To hear Benjamin Wegman tell it, he and Sarah Levitt started their new dance piece, which premieres tonight on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, pretty impulsively. “We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we put a hammock onstage?’”
But it turns out that the piece, titled Hammock, is a little more involved than that. It didn’t just come out of the blue. As dancers with the Takoma Park-based Dance Exchange, Wegman and Levitt had been on the go for months at a time, moving around the country in residencies and performances with the company. “We both have lived a life in the last couple of years of a lot of touring and traveling,” explains Wegman. “There’s a lot of pros to it, but for 32 weeks out of the year, it gets really hard on your body, really grueling.”
No wonder the two were pondering concepts of rest and restlessness, of being in the moment versus being on the go—all of which, they say, shows up in the piece. Don’t expect kinesthetic pyrotechnics; Hammock, according to its choreographers, is more about putting a lens on the human body and the space it inhabits.
But that hammock—the one that inspired the piece—will be onstage too, in a tangible, non-metaphorical way. Audience members who arrive to the theater early will treated to a short, site-specific installation piece as Levitt and Wegman assemble their prop.
Hammock kicks off the Kennedy Center’s three Local Dance Commissioning Project performances this fall. The program, which is the KenCen’s tip of the hat to the local dance community, provides recipients with $7,500 stipend, a forum for critical feedback, and produced performances at Dance Place and Baltimore’s Theatre Project, as well as on the Millennium Stage.
Tonight and tomorrow night at 6pm on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Free.
Photo by Emily Macel Theys