Award-winning choreographer Arthur Pita's Open Heart Productions will stage a 100 hour dance marathon at Greenwich Dance (3-7 June) as part of Greenwich Dances.
The event is a crucial stage of research for the company's forthcoming production, Nobody's Baby,based on the American phenomenon of the 1930s Depression, where couples danced almost non-stop for hundreds of hours in a desperate competition for prize money.
In preparation for the production, ten performers will dance from 5pm on Monday until 9pm on Friday in Greenwich Dance's Grade II listed 1930s Borough Hall, keeping strictly to the marathon's original rules. Audiences will able to watch at The Borough Hall or via a live-stream with Frank Moon and Band playing live at selected sessions. The project is supported by the Greenwich Dance & Trinity Laban Partnership.
Arthur Pita said: "I am scared and excited in equal measure about attempting this. The only way to really get a true glimpse into this world is to experience it like they did during the depression of the 1930's. Together with a fantastic troop of dancers, composer Frank Moon, musicians, actors and a team of stage management we will enter into this fully. We will apply the rules originally applied, work to the same schedule, eat what they ate and dance to the glorious music of this fascinating period. At the same time we will develop movement, characters and discover narratives. The aim is to really research this concept in depth and to recreate the atmosphere that occurred at the time but also discover the journey that the audience need to go on in order to experience what happened historically and also question it, and how it is relevant in today's culture.
Kat Bridge, Interim Artistic Director at Greenwich Dance added: "We have never attempted anything like this before, it's going to be a phenomenal feat of endurance for the dance artists taking part. This is a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the mad world of 1930s dance marathons, so don't miss it. TheGreenwich Dancesfestival is about celebrating dance in all its forms and this is a unique opportunity for audiences to be involved in research and development with one of the UK's most exciting choreographers, and get up close to the production process behind the scenes."
During the Depression, dance marathons generally lasted from six to twelve weeks. Contestants had to be in continual motion for forty-five minutes out of every hour, day and night, and were disqualified if both knees touched the floor. In keeping with the rules, performers at Greenwich Dance will be allowed 11 minutes in rest quarters every hour, with two minutes to get there, and two minutes to return to the floor.
Nobody's Baby will be produced in 2014. Greenwich Dances is part of The Royal Greenwich Festivals, supported by the Royal Borough of Greenwich. From 17 May - 27 June, Greenwich Dance will be animating streets, parks, libraries, museums and more across the borough, with performances and workshops from some of the UK's leading dance artists offering opportunities for everyone to get involved.
Greenwich Dance and Trinity Laban is a dynamic partnership creating ground-breaking performances, bespoke support for dance artists and an all-embracing programme of community and education work across South East London. The Partnership attracts National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England.
For more information and full event listings, visit Greenwich Dance.