Theatre and Dance Company Collaborate on Annapolis Performances After Dark
By Cheryl Costello
At a time when live performances are hard to come by, Maryland Theatre for the Performing Arts and a local dance company are putting on a unique outdoor contemporary dance show in Annapolis.
Taking place after dark, “Still Standing” is a way for Orange Grove Dance performers to connect with audiences by following the light. Bay Weekly got a front seat view of the illuminating performance.
“We run. We emerge out of the darkness. We shine our lights on each other and we’re trying to connect from these distances that we didn’t always have to do as dancers. We used to be able to be much closer to each other,” says Orange Grove Dance Artistic Director Matt Reeves.
The show incorporates more than 170 light displays at MTPA’s Park Place outdoor space, near the Annapolis National Cemetery. It’s the first live performance for many of the dancers since March. The artistic directors, Reeves and his wife Colette Krogol, built the performance around the venue, which can seat 50 people even with social distancing in effect.
“We’re hoping that ‘Still Standing’ can be something that audiences or people who hear it can find some sort of connection with in terms of the hopeful nature of this time right now, where we’re in the middle of a pandemic and there’s so much distance in between us and divide and the idea of how as a community can we come together,” Krogol tells CBM Bay Weekly.
The performing groups also have an eye on future goals. The outdoor space where the performances are held may be home to a future performing arts center. MTPA is a non-profit with a mission to raise more than $70 million to build a cultural and conference center in the open space.
“We are imagining a new performing arts building that is for all of the arts groups here in Annapolis, as well as traveling and international performances. It’s a 1,200-seat main stage theater. We call it a flexible theatre, meaning the seats drop into the floor and it opens up so you can use it for a conference, a trade show and any type of performance you can imagine,” says MTPA Executive Director Mattie Fenton.
With enough money raised, construction on Phase One could begin next year. The first phase would bring a smaller space to start—350 seats and a veterans’ overlook.
“We’re one of nine state capitals in the United States that do not have a world class performing arts center. And we need that in Annapolis,” says MTPA Board Member Midgett Parker.
The “Still Standing” performance is a good start. On opening weekend, the performances were sold out. The unseasonably warm weather warmed many hearts. Audience member Kristen Kissik tells us, “With everything going on right now, oh my gosh, I could do a happy dance myself. My heart is overflowing and I’m so thrilled.”
Performers say it gave them a chance to connect again with a live audience.
“Coming up over the hill and seeing the audience, we felt a connection right there. Even though we were far apart, we know we all had come together for the same reason,” Reeves says.
When performances wrap up this weekend, there are more chances to check out other shows in the outdoor venue, with a calendar of events that extends through next year. This weekend’s performances are Nov. 13 & 14, 6pm & 7:30pm. Tickets: https://www.mtpa-annapolis.org/performances/.