When the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Los Angeles World Airports contacted me almost two years ago about creating an original site work at the Van Nuys Flyaway, I had no idea what the place really was, how it looked, or even where Van Nuys was. I went one evening to check it out and was transfixed. The beauty of the architecture and lighting, the power of its span and scale, the neon Lili Lakich Prometheus sculpture, and the scrimmed parking structure…. I felt like I had just landed in Oz and been asked to create a production there. I was over the moon, over the rainbow, and completely thrilled.
The Van Nuys Flyaway is a bus terminal that transports people en masse to LAX. Travelers can get dropped off or park their cars (for a fraction of the cost at LAX) and ride the bus to the airport. Over the ensuing weeks I spent many hours there, watching travelers of all sizes, shapes, ages and ethnicities come and go, watching their emotional reunions or touching departures with relatives and loved ones coming to greet them or see them on their way. Or watching individuals, solitary, and I imagined lonely, waiting, luggage by their sides for their departing bus.
If “FlyAway Home” is about anything, it’s about the paradox between our desire as humans to ascend, physically and metaphorically, and the downward pull of gravity. It’s about the desire to travel and the pull of home. However, when I begin a work I have a myriad of visual images in my head and I don’t question the meaning of them. I sit with the images, let them gestate, and use them as a point of departure to begin crafting the movement and conceiving of the overall action. For me the Van Nuys Flyaway, as with every stage and every new site, was a blank canvas — one I could paint with movement, and with literal, emotional or metaphorical color.
“FlyAway Home” is a roving site work that breaks down the barrier between audience and observer. A traveler can walk through the action and it will still be perfect. There isn’t a designated place to sit or any designated stage, just areas that people move through. As a director and choreographer of site-specific work I’m most interested in using imagery and movement to create a visual and visceral landscape, one in which an audience is free to interpret, to move, and to be moved. All of what I do is augmented by the brilliant work of my collaborators: FeltLike, who did the amazingly beautiful, ambient score, visual artist Stephen Glassman’s stunning projections on the four story parking structure, and the whimsical and lovely costumes of Swinda Reichelt.
After watching “FlyAway Home” last year, the youngest daughter of a friend of mine said one of the nicest things I have ever heard about my work: “I had to pinch myself twice because I thought I was in a dream”. This is exactly I want… to invite the audience, and the performers in, to be a part of my dream.
“FlyAway Home” is at the Van Nuys Flyaway
7610 Woodley Avenue, Van Nuys, CA 91406
Saturday October 13 @ 8 pm, Sunday October 14 @ 7 pm.
Sarah Elgart: FlyAway Home
Sarah Elgart: Commercial Reel