Tayside and Central Scotland

Dance company 'overwhelmed' by 9/11 Memorial Museum performance

Within This Dust Image copyright Shaper/Caper
Image caption The dance company said performing at the 9/11 Memorial Museum was a "humbling" experience

A Dundee-based dance company which performed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York has described the experience as "overwhelming."

Shaper/Caper performed Within This Dust as part of the museum's 15-year anniversary programme.

It was the first time a dance company had performed at the museum, which is on the site of the 9/11 attacks.

The museum's executive vice president Cliff Chanin described the performance as a "moving, thrilling evening."

Within This Dust is inspired by photographer Richard Drew's images, which capture a man falling from the World Trade Center during the attacks.

Mr Chanin said a colleague had seen a previous performance of Within This Dust in New York and came back with a "strong recommendation" about its power.

Image copyright 9/11 Memorial Museum
Image caption The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened in 2014
Image copyright 9/11 Memorial Museum

He said: "The program staff saw some video of the work, and we were very interested.

"Turns out that our audience was too, since the performance of Within This Dust generated a standing room only crowd last week."

Mr Chanin said the piece was "reverent and honest" and "hits with real force."

"We were all - audience, performers, staff - very conscious of the stakes of doing the piece at the museum, the site of the attacks.

"A panel with (choreographer) Tommy Small and the dancers after the performance brought real detail to the thoughtfulness and commitment we saw on stage."

Humbling experience

Mr Small said it had been a "humbling" experience to perform in the museum space.

He said: "It was overwhelming, it was quite the experience.

"It's a really amazing, beautiful museum that so sensitively looks at and explores the events of the day.

Image copyright Sid Scott
Image caption Within This Dust has also been performed in Berlin and Sao Paolo

"To actually perform it there was just absolutely incredible."

Mr Small said the group was unsure whether the performance would attract an audience.

He said: "We were pleasantly surprised a few days before it to find out that the show had completely sold out.

"They ended up having an overfill area just outside the auditorium to watch it on the screen."

Within This Dust was first performed in full at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 and has since been shown in Berlin and Sao Paolo.

'Incredibly welcoming'

Although the show had already been performed three times in New York, Mr Small said the experience was "absolutely" different for himself and dancers Ellen Cobbaert and Vince Virr.

He said: "It was quite humbling to be in that space and to think that literally metres away the attacks happened.

"It was a hugely emotional experience for the dancers, they found it quite a difficult thing to embark on.

"They're both very seasoned performers, but they had said they felt the weight of what they were doing."

Mr Small said the audience members, which included many directly affected by the attacks, were "incredibly welcoming."

He said: "It was a really lovely thing to experience.

"I had the feeling I had the very first time we performed it in New York.

"It was 'oh my goodness, what are we doing?' and 'is this the right thing to do?'"

"Particularly when you're in that space and you have so many people directly affected by the attacks being there in that room.

"But those worries quickly went away."

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