On the Record
by Jeffrey Harmatz
Feb 24, 2009 | 22889 views | 0 0 comments | 834 834 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Composed of three artists working in different mediums, Seen Performance is an Astoria-based art collective that is seeking to bring innovative performance to unusual locations throughout Western Queens.

Of the three founding members, Esther Palmer is a choreographer, Shana McKay Burns is a set designer, and David Morneau is a composer, and they collaborate to create unusual, esoteric, and offbeat performances that utilize innovative techniques to engage both their audience and their performance space.

“We were all graduate students in Ohio looking to take on new artistic challenges,” said Palmer, as to why her group came together in New York City. The performance group was more directly inspired by Palmer’s experience living in Astoria. “We wanted to have more local performance in Astoria, and give something back to the community.”

Their performances, which have occurred formally on stage and erupted at a crowded party, are interdisciplinary, and the three members take turns leading shows that utilize dance, music, architecture, and clothing. The group is currently working with several dancers to fulfill their larger-scale ambitions.

Palmer describes a project the group is currently working on, titled “These Walls Sing,” as one that will “choreograph the audience through a space and experience a musical composition through space rather than time.” In other performances, the group has challenged the notion of performance space by having the audience hold hands around them and form a stage.

Another performance, set to be “staged” at Socrates Sculpture Park this summer, will explore the ways in which identity is defined through aspects of clothing.

Seen Performance is celebrating their first anniversary as a group, and will be holding a dinner and performance celebration on March 10 at Astoria’s Rest Au Rant. At the event, Palmer hopes to not only share new performances with the group’s friends and supporters, but recruit new local talent as well.

“We’d love to expand our collective to include visual and digital elements to our work,” she said. (Jeffrey Harmatz)

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