A Short History on the Development of Voyeur from the Choreographers, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer
Hello! We are Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, the choreographers, performers, and Artistic Directors of Bridgman|Packer Dance. We have collaborated with each other in choreography and performance for more than 30 years and have developed our concept of “Video Partnering”, the integration of live performance and video technology. Our work has been presented by Lincoln Center, The Baryshnikov Arts Center, Dance Theater Workshop (now NYLA), Jacob’s Pillow, Japan’s Kintetsu Theater, Spoleto Festival USA, Bates Dance Festival, and Munich International Dance Festival among other venues. To learn more about our work: www.bridgmanpacker.org and Bridgman|Packer Dance on Facebook.
Our latest work, Voyeur, takes the paintings of Edward Hopper (1882‐1967) as its point of departure. We were drawn to his works where scenes are viewed through windows and doorways. At the heart of Voyeur is the seen or unseen viewer witnessing fragmented moments of private lives. We are looking at the roles of both the audience and the performers as voyeurs.
|Top: Edward Hopper's "Night Windows|
Bottom: from Bridgman Packer's "Voyeur,"
photo by Arthur Fink
To us, voyeurism is about point of view and perspective, where someone observes a private moment while being architecturally removed from the space they are viewing. Voyeurism is inherently locked into the formal nature of space and perspective, which Edward Hopper masterfully used to give his work an underlying emotional tone.
The development of our stage set was the breakthrough that allowed us to find this relationship of space and perspective. A multi‐surfaced structure, comprised of a series of hinged panels at various angles, is transformed through the use of video projections, evoking imagery of both spatial and psychological enclosures. A sense of depth is created with additional scenes projected on the wall behind the set. The audience views the live performers and the back scenes through the set’s windows and doorways.
Once we had created this set structure where the performers are placed physically inside the video projections and the audience’s view is influenced by the architecture, our choreographic process took off. Our concept of “video partnering”, where the live and the virtual have equal presence on stage, found new territory choreographically, thematically, and technologically.
We are not interested in recreating or staging Hopper’s paintings. For us, this work is about being immersed in his world of color, light, form, perspective, and the theme of voyeurism, which implies isolation, regret, ennui, and obstruction.
Voyeur had its inception in the community where we live in the New York Hudson Valley. Edward Hopper’s birthplace and childhood home is now the Edward Hopper House Arts Center (edwardhopperhouse.org) in Nyack, NY. The Hopper House became a co‐commissioner of Voyeur along with Portland Ovations (Portland, ME). During the summer of 2011, Portland Ovations offered us a creative residency that was instrumental in the development of the piece. It was an extremely fruitful week during which most of the footage used in the piece was filmed. It was all shot in natural light, so activity increased during the last hours before sunset, which our film collaborator Peter Bobrow calls the “magic hour”. Shadows become long and the color of light is nuanced, changing every minute. We raced from the Old Port, to the Custom House, to the West End, filming and chasing the perfect light.
In developing Voyeur, we had a fabulous creative team to work with: Filmmaker Peter Bobrow, Sound Designers Scott Lehrer and Leon Rothenberg, and Lighting Designer Frank DenDanto III.