This weekend the Salt Lake Art Center will experience a unique art exhibit, a 48 hour nonstop dance performance called Dark Horses/Fallen Shadows. Dancers and audience participants will slow dance across the gallery floor to lighting and sound designs directed by the exhibit’s creator, Gary Vlasic.
“I’m opening it up to the general public, especially during the days.” Vlasic said. “During the days I’m just hoping that people will just drop in and be part of this.”
Those who would like to participate need to bring a partner and must dance in silence. “There’s a lot of leeway as to how they want to dance with each other, but there’s a lot of concentration on being with each other and being in the moment.”
All are welcome. Those who would like may come and observe, but Vlasic said, “if people decide they want to be part of it they can dance for an hour, or 10 hours, however long they’d like. “
Vlasic and his co-choreographer, Todd Allen, have spent months preparing to transform the 5500 sq ft gallery space into Dark Horses/Fallen Shadows. The space will be in constant motion for the full 48 hours, with choreography weaved into parts of the performance. Sound, lighting, and props will also help to complete the ambience.
“The overall sense of the space will be very much a world in and of itself. Some of the visuals are going to take on a very theatrical feel.” Vlasic said. “The idea is that the space is activated by couples in slow, thoughtful, meditative silence, slow dancing together. At 9 pm on the first two days the piece will culminate into a more choreographed section that will involve 8 professional dancers and then a core of about twenty more dancers.”
Dark Horses/Fallen Shadows was inspired by the early book and film “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” both were based on the dance competitions during the Great Depression.
“The dance hall marathons that went on at that time which were kind of a brutal sad way.” Vlasic said.
The competitors would dance on their feet for thousands of hours.
“Sometimes it would go as long as 4 months, until people would literally collapse or die from exhaustion,” Vlasic described. “There was this outer layer of people watching and cheering and would pick their favorite couples. I thought as I was watching reality TV these days it doesn’t seem anything has really changed that much.”
Vlasic and his co-chorographer, Todd Allen, both got their start in the Salt Lake dance scene and now live in New York. Allen started with the children’s theater with Virginia Tanner. Allen danced in Salt Lake for 8 years before moving to New York to get his masters degree from NYU. Vlasic has produced and choreographed several commissions for the Utah Arts Festival, as well as several of his own productions. Vlasic has also established Working Class Productions in 2002—a design and production company that specializes in events, creative consultation and art production.
Dark Horses/Fallen Shadows opens at 6 pm on September 24 and closes at 6 pm on September 26 at Salt Lake Art Center (20 S. West Temple). The gallery will be open around the clock with main performances taking place at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.