SALT Contemporary Dance Gets Intimate with ‘The Invitation’


“The Invitation” promo. (Photo by Samantha Little)

By Tervela Georgieva, Arts Writer


SALT Contemporary Dance showcased their performance of “The Invitation” at Kingsbury Hall from Sept. 16-18. As audience members witnessing live performance, we rarely get to see beyond the main theatre and stage. “The Invitation” uses the theatre in a non-traditional way and takes the audience through spaces they normally wouldn’t get to see, giving them an intimate and behind-the-scenes experience of live performance. 

Up Close and Personal

From the beginning, it was clear this was not going to be a traditional live performance where the audience would sit in the theatre and watch the stage. We were going to be walking, exploring and laughing with one another. 

“The Invitation” is set up to seem like a tour of Kingsbury Hall. The audience follows an unlikely tour guide (the maintenance man) to different locations in the theatre backstage, dressing rooms, stairways, the loading dock where we watch the dancers perform, sometimes even accompanied by live singing. Every space in the theatre was treated as a performance space, a space of potential. Kingsbury Hall’s specific architecture influenced every part of the show, almost as if the performance couldn’t exist in just any other theatre.

Along every stop, our tour guide would interact with us through questions. Eventually audience members felt comfortable enough to start joking around with him. Being up close with the dancers, the theatre space and fellow viewers created a feeling of intimacy to the performance that I don’t often experience. 


The dancers played off of each other’s movements, responding in ways that seemed improvisational. The performance was growing organically from moment to moment always playful and fun, giving the feeling of organized chaos.  At other times, dancers would break out in synchronicity, giving us an impression opposite of improvisation. 

Not only did dancers play off of each other, their movements also responded to the environment around them. At one point in the show, the maintenance man tour guide gets in an argument with the person who was supposed to be the original tour guide. The dancers changed their movements to respond to the fluctuations of voice in their argument. 

The uncut but also the intimate feeling of “The Invitation” was furthered by the dancers sometimes saying their steps out loud while performing, or huddling and trying to figure out the choreography on stage, as though they were in rehearsal with no audience. Witnessing the traditionally “back-stage” parts of a live performance made the moment special.  

Accepting the Invitation

Near the end of the performance, we’re brought to our final destination — the stage. Why are we, the audience, on stage? “The Invitation” is a testament to how, as audience members accepting the invitation to come to a performance, we are a part of the performance. We are participants, not passive observers. Audiences need dancers, but dancers also need audiences.

For a performance to exist, we need each other. That’s what’s so special about performance art. That’s what we’ve been missing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s what we’re happy to slowly be getting back to. My invitation back into the space of live performance couldn’t have had a better start. 


SALT Contemporary Dance will hold its “Fall Concert” from Nov. 3-6, though tickets are not yet on sale. Visit their website for updates and further information.


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