On Saturday afternoon the Yard dance residency program hosted a performance at Mytoi Garden on Chappaquiddick. The performance was a collaboration between the Yard and The Trustees of Reservations and featured modern improvisational dance by members of Dance The Yard and What’s Written Within, another Island dance group.
Rather than performing in a single location, the dancers used the entirety of the Japanese garden as their stage. As visitors wandered through the garden, enjoying the cool breeze and warm sunshine, dancers moved gracefully on and around Mytoi’s natural features. There was no music — that was the point. According to Jesse Keller, the Yard’s co-producer, the dancers drew inspiration from the garden’s environment. Before beginning in a new location within the garden, the dancers briefly discussed with the audience the primary influences that would drive the performance. Major influences on Saturday were the sunshine, the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves and the smell of the flowers, Ms. Keller said.
Visitors to the garden were pleasantly surprised. Roberta Heiman of Evansville, Ind., had never seen a performance like this one before. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it’d be beautiful,” she said.
The dancers did face some unexpected challenges, though. For example, the garden features a small shelter where visitors stopped to rest in the shade and enjoy the performance. Ms. Keller said that she and the dancers were planning to use the shelter as another feature in their dances but had to work around the visitors. She compared the dancers’ ability to work with their surroundings to that of jazz musicians.
“Musicians get together and just play their instruments,” Ms. Keller said. “That’s what we do, but with our bodies.”
Ms. Keller worked with Molly Peach, Islands region educator for the Trustees, to organize the event. Ms. Peach first approached Ms. Keller to brainstorm ideas to attract more of the public to the Trustees’ many Island properties.
“Mytoi is kind of unique on the Island,” Ms. Peach said. “It’s great that we can draw more people out here.”