Dance event explores the wonder of “sculpted” movement
— Created August 24, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Price Sculpture Forest in Coupeville is preparing for a unique first-time dance event.
Take a moment and digest that, because several questions immediately spring to mind. Dance? In Price Sculpture Forest? The answer to both is a resounding yes!
Wander/Wonder, A Sculptured Dance Happening, will take place Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at Price Sculpture Forest. There is a suggested donation of $20 per person, but this is also a pay-what-you-can event so all are able to attend. All proceeds from this event will benefit Langley’s Good Cheer Food Bank and Price Sculpture Forest.
The dance performance is the brainchild of choreographer and producer Eva Stone, who said she is always on the lookout for interesting places at which to perform.
“As an artist, my radar is always up,” she said. “I can’t ever go anywhere without thinking if dance could go there. Dance always needs a place to live.
“Around this time last year, a friend and I were on holiday on Whidbey,” Stone continued. “We were just driving down the road, saw a small sign and pulled in. We found Price Sculpture Forest by accident, really. And I thought ‘Oh, I could so put a dancer here.’ I constantly look for opportunities for dance in collaboration with art and the environment. I took down the number and called Scott [Price] immediately.”
Price, founder of the sculpture forest, liked the idea from the start.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Wow,’ followed a half-second later by, ‘Yes, let’s do this!’” he said. “Her concept was great and she kept building on it, both as we planned together and then laid out specifics on site.”
The staging for this show is unique. Stone has selected nine sculptures at various locations within the forest at which to place 10 dancers (one piece will have two dancers). The dances, which relate to the selected sculptures, are short and will be repeated throughout the two-hour performance window, so visitors may walk the trails and have an opportunity to see each of the dances.
“Each dancer will have a two-and-a-half-minute solo they will be instructed to perform as many times as they can in that two-hour period,” explained Stone. “People will come by, see the performance, and move on. Each piece is unique and individual.”
Anyone who has visited the Price Sculpture Forest is aware of the space – or lack thereof – around the sculptures. Some have more room than others. That has proved to be a challenge Stone and her selected dancers have embraced.
“It certainly is one of the more challenging spaces,” Stone acknowledged. “Some of the spaces next to the art are small and very confined. The dancer can’t move much. We have to get creative and use the body to its maximum. It’s definitely one of the most creative places I’ve worked, with challenging problems we’ve had to solve.”
“I am really looking forward to seeing how Eva and each professional dancer will interpret and interact with each selected sculpture,” said Price. “Each dance performance will add new dimensions of time, movement, story, personality and meaning. The dancers will be movement artists responding to and building upon the work of the sculpture artists.”
Stone said she loves the immediacy and intimacy of dance and hopes to create meaningful performances that will touch those who wander through this winding trail of sculpted – and now moving – art.
“Dance is temporal. As soon as it’s over, it’s gone,” she said. “It really is in that moment, in that time, in that space. It makes it very fulfilling.
“I think that just like the title Wander/Wonder suggests, people will find something magical in each performance,” Stone continued. “They’ll find grace, heartbreak, they might find tragedy or beauty. They will definitely find kinesthetic exploration that will evoke some sort of response or trigger a memory.”
“Visitors will be able to experience something completely new,” agreed Price. “It is for people of all ages and interests. We always strive to provide an experience that spans beauty, introspection, joy, and education. This grows all of those goals for visitors who can come and be a part of this performance.”
Price said performances such as Wander/Wonder fit perfectly with the overall vision of the sculpture forest.
“We are about presenting unique, nature-integrated art in a tangible, relatable, interactive, and personal way,” he said. “We already expand beyond the sculptures themselves by very intentional consideration of how they interrelate with their surrounding environment and how a visitor approaches them. This further builds on that principle by showing how seemingly static sculpture can come alive through interactive, purposeful movement that is personalized for each sculpture. It is a whole new way to experience dance and it is a whole new way to experience sculptural art.”
Stone said she hopes people will see something captivating, that they will arrive one way, and find themselves changed somehow. She hopes the nonverbal, abstract language of movement and dance will speak to those who choose to wander through the sculpture forest Saturday and leave its mark on their hearts.
“I’m excited to be on Whidbey on a beautiful August day, having beautiful dancers doing what they do best,” she said. “I’m most excited about setting my little creatures free in the woods and letting them have this experience. Not only does it enrich viewers, but also the dancers. Whether they’re onstage at McCaw Hall or in the woods, it all adds to their experience as an artist. It only exists when it happens, and then it’s over.”
“We have never considered ourselves to be just a park or just sculptures,” said Price. “This event adds an important new layer of possibility and enjoyment on top of what we already offer.”