Visitors to the Ludington North Breakwater Light on Friday evening Aug. 1 may encounter more than the beauty of the lake and the light.
Momentum Sensorium, a Chicago based Site-Specific Dance Company led by Helen Lee, will perform Aug. 1 starting at 7 p.m. at the Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse and will include two dancers who will begin at the end of the pier and conclude inside the tower.
Lighthouse visitors may experience the Momentum Sensorium performance as they climb the tower anytime between 7-8:30 p.m. This will be a rare and unique way to experience a lighthouse visit, according to the Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association which is sponsoring this “Night at the Light” performance.
“As people visit the lighthouse, they will experience the dance work as they are walking down the pier to the lighthouse as we will be moving through the space down the pier with specific movement motifs/vignettes,” Lee said. “This will last about 20-30 minutes. Once in front to the lighthouse, there will be more choreographed movements for about 15 to 20 minutes. And finally, the section inside will last 40 to 45 minutes. The dancer and I will be inside on different levels of the breakwater as a moving element that compliments the interior of breakwater.
“Viewers make their own decisions on how they would like to experience the piece. Maybe that is just walking by and being at breakwater for 15 minutes. Some viewers may choose to only experience a section of the dance work. Others may stop and watch or even follow.”
Lee has performed solo works at Little Sable Point Lighthouse in 2011, Big Sable Point Lighthouse in 2012 and White River Light station in 2013.
Lee is returning for a fourth summer with another dancer at Ludington North Breakwater.
This will be Lee’s first time performing through that space, she said.
“There are no rehearsals in the space, no dress or tech rehearsals,” Lee told the Daily News. “I do a lot of preparation beforehand in my brain. Performing for the first time ever in the space, I have to really trust myself in what may happen. This might be scary for some performers and it definitely can be but I think of performing this way similar to living life. You have a plan but sometimes that plan may or may not happen. Those unexpected occurrences can either be a delightful surprise or a disappointment. It’s how you handle these unexpectancies I am curious about investigating not only in my dancing but in living my life too.”
“While performing, the ‘not knowing’ what will happen is exciting, the surprises can be beautiful,” she said. “When I wished I did something differently or longer I usually cannot go back to it because it may not serve the dance work in the best way in that current moment so I do the best I can do resolve it and move on to the next thing.”
She said she tries to take the same approach with life, and that doing so isn’t always easy, but it does get easier with practice.
“Each outdoor venue that I’ve created a dancer for has been a different process. It is especially different depending on if I am working solo or with others,” Lee said. “In the past with the other three lighthouses, first I visit the lighthouse ahead of time if I haven’t already seen it. I take photos and video footage. I notice how I feel in the space, what sensations I feel/experience. I try to absorb some of the history of the specific lighthouse. I make a sketch in my head about what my movement pathway would be utilizing the space in and around the lighthouse."
Just as every picture has a story, so do these lights, she said.
“Each lighthouse has a different story, a different personality. I consider this as I am thinking and creating the piece. For example, Little Sable no longer has a house attached to it which is a bit sad. I thought of shipwrecks and lonely, lost lullabies as I traveled from the gallery down into the water. White River, is charming, haunted, romantic filled with many past nights of love, meals and laughter...I used old vintage photos of couples, squished lemons and limes.
“I hope the viewers at breakwater will feel a sense of curiosity, wonderment and possibly strangeness, happiness or beauty.
“I think of breakwater as stark and proud. I think of what is it to be an American, an American in Michigan surrounded by so much beauty of the lake. A lake that both Illinois and Michigan can experience. It’s beauty. Yes, I think of red, white and blue as an American and being proud but rather I am thinking what are the feeling that go with being American and the joy of living in America, the simple beauty of sunshine on your face and the possibilities that are available to us and detailing the depth of an emotion such as love, excitement or seeking down to the fibers of a nerve ending or ventricles of the heart.
Why dance in a public place such as a lighthouse?
“People don’t expect to see a dance performance in a non-traditional space other than a theater,” Lee said. “There is pleasure, joy, possibly disappointment in seeing a performance..
“I want to bring this into everyday life, in spaces that are wondrous and beautiful. For the lighthouses specifically, I feel it is important to educate people on lighthouses, to bring awareness of lighthouses to people. I am proud to be a part of sharing the beauty of lighthouses and the preservation of lighthouses.
If someone has visited a lighthouse, they may not want to visit again but having a performance in the space may inspire and motivate new and returning visitors to remember/experience the lighthouse in a unique and special way. “
See for yourself on Aug. 1 beginning at 7 p.m.
For more of the story, see Monday's Ludington Daily News.