+ Building from the ground up
The world premiere of “Noah Racey’s Pulse” is taking place May 23, at Asolo Repertory Theatre — it’s a production Asolo Rep has been trying to get on the books for two years. If the dance musical production gets picked up nationally, that could also mean the set, which was built at the Koski Center’s Joan Armour Mendell Scenic Shop, will also travel nationally.
Set and costume designer Tobin Ost, who’s based in New York, but has traveled here frequently to work on the production, talked about building the set. It’s a dance musical heavily influenced by tap dance, so the floor is a very important element.
“We cease to think of it as a standard floor, and are thinking of it now as an instrument that needs to be tuned,” Ost says.
The dancers traveled to Sarasota Jan. 26, to test five different 5-foot by 5-foot squares of wood. They settled on a white pine variety, but then also tested the finishes (from wax to polyurethane), what to layer the pine on top of, different grains of sandpaper, etc. Because it not only has to look good, it has to sound great, and it also has to be functional for the dancers who want it slippery when they have to slide, but grabable when they aren’t sliding.
“Where we land will be interesting,” Ost says.
So far, they’ve settled on the layer of pine, with a plywood substrate that’s lifted over a hollow cavity to give the floor the proper sound and proper bounce for the dancers. And as of May 13, it’s still being tested, sanded and improved — they’ve spent more than half-a-year of perfecting the floor.
The Observer’s video series, Patron Saints, features the “saints” of Sarasota who financially support area performing-arts organizations. These people make Sarasota the arts city it is. This week’s spotlighted venue is Asolo Repertory Theatre and the patron is Joan Armour Mendell.
Joan Armour Mendell donated Asolo Repertory Theatre’s scenic shop inside of the Koski Center, which gave the theater greater capability and space for building scenery; and it created more revenue for the organization because other national theaters and local arts organizations outsource their set building to Asolo Rep.
Mendell thinks arts are important because they enrich people. As a little girl she was taught to give her money and share. “No matter what you have, you have to give a little bit of what you have,” she says. But Mendell does a better job telling the story in the video online at YourObserver.com (Click the Black Tie tab).
‘Rhapsody, Rhythm and Romance’: This production will be the third annual collaboration among members of Jazz Juvenocracy and Fuzión Dance Artists. It takes place at 8 p.m. Friday, May 17, 18, 24 and 25, at The Glenridge Performing Arts Center, 7333 Scotland Way. Tickets are $20. Call 552-5325 for more information.
See photos from the dress rehearsal in an online exclusive at YourObserver.com.
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