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“From an acclaimed master comes a complete guide for how to create a site-specific work. Offering both practical and philosophical advice, Koplowitz captures the excitement and challenge of choreographing outside the proscenium frame. He includes a spectrum of voices of today’s diverse dance artists who have immersed themselves in this type of adventure. More than a manual, this book will deepen one’s relationship to the environment and expand one’s relationship to art-making.”—Wendy Perron,

author of The Grand Union: Accidental Anarchists of Downtown Dance, 1970-–1976

“Over his three decades-plus of creating memorable site dances, Koplowitz has meticulously accounted for all the contingencies you could think of and many you couldn’t – including touchy subjects like negotiating fees, photo and video rights, salaries, raising extra funds to cover shortfalls – all with practical information, gleaned from his experience and from that of other artists who have explored the site genre. With almost uncanny insight, Koplowitz considers everything, foreseen and unforeseen, that might conspire to foil your best-laid plans.”

Gus Solomons Jr.

Dancer, Choreographer, Writer

“A lively, engaging book that draws us into the inspiration and power of site-based performance while breaking down the steps on how to make it happen safely and successfully. Koplowitz traces his decades of remarkable work, while also highlighting the stories of innovative artists who share their own discoveries and challenges. As we all consider where performance can and should happen, this is an essential read.”

Pamela Tatge

Executive and Artistic Director, Jacob's Pillow

Published by Oxford University Press, 2022
with contributions by Alden S. Blodget (editing) and Elise Bernhardt, Martha Bowers, Carol Brown, Mark Dendy, Laura Faure, Tony Giovannetti, Joanna Haigood, Anne Hamburger, Sara Hook, Debby Kajiyama, John King, Melanie Kloetzel Noémie Lafrance, Rosemary Lee, Debra Loewen, José Ome Navarrete Mazatl, Jennifer Monson Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, nibia pastrana Santiago, Nel Shelby, Judith Smith,Amara Tabor-Smith, Susanne Thomas, Nancy Wozny

On Site: Methods for Site-Specific Performance Creation is a practical book for artists and students at all levels who create or are learning to create sited performance based works. Author Stephan Koplowitz covers specific, hands-on strategies for an array of issues to consider before, during, and after embarking upon a project, including site selection, procuring permits, designing the audience experience, researching and exploring a site for inspiration and content, differences in urban and natural environments, definitions of key production roles, building effective collaborations with artists, and techniques to generate site-inspired production elements such as sound/music, costumes, lighting, and media. He also offers helpful chapters on project budgeting, contract negotiation, fundraising, marketing, documentation, and assessment.

Based on the author's career spanning over 30 years of site-specific creation, the book also includes the voices of over 24 other artists, producers, and writers who share their perspectives and experiences on the many topics covered. A guide designed to make site work practical, intentional, and attainable, On Site will become a well-worn reference for anyone interested in the creative process and discovering the power of site-specific works.

Contents

 

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Guest Biographies xv

Introduction: Inspirations and Definitions 1

PART I. HOW DO WE START? 17

1. What Motivates Site Selection? 19

2. Permissions, Permits, and Insurance 27

3. Designing the Event and Staging the Audience 34

PART II. MAKING A MASTER PLAN: PATHS TO RESEARCH 45

4. The Site as Inspiration for Your Work 47

A. Design/ Architecture— Site inventory 48

B History 54

C. Current Use 60

D. Community 62

PART III. FUELING YOUR VISION 69

5. Staffing Key Production Roles 71

6. Negotiating Fee and Contract 84

7. Planning Your Planning Budget 102

8. Fundraising for Your Artistic Plan: A Short Primer 116

PART IV. CREATING/ GENERATING CONTENT 135

9. Staging, Placing Your Work in a Site (One Method) 137

10. Site Content and Process 146

11. Collaboration and Collaborative Elements 155

Introduction: A Short Primer on Collaboration 155

A. Four Areas of Artistic Collaboration 159

B. Generating Costumes 165

C. Incorporating Visual Elements and Media 174

D. Designing Lights 187

PART V. CREATIVE AND PRODUCTION CHALLENGES 195

12. Rehearsal Process 197

13. Rehearsal Safety 205

14. Creating for Physically Integrated Casts and Accessibility 215

PART VI. MORE CHALLENGES (THEY NEVER END) 225

15. Working with a Set Budget after Fundraising 227

16. Promoting and Marketing the Work 234

17. Documentation 250

18. Assessment 267

19. Last, Last Thoughts 273

PART VII. APPENDICES 277

Appendix 1. Prompts and Exercises for Project Conception 279

Appendix 2. Additional Resources 283

Index 287