In September 2019, to coincide with our Bridget Riley exhibition (15 Jun 2019 - Sun 22 Sep 2019), National Galleries of Scotland collaborated with internationally renowned dance artist and choreographer Janice Parker to bring dance into our gallery spaces. Parker is a seasoned dance activist experienced in participatory practice and equalities.
Together we put out an open call for participants and had a good response to the invitation to take part. Over an intensive two-week period of rehearsals Parker worked with members of the public, all non-professional dancers and many completely new to dance, to explore connections between movement, the body and aspects of Riley’s expansive writing.
The aim of the project was to create new encounters between the audience and Riley’s practice, to democratise dance and to empower participants in their physicality. By sharing the performance in the gallery, we wanted to shift expectations of places and spaces where to encounter dance.
The resulting performance incorporated choreography devised by each participant during the rehearsal period. On the night the performers presented six thematic sections of dance/ movement in the Bridget Riley exhibition in front of a sold-out audience. The performance included a mixture of static and promenade sections with the audience following performers between gallery spaces. It was a chance for audiences to reimagine the exhibition through the dancer’s exploration of Riley’s writings.
NGS would like to thank the participants for their commitment to the rehearsal schedule and the creativity each brought to the project. Feeding back on the experience, one participant commented that it was an: ‘incredibly invigorating experience’ and that involvement had: ‘made me re-evaluate what I see and how it affects me’.
Another recalled: ‘the moment we performed in the Royal Scottish Academy for a real audience among the most iconic works of Bridget Riley was absolutely amazing and surreal’.