Two arts groups are hoping the glorious weather holds up through the weekend because they are giving site-specific performances outdoors. Saturday afternoon, the statewide Florida Waterways Dance Project, featuring about 40 Tampa Bay area dancers, will do a piece at Pass-a-Grille on St. Pete Beach. And then on Sunday afternoon, the New Music Consortium, part of the USF School of Music, presents Robert Morris' Oracle in a performance by 23 musicians at Lettuce Lake Park in Tampa.
Dance on the beach
At 4 p.m. Saturday, dancers all over Florida will perform a 40-minute piece of choreography inspired by Florida's waterways. In the bay area, the performance at Pass-a-Grille will be by dancers from the USF dance program, Moving Current Dance Collective, the University of Tampa dance program, Tampa's Blake High School, Forever Moving Company and other groups.
At exactly the same time, there will also be dance performances near water in Miami, DeFuniak Springs in Niceville, Boca Raton, Gainesville, Fort Lauderdale, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville.
"The goal of this project is to unite the state of Florida though its unique and extensive arts in education programs,'' said Dale Andree, a member of the dance faculty at Miami's New World School of the Arts, who conceived the project. "These young artists … hope to bring to the attention of the public the essential need of healthy society for clean water and inspired art.''
When the Tampa Bay performance was being planned several months ago, Pass-a-Grille was selected with "the Gulf oil spill in mind,'' said Merry Lynn Morris, who teaches dance at USF.
The pieces being done around the state will be different, but each is meant to be founded on a "seed phrase,'' posted on YouTube for choreographers to use as a kind of theme. It's a 5-minute clip of dancers in a studio working through a sequence of movements.
If the weather is nice on Saturday, Morris expects the beach to be crowded. The dancers will do their performance amid swimmers, Frisbee players, joggers and sun worshippers. "We're all wearing some form of red,'' she said. "I think it will look eye-catching.''
New music in the park
Oracle will be performed twice Sunday in a clearing at Lettuce Lake Park, with the musicians widely spaced around the area.
"The piece really challenges the conventional arrangement of ensemble and audience,'' said Baljinder Sekhon, visiting professor of composition at USF, who advises student composers in the New Music Consortium. "The musicians will be set up all around the space.''
Robert Morris, 67, is professor of composition at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Oracle is his third piece designed to be played outdoors. Influenced by the "chance'' compositional techniques of John Cage, the structure of the 64-minute piece is "based on the I-Ching, one of the Chinese classic texts ... in which 64 hexagrams are used to suggest appropriate actions in response to questions posed by the reader,'' according to a program note by Morris. The instrumentation includes strings, woodwinds, brass, electronic keyboard and percussion.
Morris visited Tampa to choose the site and will attend Sunday's performance. "The location is very important,'' Sekhon said. "It's all about music and nature. He wanted a place that had the least amount of sound pollution from traffic. He visited six possible places, and said Lettuce Lake Park was definitely the one.''
John Fleming can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8716.