Saturday, July 28, 2012

Preparation: setting the dance floor / kunstLABor

Dance rehearsals are about to begin in earnest in the kunstLABor now, and that means it is time to roll out the dance floor.  Let me tell you – this is an exercise in extreme patience and teamwork!
While Fernando sweeps and mops up the clay that covers the floor after the last few days of artistic experiments (more about that later), Carlos and I, with much grunting and groaning, transport two heavy rolls of Marley from our storage unit to kunstLABor.  This special rubber-like substance provides dancers with the necessary balance of traction and glide for ease and safety on the dance floor.
We can lay the Marley either a black or a white surface up, and after a bit of philosophical discussion – nothing can happen among contemporary dancers without a bit of philosophical discussion – about the quality of light and energy and aesthetic of the different colors, Carlos decides for black:  white will look dirty, and black matches the empty frames hanging on the walls from the last exhibit.
This means we must unroll, flip and reroll one mass of Marley so the black will face up.  Sound simple?  It is true that giving the roll a good shove with our feet and watching the flooring stretch across an open room brings a sensation of childish satisfaction, but rerolling the stuff can be quite frustrating.  The edges must be perfectly even to prevent any warping, which requires two people placing equal weight on each side of the sturdy cardboard tube, moving very slowly forward to wrap the Marley around it one centimeter at a time, and occasionally lifting the heavy thing or tugging it to keep the correct tension.  On a good day, we achieve the desired result on the third try.  Today is not a good day.
Next, AKS arranges four long strips of foam on the floor; these act as a little cushion and insulation between the dancers’ feet and the cold, hard linoleum-covered cement floor.  This foam covers just a bit more surface, both in length and width, than the Marley will.  Aligning the edges so they barely touch without overlapping, and taping them in place firmly enough that they will stay in place stay but loosely enough that the material can adjust when the Marley rolls over it is trickier than it seems like it should be.
After this, it takes a team of four to lay the dance floor over the foam:  Carlos and I on either end of the Marley roll, slowly pushing it out, making sure the edge stay even with the outside edge of the foam, and AKS and Fernando crawling backwards ahead of and facing the Marley, pressing air beneath the foam toward the outer edges and smoothing the strips into alignment with open palms.  Concentration is key, as looking away even for a moment can allow a tiny gap to develop between the two foam strips, meaning we need to re-roll a meter or so of Marley and try again.  And of course, once the first roll is finally down we get to do it again with the second.
A communal exhale sounds as we finally made it to the end.  Now we can leave the Marley alone to breathe overnight, and tomorrow it is just a matter of taping the seams closed and taping the edges to the floor.  Then let the rehearsals begin!