The Audience-in-Residence is a program intended to bring audiences and Anandam Dancetheatre closer to each other’s experience of live performance.
Initiated in 2014 with the generous support of the Metcalf Foundation’s Creative Strategies Incubator, the AiR has gathered people from a wide and varied spectrum of experience: some familiar and others unfamiliar with Anandam, dance or even the performing arts; many coming from the fields of visual arts, street arts, literature and critical writing, queer-engaged arts and culture, and the deaf and disability communities.
In its first incarnation, the AiR attended rehearsals, works-in-progress, and performances by Anandam Dancetheatre. The AiR’s insights helped creators and performers understand how audiences experienced the particular movement and time of our works; how they experienced interdisciplinarity, unconventional spaces, and the relationships between spectatorship, participation and performance. In 2014/15 and 2015/16, the AiR supported the development of Seismology, Weather, Glaciology, and Walking Spaces .
In 2016/17, with Anandam’s deepening engagement with curation, the AiR was re-imagined as a means to explore the relationship between dance and the dancing body to the ecology of our city, our country and our world at this moment. Together, participants attended performances, exhibits, installations, and lectures across Toronto, meeting periodically in salons to reflect upon their experiences in conversations and writing.
Watching and talking together has been very special. We found ourselves leaning and listening closer, staying in silence a little longer, sometimes a little awkwardly. What is it we were doing? Being present. Being true. Sitting with the discomfort of what we do not know, or want to unknow. The Audience In Residence is a study in trust, curiosity and intimacy, in the practice of being an audience member and in the cultivation of alternative discourse (which is absolutely different from alternative facts), of alternative modes of language, value and inquiry for audience and community engagement. In the words of member Kim Simon, the AiR is a practice of artists and audiences learning about others’ experience of the work; of holding and shifting our first judgement in relation to cultural knowledge; and at the sime time of affirming the multiplicity and complexity of our responses to performance: confusion, doubt, resistance, questioning, argumentation, love.
Through the AiR, Anandam Dancetheatre has had the privilege of meeting the audience as witness: seeing, listening, and making meaning with us in the moment, and in the collective remembrance of performance. This has profoundly affected us as a company.