Once upon a time, orchestra halls were raucous places, bursting with chatty patrons who were eager to applaud — dare I say it — during a movement. Composers, such as Mozart and Brahms, saw an engaged, reactive audience as a sign of respect. Not until the 20th century did “concert etiquette” develop and audiences became staid, passive observers waiting to clap on cue.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, it’s important for you to know that the people behind the Bohemian Dub Ball May 10 at the Hult Center are looking for an audience with that pre-20th-century zing; they want the crowd to dance, sing and surrender themselves to the arts. Organized by the Community Center for the Performing Arts (CCPA) and the arts umbrella group Bohemian Dub (electronic band Medium Troy and the Bohemian Dub Orchestra), the ball pairs the UO-based art collective Harmonic Laboratory, local dance troupes, musicians and artists with national acts RJD2, Devin the Dude and Eskmo.
The ball’s theme, a meditation on duality — modernism and classicism, acoustic and analog, organic and tech, town and gown — requires the audience become part of the tableau by coming in costumes inspired by the past and future.
Medium Troy’s JoJo Ferreira, the event’s organizer-in-chief, has experience putting on ambitious multi-disciplinary arts events; last November, Medium Troy played a sold-out show with the 30-plus-piece Bohemian Dub Orchestra at the McDonald, and in January the band performed as part of Harmonic Lab’s stunning (sub)Urban Projections event in the Hult lobby. The ball, however, is by far Ferreira’s biggest project yet with more than 100 participating artists and musicians pulled from the UO, LCC, the city of Eugene and as far-reaching as Philly (RJD2) and Poland (Etam Cru artist Sainer provided the poster art).
Ferreira says he hopes the Dub Ball becomes an annual art meet-up “that marries popular concert art — like what we do, rock-band stuff, electronica — with fine arts.”
The fine arts are where Harmonic Labs comes in. Brad Garner, UO dance professor and part of the Harmonic Lab team, recruited contemporary ballet dancers from the UO like Katie Scherman and breakdancers from local groups like the Space Invaders to dance to a Chopin piece laced with glitch hop, a subgenre of electronic music.
“There’s a guy doing locking right behind Katie,” Garner says. “To see someone locking to Chopin — it just really messes with your perspective. It’s very beautiful.”
Light at Play’s Yona Appletree will conduct led orbs at the ball. Photo by Trask Bedortha
Calyn Kelly, program coordinator for the CCPA (associated with the WOW Hall), helped bring in electronic music producers RJD2 (perhaps whose most widely known piece is the Mad Men theme) and Eskmo, as well as hip-hop artist Devin the Dude.
“I’ve been with the CCPA in one way or another for almost 10 years and in that time we’ve never tried to do an event that’s incorporated this many different groups or people or artists,” Kelly says. “That’s exciting for us.”
Medium Troy, RJD2 and Devin the Dude will be backed by an orchestra, conducted by Harmonic Lab composer Jeremy Schropp, of about 40 musicians and Eskmo will be perform alongside a 10-piece ensemble, with choreographed dance sets by Broadway Burlesque Revue, Work Dance Company, Red Moon Rising, Aerial Silks and more sprinkled throughout. Adding to the artscape, UO prof and video artist John Park will do animated projection mapping and local company Light at Play will power its glowing geodesic domes — orbs of swirling light that react to sound and movement. The larger dome is made up of 6,800 LED lights, each one individually controllable.
“The show is a big experiment,” Garner says. “Can you put popular media in that kind of austere space and have people understand how to respond to it? There’s a whole orchestra pit cleared out for dancing, but what about all the seats?”
The Bohemian Dub Ball begins 7:30 pm Saturday, May 10, at the Hult Center: $15 students, $20-$25 general. Tickets available at hultcenter.org.