Greenpoint Gazette

Arts in Bushwick: SITE Fest

BY Ashley Bressler

Art was alive in Brooklyn last weekend as Arts in Bushwick celebrated local music, dance and theatre performances through out the city as part of the second annual SITE Fest.

The festival featured three hub spaces grouped in dance and movement performances, duration-based and interactive performances, and theater and short-form performances. In addition to the main locations, SITE Fest brought arts enthusiasts into the streets, apartments and studios where some of Brooklyn’s most talented work is produced.

SITE Fest is just one of the three annual festivals sponsored by Arts in Bushwick, a volunteer run organization that encourages and engages the various art forms in Bushwick and strives to make public forums accessible to the community.

Lee Mandell, SITE Fest co-lead and technical manager, said the weekend was successful at providing a free performance venue for artists both local and from around the country.

“It was just an open call for all artists, first come, first server,” said Mandell.

After two days full of unique events, one last series of dance performances brought the festival to a close Sunday night at the Chez Bushwick dance studio at 304 Boerum St. The final event featured three acts were all provocative and eccentric, yet individually complicated.

About 30 people crowded into the dark dance studio as the Yvonne Ng, Juan Michael Porter II, Meiko Mitsuda and Yasuhiko Fukuoka took the stage to perform a symbolic journey of the pressures to conform in ordinary daily life. Porter, the dancer, wore a cloak of white plastic masks, which he struggled to break free from through out the performance.

The pre-recorded music and live keyboard served as emotional cues, which guided the audience through the dancer’s dramatic climax, somber plummets and final acceptance.

Jennifer Tillman of Boston who celebrated her 25th birthday by watching the last show of the SITE Fest dance performance said she enjoyed the performance’s use of self-reflection through life’s mundane activities.

“I enjoyed the whole thing, I’m really enthusiastic about the arts and you’d be hard pressed to find something like this in Boston,” said Tillman.

Mandell said the artists were not judged or selected based on quality or concept. The only qualifications for entering the festival were based on the technical capabilities for each performance.

“No one gets rejected. We were able to fit everyone who applied,” said Mandell.

Layla Marcelle Mrozowski and Launch Movement performances were also featured at the event, which ranged from slow erotic flashlight movements to robotic nude body suit dancers with double sided mirrors strapped to their chests.

John Facko of Williamsbugh who attended several SITE Fest events through out the weekend, said he came to the event to experience art in general and he was impressed by the creativity of the performers.

“They were all really good. I really appreciated the music, but it was a little scary at the end,” Facko said. “It seemed like there was a collective theme which was cool. The artist community here rocks.”

Mandell said he is always pleasantly surprised at how many people attend the performances, adding that Arts in Bushwick plans to hold the festival again next year.

“The whole weekend was wildly successful, more than I expected,” said Mandell.

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