set of performances of Tanz Farm: A Performance Anthology. At 8:00 pm, on Saturday, March 23, 2013, upon entering the doors of Goodson Yard, I began an internal journey into another world. It was a world in which the physical structure of a hippodrome, most commonly known as a Greek Stadium for horse and chariot racing, became a metaphorical vessel for emotions.

Photo credit: gloAtl and Shawn Robert Cuni

For the performance, Goodson Yard housed a large wooden oval structure. The audience sat on risers, looking down onto a large performance space bordered by a piece of grass. Not only did the dancers move within the structure, they also interacted with it. Mirrors lined the inside of the space and flowers surrounded the dancers as they moved. Adorned in yarn and lace, the dancers placed flowers in their mouths, and gazed at themselves in mirrors.

Photo credit: gloATL and Shawn Robert Cuni

The space itself had been intricately designed to house the dancers as they experienced each movement. Halfway through the show, I was offered a tray on which several small vials of liquid lay. I took one and drank the sweet liquid. I also noticed a smell in the air; something was burning. Several times throughout the show, the dancers stretched out a hand or an arm, as if reaching to the audience.

Stallings’s movement requires total commitment from a dancer. Mind, heart, and body must be fully engaged and ready to give at all times. This was also the case in Hippodrome — a feeling of yearning inspired the dancers’ every move. Whether the dancers experienced hurt, sorrow, or playfulness, the audience was given the opportunity to experience the sensation with the performers.

All elements of the show, the sounds, tastes, smells, movements, and physical structures, were rich and provocative. I left the show feeling as though I had taken a journey. Repeatedly, Stallings does a remarkable job of bringing together artists and people. This third Tanz Farm production was simply another example of her inspired collaborations.

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