Los Angeles

From Time to Time: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre Engages Audiences Across California

JWizzleImag byFrancesChee

"When they brought the trailer here, I had no idea what we'd be able to create" announced Jamaal Johnson, who is more famously known as J-Wizzle at Warren Lane Elementary School in Inglewood. A now multipurpose vehicle filed with maps, spatulas, chairs, speakers, and ingenuity, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's Duck Truck (or 'Oasis' for those of you who joined us last year) has been travelling the city with the evolved and expanded identity of a mobile classroom. Collecting stories and delivering lesson plans, the Duck Truck has provided a door (literally) to direct arts engagement for over 520 young people in South L.A./Inglewood, East L.A./Boyle Heights, and Culver City.

The trailer, initially purchased for the performance of "At the Oasis," paired with Heidi Duckler's near 30-year commitment to the creation and education of site-specific work provided a vast foundation for the Duck Truck Residency Program. A curriculum-based initiative for schools, after school programs, and community centers built for the company's 1961 Oasis Duck Truck, the program focuses on the generation of original choreography -- rather than acquiring the codified movement of a specific genre of dance. The emphasis on critical and creative thinking develops universal and transferable skills and knowledge including, but not limited to respect, patience, self-expression, collaboration, and spatial awareness. Only 12 years young, J-Wizzle reported "There are so many other things I could be doing but I just like to move around and dance."

Copy that, J-Wizzle. You nailed it. At the deepest root of Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's mission and programs is the unconditional love of movement. Motion of the physical body, audiences' journeys through massive buildings, and even the motion of a cursor across a website, all encompass the dynamics of choreography and arts administration that drive our engagement. With the Duck Truck Residency Program and quickly approaching Engaging Dance Audiences Project, the physical trailer has become a conceptual ambassador for participation in the arts that gathers momentum with each site. According to Teacher and Program Manager Sadie Yarrington, "the Duck Truck has the unique capacity to reach countless students, communities, and dance audiences -- even standing a mere 8 ft wide and 10 ft tall!"

Trailer Interior

Throughout the month of April, our Duck Truck will travel to four California State University campuses: Los Angeles, Dominguez Hills, Fresno, and East Bay, and each location will participate in both live performances and remote audience events of the online stream. The movement of the trailer on the road and online mirrors not only Heidi Duckler's artistic vision, but also 2ndLine.tv's vision to build digital second lines of online creative communities. Juggling four campuses' schedules, IT departments, and regulations, on top of the performances' logistics, rehearsal schedule, and travel itineraries is no easy feat. Yet for Heidi Duckler: "These obstacles are not in the way. These obstacles are the way and define the creative process."

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Duckler carefully walks the line between 'Artistic' and 'Executive' roles, Heidi is quick to identify how (logistically and creatively) the arts create social bonding and meaning making through engagement, and specifically in this series of events, online. During all of the performances, Line Producer Shaya Mulcahy will be tucked away inside the trailer giving an 'inside the trailer' view of "From Time to Time...At the Oasis," thus building a traditionally inaccessible bridge between the remote audience and the performers. Individuals from all over the world can set up their computer screens to see both 2ndLine.tv's stream and Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's Twitter account to experience the exterior action-packed choreography and the interior pattern of dancers moving in, out, and around the trailer.

Interior Trailer | Photo: Scott Groller

Locations:

For April 3 from Fresno State, or join us live in the free speech area at 3:30pm and 8:30pm.
For April 9 from Cal State East Bay, or join us live at the Theatre Building Entrance/Robinson Hall Courtyard at 5:15pm and 8:30pm.
For April 17 from Cal State Dominguez Hills, or join us live between the theater building and student union below the walkway at 8:30pm.
For April 29 (International Dance Day) from Cal State Los Angeles, or join us live next to the Confucius statue at 3:20pm and 8:30pm


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Top Images: J Wizzle | Photo: Frances Chee.

About the Author

Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Emily Wanserski graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a dual degree in Dance and Political Science. Two suitcases in tow, Emily moved to Los Angeles in the Fall of 2011 to work...
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