Attendance appreciated

“Thank You For Coming: Attendance” will be at the Walker Art Center on Wednesday.

A work-in-progress showing of choreographer Faye Driscolls Thank You For Coming series. Driscoll and Thank You For Coming: Attendance are hitting the Walker Art Center Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of Maria Baranova

A work-in-progress showing of choreographer Faye Driscoll’s “Thank You For Coming” series. Driscoll and “Thank You For Coming: Attendance” are hitting the Walker Art Center Wednesday.

by Jared Hemming

It’s not easy to do the same performance in different cities night after night while on tour.
For New York-based choreographer Faye Driscoll and and her group, however, each new audience keeps the show fresh.
In “Thank You For Coming: Attendance,” Driscoll’s artful choreography relies on the audience to make each performance unique.
“The show is an immersion with the audience,” Driscoll said.
In “Attendance,” Driscoll invites show goers to join her group onstage and become a part of what she calls a “75-minute community.”
“I don’t know exactly what community is, but I think it’s abstract,” Driscoll said. “We’re always inside some sort of community, whether or not we want to be.”
Though “Attendance” doesn’t have a concrete narrative, Driscoll and her performers physically entangle themselves with one another in varying shapes — images Driscoll hopes help audiences think about what being in a community feels like.
“The show is dealing a lot with that feeling that you’re connected or that you’re inside some organism that’s larger than you,” Driscoll said.
Touring art museums across the country, Driscoll said she likes to meet each venue’s ushers and other employees, as “Attendance” relies on a sense of familiarity with the audience and the performance space.
In addition to blending audiences and performers, the piece’s sections twist different show tropes.
“It’s all the things you might expect when you come to see a show — just a little bit tweaked,” Driscoll said.
Even though it’s choreography, don’t expect a bunch of dance moves.
“Think of choreography as an expansive term, one that means a creation of condition,” Driscoll said. “It’s more about the state that’s being made through all these elements.”
While performers and audiences contort with one another to make abstract human shapes onstage, that’s not the only aspect of audience involvement. Even denying Driscoll’s invitation onstage still makes you a part of the performance’s community.
“Whether or not I do anything, I’m a part of something,” Driscoll said about attendees who don’t join the performance. “I could say no to this experience, but I’m still here in this experience. Even in that act of not surrendering, there’s an acknowledgement that you’re a part of it.”
Driscoll’s goal with each performance of “Attendance” is to erase the lines between performer and audience, but she feels the show goes deeper than “participatory.”
“I feel like that word [has] a lot of baggage,” Driscoll said. “There’s an energetic charge between the witness and the actor. So [“Attendance” is] really working with that charge, pulling it out to the point where you realize that it’s one thing instead of two separate things.”
“Thank You For Coming: Attendance” 
Where Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
When 8 p.m. WednesdaySaturday7 p.m. Sunday
Cost $18–25