SHADOW DANCING is inspired by a series of unique photographs by award winning multi disciplinary artist FRANC PALAIA, based on an historic series of urban wall paintings by world renowned and street artist pioneer, Richard Hambleton. The photo series entitled, NightLife, is a collection of color photographs taken by Palaia in New York City from 1981-87. The black shadow wall paintings depict standing, posing and jumping life sized human figures that appeared throughout NYC and the world, a total of 400 or 500 in total.
In the early 1980s, these ominous black shadow figures caused a sensation of fear, mystery, anxiety and un-ease throughout NYC and worldwide
Shadow Dancing is an animated version of the NightLife photographs. The performance includes four dancers, dressed in black and moving and posing, simulating the shadow paintings but animated accompanied by live music performed by Nate Jackson (Nick’s twin brother) on keyboards and artist Franc Palaia on drums and percussion.
The dancers move behind a large 10’x40’ translucent scrim which is illuminated from behind, and in turn makes the dancers appear only in shadow. The performers pose, dance, twirl and jump according to the musical beat. The musical beats include Hip Hop, Fusion, Afro, ethereal and Funk. A variety of props help to enhance the animated dancers which include wings, headwear, swords, sparklers and rope. The dancers perform individually as well as in groups of two , three and four. The audience can follow along by identifying particular moves and poses that resemble the shadow figures in Palaia’s NightLife photo book.
My Goal with this project is to create a platform for Dance theater programming for the youth of Poughkeepsie. A combination of dance, music, and photography.
Funded by Poughkeepsie, NY (September 2023)