Palmas was a two part site specific project at Manitoga: The Russel Wright Design Center (Garrison, NY): a surround sound installation and a live performance in which the projects activated the Quarry Pool and encircling paths. It was on site for seven months in 2014. The work takes its name from the improvised, rhythmic clapping that is an integral part – the heartbeat – of Flamenco. Palmas animated the site aurally to invite a heightened sense of awareness of Manitoga’s landscape. This exploration enlivened the site in a unique call and response, creating a dialogue with the rocks, the water, and the trees. A recorded sound composition of a professional palmero clapping accompanied visitors moving along the Quarry Pool paths at timed intervals. The clapping, which has been plucked from its usual rhythmic role in the Flamenco dance, intertwines with the natural environment. “The sculptural quality of sound followed by its palpable absence enhances the visitor experience and intimacy with nature” explains McGill. McGill drew inspiration for this project from her own dance background (she studied Flamenco with Jose Molina in NYC) and from her 2003 artist residency in Andalusia, Spain.
The site-specific Palmas performance builds upon this theme as Flamenco performers engage Manitoga’s landscape in a unique call and response, creating a dialogue with the natural environment through song, music and dance. McGill collaborated to create this with an ensemble of renowned flamenco performers – Peter Basil Bogdanos (percussionist/cante-song), Isabel del Dia (baile-dance), Sol La Argentinita (baile/cante), Barbara Martinez (baile/cante), and Cristian Puig (toque-guitar).
The Quarry Pool forms a natural amphitheater where performers used a custom built stage, at the base of the waterfall and that seemed to float on water from a central bridge. The stage and specially designed resonant boxes served as acoustic platforms for Flamenco’s signature clapping and footwork, turning the central Quarry into an instrument of sound and human interaction.
This series, “Scores for Palmas”, was created on site at Manitoga in 2014 (watercolor on vintage music composition paper).