I was going to post this last week before sudden events turned the city—and our newsroom—upside-down. Better late than etc.
Remember the tempest surrounding Spectrum Dance Theater and Storefronts Seattle after Spectrum's public performance of The Miraculous Mandarin in the International District?
Last week, Andy Fife of Shunpike announced that the organizations had kissed and made up (at least publicly). They announced they would work together to find another venue to present The Miraculous Mandarin, a short Bela Bartok ballet about crime and tragedy that has a history of censorship, at some unnamed date in the future.
The full press release is below the jump.
Storefronts Seattle and Spectrum Dance Theater Announce THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN will return this fall!
SEATTLE – Spectrum Dance Theater Company and Storefronts Seattle are pleased to announce plans to re-mount the recently closed production of THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN later this year as a part of the opening of Spectrum’s 2012 – 2013 season. Additional details regarding the venue and dates will be announced later this year.
THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN is Spectrum’s production of a Bela Bartok ballet originally slated for presentation May 17–26 in the windows of the historic Bush Hotel overlooking Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown - International District Neighborhood. With Spectrum’s hallmark of provocative imagery and skilled choreography, it explores issues very relevant to the neighborhood and location, including prostitution, violence and drug use.
“Locating the performances of The Miraculous Mandarin in the windows overlooking Hing Hay Park made me aware of the shadow community of drug dealers, drug addicts and sex workers that are very real stakeholders in the park but are rarely acknowledged. The images and themes of Mandarin mirror this shadow community and speak to it in ways that are real and authentic,” said Donald Byrd, Artistic Director for Spectrum, “Mandarin holds a mirror up to the other ‘legitimate’ communities of the area and asks them to address who really ‘owns’ the park and other such public spaces. This fall, we hope to locate Mandarin in a similar environment, providing more opportunity for community-wide dialogue around these issues.”
The production was unfortunately cancelled after the first performance due to concerns about public access to imagery and content inappropriate for immature audiences. The cancellation was sudden and sparked concern and conversation about the public nature of the production, its closure and the responsibility of the partners. Presentation in this unconventional performance venue was originally facilitated as a part of the Storefronts Seattle program, which works to activate vacant or empty retail spaces with temporary arts installations and pop-up arts-based retail businesses.
For the past 18 months, Storefronts has been programming arts installations throughout the city, including the Bush Hotel. The work at this venue and elsewhere in Chinatown-International District has been realized through partnership with several community partners, including the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), who own and operate the Bush Hotel building.
“We regret that the production could not go on as planned, but look forward to supporting our partners finding an appropriate space,” said Maiko Winkler-Chin, SCIDpda Executive Director. “Although I saw the production and found it thought-provoking, it is hard to present a public production appropriate for mature audiences when un-consenting community members, including the 70 children living nearby, may witness the work as they go about their evening.”
Storefronts is pleased to continue working with Spectrum to bring THE MIRACULOUS MANDARIN back to the public again this year under better circumstances. While the details of the presentation are still developing, Storefronts is committed to helping Spectrum find a location that will both limit viewership by immature audiences, while also retaining the important site-specific nature of the production.
"Storefronts is excited to see the themes of MANDARIN explored publicly," said Storefronts Program Manager Matthew Richter. "Byrd's choreography directly engages and portrays the literal reality of the streets for which it is created, which is exactly what Storefronts seeks to do. We look forward to finding an appropriately-controlled setting for its ultimate presentation."