Damian Smith, principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet, is one of ten “interveners” invited to create a response to works of art in the exhibition “Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected.” Smith’s visceral response is inspired by the painting “Grenholm” by the late Fred Spratt—and Smith’s own Aboriginal roots. The painting evoked memories of the colors, landscape, and visual language of Australia, where Smith was born and raised.
The result is a dance choreographed to incorporate shapes and symbols from the Aboriginal language and white body paint, suggesting the dance takes place in a spiritual portal, a realm between the living and the dead, where Smith and Spratt could connect. Dancing with shoes dipped in paint, the performance was captured on video as well as on multiple canvases, which serve as transient documentation of the movement of feet. Placed on the floor, they are seen by the viewer from the dancer’s perspective, they reflect the title of Smith’s intervention, “Arrellah”-- “the dancing ground.”
See Smith’s finished project, along with nine other “interventions” from the fields of comedy, poetry, cartooning, design, yarnbombing, and more, in “Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected” at the San Jose Museum of Art, October 2, 2014 – February 22, 2015.