Cell phones, free downloads, and audience participation are not always associated with Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre (ARDT), but Assistant Professor and choreographer Rebecca Salzer is looking to change that. Her piece “The Flow of Boats” specifically asks audience members to take out cell phones and play the original music composed by Amir Zaher. Audience members are encouraged to download the free music as they are in the auditorium and play it aloud for the entirety of the dance number. Breaking the barrier between audience and performers is a trend in the performing arts as more companies struggle to increase patronage. This interactive experience is a welcome change for attendees who have panic attacks just thinking about not checking their phone for an hour. As part of an educational institution, a lot of the ARDT attendance comes from students, making it a great place to experiment with changes like this one. In the early 2000’s, cell phones were being banned from professional theatres, but as more places find this ostracized audiences, cell phones are being embraced.
For other more traditional audience members, however, incorporating cell phones could be more of an inconvenience than anything. As with any change or new technology, the effectiveness and practicality are always questioned. Morgan Auditorium holds upwards of 600 people, and if even half the audience decides to participate in downloading the music, there could be technical difficulties. Salzer is trying to think of all the possible problems that could come up, and create solutions or backup plans to make this experience as positive for audiences as it is for performers. This is the first time The University of Alabama has had a piece incorporate so much technology and the members of the dance department are excited about exploring similar opportunities.
“The Flow of Boats” comes at the beginning of the second act of this dance concert. As is customary with ARDT, the pieces book-ending this progressive dance, are extremely varied in style and all choreographed by UA dance faculty. ARDT runs February 23rd through the 25th at 7:30 p.m., the 26th at 5:30 p.m. and the 27th at 2:00 p.m..
Tickets are $14 for UA students, $17 for UA faculty and staff and seniors, and $20 for adults. Tickets are available in Rowand-Johnson Hall at the ticket office in the front lobby, by phone at (205) 348-3400 or online at ua.tix.com.
For a full performance and event calendar, more information, and to sign up for a free event newsletter, visit dance.ua.edu.
About UA Theatre & Dance
The University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance (UA Theatre & Dance) became a unified department in 1979. For the past 34 years, UA Theatre & Dance has produced student and faculty- directed, performed and designed work. UA Theatre & Dance cultivates the next generation of performing arts professionals through comprehensive undergraduate and graduate degree programs.