Dance company brings old films to life


The first in a series of free DownStreet Art performances opens Thursday night, June 25, when the Kinodance Company presents a live dance presentation, The Refractive Kinescope, which explores the history of silent cinema.

Thursday's dance performance will kick off the second annual DownStreet Art project in the MCLA Gallery 51 Annex at 65 Main Street in North Adams, the site of The Refractive Kinoscope exhibit.

"For this exhibition, they've created a huge film loop with 1920s film stills in the gallery," explained Jonathan Secor, director of special programs at MCLA. "Tiny toy trains with lights wrap around and spiral through the room, creating a moving picture effect."

The trains transport the projector bulbs, illuminating more than 200 celluloid oversized film frames selected from the silent films that form a ribbon spooling between two reels, spanning the entire space.

The exhibition is set in motion not only by the model steam locomotives, but by the spectators themselves. As visitors to the installation follow the lights, they become the mechanisms of the projector and bring the frames into motion.

In front of them, scenes filled with famous and forgotten silent era Hollywood stars will pass by.

Moving through the installation, viewers will actively engage in reinterpreting and creating new meanings out of the historic material.

For the live performance, sequences from early silent films will be explored using dances based on lost theatrical performances of silent film actors. By choreographing the performance of dancers alongside the film presentations, Kinodance Company considers the states of loss, decay and nostalgia that pervade the contemporary view of the silent era as they challenge the notion of history as an unknowable, untouchable, unfeeling and no-longer-moving archive.

According to the Company, "Our installation is conceived as an organism that puts the viewer in the belly of a film projector offering metaphorical interpretations of film experiences and exposing the choreographic nature of early cinema."

A Boston-based interdisciplinary artist collective, the Kinodance Company includes visual artist Dedalus Wainwright, filmmaker Alla Alla Kovgan, choreographers/performers Alissa Cardone and Ingrid Schatz. Michael Jahoda, a guest artist, also will perform.

Additional live dance performances take place Thursday, August 27, and Thursday, September 24, with both shows running from 6 to 8 p.m. during the DownStreet Art Walks.

DownStreet Art is a program of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center and its partners, MASS MoCA, the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Scarafoni Reality and the City of North Adams.  The program is made possible through lead sponsorship support provided by Greylock Federal Credit Union.  Additional support is provided by Adams Co-Operative Bank, Berkshire Bank, Edward Jones Investments, Gramercy Bistro, Papyri Books, Photoworks, and The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA.

DownStreet Art runs through October 18. For more information visit bcrc.