MSJC’s Menifee Dance Company to Present Surveillance Art

Part dance concert and part performance art, Mt. San Jacinto College will be working with contemporary media technologies (surveillance cameras) to produce innovative and thought-provoking dance performances throughout the college district.

Who is the intended audience for such an event? The ‘invisible’ person who is supposedly watching the surveillance tape is the beneficiary of this not-so-private performance. Of course, passersby will also be able to view the performance (a second layer of audience) between the observer and the observed.

Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, the phenomenal growth of cell phone usage, the increased capabilities of GPS tracking, and the worldwide internet, a new wave of American surveillance of the citizen body has become omni-present. Being ‘watched’ throughout our daily goings on is as common as a swipe of a discount card at your local grocery store.

Of course, the camera is much more ubiquitous in urban centers and large cities, but even in the Inland Empire, the citizenry stars in its own filmed production, daily. With new surveillance cameras installed this year on both campuses of MSJC, the Menifee Dance Company has taken this opportunity to perform for this captive audience in what is known as surveillance art.

Calling themselves the “Surveillance Camera Dancers,” they just may be the first dance company to take on what theatre companies have been exploring since 1996. The Surveillance Camera Players (SCP), based in New York City, founded by Bill Brown, are one of the main innovators of this art form. The SCP has a wide following around the world and has inspired sister groups in Arizona, California, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, and Turkey.

The exploration goes back even further than that, with Andy Warhol’s “Outer and Inner Space” (1965). This important work first introduced the performance art possibilities of high- tech surveillance to the modern world.

Dancers from the MSJC Menifee Dance Department--José Cordero, Melody Davis, Ferlene Fuentes, Shamika Giles, Ricardo Lopez, Rebecca Maskell, and Cynthia Montoya--will participate in this exploration of surveillance art throughout the remainder of the spring semester. Three student choreographers were chosen to contribute original work to the production--José Cordero, Melody Davis, and Ricardo Lopez.

The Menifee Dance Company will begin their seven-week tour throughout the Mt. San Jacinto College District on April 1, 2011. Their first performances will be on the Menifee Campus (LaPiedra Drive), from 10:30 AM - 12:30PM, with performances beginning every half- hour. Four performances are planned that day, in front of surveillance cameras throughout the campus. Human audiences are also encouraged to attend […]

(Written by Lori Craig Torok, Temecula Performing Arts Examiner, and published March 28, 2011 by the Examiner.)

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