Guest Contributor Emily Wanserski shares with us some information about Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre's new work - The Groundskeepers.
“She said ‘its yours!!!’”
Whenever I hear Heidi say – well, exclaim really, typically with excited hand motions that frequently look like choreography – sentences like that, I know we just secured a site for a new project. And, I know she’s serious.
Fast forward through email introductions, negotiations, and countless “I have another idea about our new performance” conversations – Heidi and I stepped out of her car in the space parking lot on July 24th for our second look at Linda Vista Hospital. My first time at the site, but not my first time touring a hospital with Heidi, I immediately regretted wearing my new cute wedges. Yet upon entering the building, I promptly forgot about them and was instantaneously captivated by the complex identity of the building. The site manager Francis, who knows more about the building than I know about my apartment, accompanied us on Heidi’s anticipated audience pathway and answered questions such as “does that plug in the corner work?” and “where does this hallway end?” As we continued to walk and uncover answers to these inquiries, I became increasingly intrigued by the story of Linda Vista Hospital.
A working hospital until 1991, Linda Vista has been predominately used as a location for TV and film productions including the pilot episode of ER (1994) andPearl Harbor (2001). Production companies move into their rented area of the building, construct their sets, and load out – frequently leaving behind props, ceiling joists, and fake bloodstains. The juxtaposition of Hollywood’s presence against leftover paperwork from the days of hospital operation makes this building a truly Los Angeles place, where you cannot really tell where reality ends and the film industry begins.
An LA-resident since the early 1980s, Heidi is far beyond familiar with locations of this nature. From the Ambassador Hotel to our City Hall downtown, she has spent hours finding those working plugs in unexpected locations. For this particular project she recently told me that she feels like the artistic team “shares the halls with music video and film zombies, yet live dance seems like the scariest notion of all for everyone we’re sharing the space with is in film.” The building is unaccustomed to dance, yet well acquainted with creativity, thus providing an incredible base of information for Heidi to draw from while choreographing and directing The Groundskeepers. Molly Myers, a dancer working with Heidi for the first time on this project, told me that she is particularly stimulated by how “creating movement using the shapes, sounds, and energy of the hospital’s architecture” has proven not only inspiring, but also challenging.
We’re avoiding a Halloween opening night, but very much looking forward to welcoming the public into Linda Vista’s first – and only, for the site is to become affordable housing later this year – live dance performance. It’s your last chance to walk the