If you happened to be strolling through Union Square recently and saw a group of people in street clothes suddenly break into dance you might have thought “flash mob.”
But what you were likely witnessing was choreographer Katie Faulkner’s little seismic dance company rehearsing “We Don’t Belong Here,” a movement and multimedia event that examines humans’ need to belong.
“All of us have some relationship to what it means to belong or not belong somewhere,” Faulkner says. “I think too, San Francisco is a city of refugees. It really attracts people who are looking for a place to belong.”
Presented as part of the Dancers Group ONSITE series, the piece, which will performed this week in Union Square, is the first venture into public art for Faulkner, who already has racked up an impressive array of accolades and prizes including top honors at this year’s ODC AWARD festival.
Michael Trigilio, an internationally acclaimed multimedia artist and professor at University of California, San Diego, contributes the visuals and sound design.
For the better part of a year, Faulkner bounced around ideas for a site-specific piece with Trigilio (who at an earlier phase in his life served as a Zen Buddhist priest) before settling on the concept of juxtaposing our inner dialogue about sense of self and belonging with our external environment.
“By placing a piece of art in a public commercial site — that alone addresses the theme,” she says. “But, we wanted to represent the micro as well — the micro being the interior world of an individual or between two people or one person with the larger group. It felt like a way to address human dynamics not specifically but the idea of belonging in place.”
At one otherwise prosaic moment in the piece, Trigilio bathes a solitary dancer in flood of stars. “We’re trying to express the concept of singularity within that vastness,” Faulkner says. “Even though we can feel we belong and even though we’re surrounded by people — which in Union Square you often are — we are still ultimately alone. Even in the search for belonging and togetherness, there’s still something that is loaded in that at our base level we know that we’re by ourselves in this. I think that’s been the enduring subtext.”
Half-hour performances can be witnessed either at Union Square or at Yerba Buena Lane, both of which can be cool or windy at night. Audiences are encouraged to dress warmly. A little breeze seems like a small price to pay for free public art.
IF YOU GO
Presented by little seismic dance company
Where: Union Square, Geary and Powell streets, San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday and Sunday
Where: Yerba Buena Lane, between Market, Mission, Third and Fourth streets. San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 6 through Oct. 9