Park Avenue Armory announced the dates for the world premiere of SOCIAL! the social distance dance club, a new interactive and experiential movement piece commissioned by the Armory as part of its Social Distance Hall, its recently announced series of commissions of dance, music, and theater created by artists during and in response to the pandemic. Conceived by Christine Jones, renowned set designer for Spring Awakening, American Idiot, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Steven Hoggett, choreographer and movement director for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and multimedia artist and musician David Byrne (Talking Heads, David Byrne’s American Utopia on stage and film and Reasons to Be Cheerful), SOCIAL! will run through April 22. Show times during the week will be at 7pm and at 12pm, 4pm, and 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays. With a playlist curated by Byrne, Hoggett, and Jones and mixed by New York City DJ Natasha Diggs, SOCIAL! invites participants to the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall to dance in their own socially distanced spotlights, all the while listening to a wonderfully singular instructional voice over by David Byrne with choreography by Yasmine Lee. Moving free-form or in sync with the spoken choreography (or not), audience members take part in a communal moment of cathartic release.
SOCIAL! is part of the Armory’s Social Distance Hall commissioning initiative, which provides artists with the space and resources to create and present to in-person audiences new works devised for and reflective of a society grappling with COVID-19. The Armory, with its immense, 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall and multiple airy rooms and entrances—featuring an air volume comparable to being outdoors—can provide an early pathway and model for the re-opening of the performing arts in New York and beyond.
Rigorous safety protocols for audiences that extend from arrival, entry, and seating to performance and departure have been developed, workshopped, and tested with invited audiences. Among these safety procedures are: masks worn properly at all times; a detailed and monitored system of audience flow to ensure artists, patrons, and staff are socially distanced at all times throughout their visit; contactless temperature-checks and ticket scanning outside at the door; no points of gathering in the building or on the sidewalk; no retail concessions, food and beverages, or ticket sales; restroom use limited to one person at a time, with cleaning between each use; and refreshing of the Drill Hall air three times pre-show and post show. Rapid Testing will be conducted on-site at the Armory.
“The Armory’s commitment to supporting and partnering with artists in the creation of new works that are responsive to society is a foundational component of who we are as an organization. The commissioned work that is part of Social Distance Hall exists, not despite of, but because of the pandemic that we have all been living through over the last year,” said Rebecca Robertson, Founding President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. “With SOCIAL!, we are delighted to invite New Yorkers to come together through a communal, safe, and multisensory experience that draws on the building’s acoustics and grand architecture, and the Armory’s cross-disciplinary programming mission.”
SOCIAL! invites 100 participants – 10% of the Drill Hall’s normal capacity – to the Armory’s Drill Hall for a socially distanced dance club, where each member will have a six-foot diameter circle in which to dance and move, spaced out from surrounding circles to provide proper social distancing at all times. The distance between the circles north to south is twelve feet. Going east to west the distance between the circles alternates between fifteen feet and twelve feet. The curated playlist will include a taped overlay of spoken movement directions narrated by Byrne. Participants at all levels of experience can move freely or choose to follow David Byrne’s magical suggestions. A video of Byrne teaching choreography for a song on the playlist will be sent in advance to all participants, so the entire group can move in unison. Ultimately, SOCIAL! aims to provide a powerful healing moment that can be experienced individually and communally.
If health conditions and governmental regulations do not permit the re-opening of the Armory on the dates noted below, the performances will be canceled, all tickets will be immediately refunded, and if possible, the performances will be rescheduled.