Dancing Up Close to Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects
Jody Oberfelder’s 4Chambers
Director/Choreographer: Jody Oberfelder
Performers: Zachary Denison, Michele Jongeneel, Joey Kipp, Mary Madsen, Mercedes Searer, Jake Szczypek.
Tara Sheena for The Dance Enthusiast
Jody Oberfelder and her company of six dancers have taken up residence on Governor’s Island and transformed Officer’s House 15, a single-family home in Nolan Park, into a site for an immersive performance experience.
In 4Chambers, a 60-minute site-specific installation, an audience of no more than twelve is ushered through various rooms meant to resemble veins and arteries coursing through the circulatory system. Each room functions as a different “chamber,” with four in all: visual, physical, synapse, pulsing. Oberfelder also worked with video artists, Jason Bahling and Jake Witlen, to expand the idea of how the heart functions across varied performance contexts. The video work consists of interviews with other “performers” like cardiologist Dr. Wendy Suzuki and choreographer Ishmael Houston-Jones, speaking about his recent heart attack.
A recent trip to documenta, a contemporary art festival that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany, inspired Oberfelder. At the festival, she saw an installation that took place in a house and credited that as the initial impetus to divorce 4Chambers from the proscenium.
“It’s not just movement. There are other strands,” Oberfelder said in a rehearsal at the site in early July. “It’s about how we are going to give the audience their own experience.”
In 4Chambers audience members are expected to react and participate. Whether that means engaging in short duets with the performers or strapping on blood-pressure finger monitors, they share. “It’s a little bit about being a hero in your own body,“ Oberfelder notes. “Life is pretty heroic and when your heart stops, it’s over. Taking everybody through the relationship to their own life is the goal.”
4Chambers runs every Saturday and Sunday through July 21 at 11:30am, 1pm, 2:30pm, 4pm, and 5:30pm at Officer House 15, Governor’s Island.
For reservations to the free performances, email Mercedes@jodyoberfelder.com. For more information, visit www.jodyoberfelder.com