Everything in Its Place (2019)

dance performance with Wild Space Dance Company
Performed by: Katelyn Altmann, Brea Graber, Amanda Laabs, Mauriah Kraker, Lindsey Ruenger, Maggie Seer, Jimmi Weyneth
Choreography by Debra Loewen
Sound design by Warren Enström

Everything in Its Place is a site-specific dance performance created by Debra Loewen for the Echelon Ballroom in the historic Eschweiler building in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Built in 1912, the Eschweiler buildings (of which only one remains) were first an agricultural school. In the 1920s, they became a home for wards of the state. The ballroom was used first as gymnasium for the school and then as a chapel for the children's home. In the 1960s, the building fell into disuse and eventually suffered from extensive disrepair after decades of neglect. In 2016, the Mandel Group redeveloped the complex into apartments. Two of the three buildings were razed. The third building was renovated and converted into office space, the apartment complex's clubhouse, and a ballroom to be used as an event space. The ballroom has a tall, vaulted ceiling, with two balconies on the east and west sides of the room. Four large ribs hold the ceiling aloft, where two large skylights are set into the roof, facing north.

The piece was generated from improvisations conducted on-site by the dancers and myself, with Debra Loewen curating, driving, and organizing the materials we developed into the full show. Through our improvisations, we explored the space both physically and sonically, and created a work that weaves itself into the building's history and the room's unique architecture. For the sonic aspect of the performance, I improvised on bassoon, performed a creaky door, dragged my bassoon along a wall, and slapped, stomped, and brushed against a radiator. My performance also included movement throughout the space integrated with the dancers. See below for stills from the production as well as audio recordings of a few sections of the piece. The upper left photo is by Brea Graber and the rest are by Paul Mitchell.

A group of five white women stand close together, their left arms raised into the air. They wear shades of orange and purple. Their shoulders are arched as if their arms are wings and they're waiting to take flight. A sixth woman crouches to the right of the other five, in an archway leading to a recession in the wall. She is also wearing shades of orange and green. The room is cast in warm white light. Three women stand in a row. The woman closest to the camera leans rightward, her right arm held rigidly to her side as she looks over her shoulder. The woman behind the closest woman leans leftward, stretching her right arm forward as if grasping for something in front of her. The woman at the back stands with her right arm above her head, delicately suspending it there. The room is cast in warm amber light.
Two people bend at the hips towards the right. The woman closest to the camera is watches the other person. The person bending in the back is holding a bassoon parallel to the floor and is pushing it against the wall while playing it. They are wearing shades of dark blue, while the woman wears shades of orange and red. The room is cast in a dim pink light. Three women stand in a tight cluster, their arms held straight outwards at their sides like the letter T. The two women in the front are touching side-by side, forming two sides of a tight triangle. The woman in the back is farther away, her face hidden. Both women in the front look to the left. The room is lit in a warm amber light. Five women are in mid-action. The room is dark, cast in shades of blue and purple. One woman has her arms flung wide and is crouching. Another is falling to the ground. A third woman is pushing into the ground with her hands, holding herself up. The fourth woman is taking a power stance, her legs spread wide and rigid, as if to do a martial arts move. The fifth woman stands tall, her hands tightly clenched on her upper arms.