New York choreographer and dancer Suzanne Snider finds a fresh perspective in Richmond where she premieres "Motel Fan Club 1." 

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"Motel Fan Club 1"
Sept. 24-25
8 p.m.

When Suzanne Snider graduated from Connecticut's Wesleyan University with a degree in dance and moved to New York to pursue a career, she found the dance scene disappointing. "I wasn't inspired by what I was seeing," she explains, describing the New York dance scene as too homogenized and "incestuous." "There's a lack of diversity in the dancing. And it's always the same faces in the audience — other dancers and choreographers."

In her quest for a new aesthetic and new audience, Snider knew she had to leave New York. So last February, Snider headed south to explore the country beyond the Northeast and find an appropriate venue for her "new and experimental structure."

The result of her search is the world premiere of "Motel Fan Club 1," a multimedia event created by Motel Productions, a trio that includes fellow dancer/choreographer Kara Gilmour, and videographer/photographer Lee Whittier. The Murrays, a punk klezmer band, will provide music during the Sept. 24 and 25 shows at Artspace.

Snider says Artspace is her ideal venue. She wanted a less traditional space than a proscenium theater and an art gallery suited her spatial and auditory needs. "I've found that galleries have great acoustics," she says. "We're also an image-based group, so a gallery works very well for us."

During her search along the Eastern corridor, Snider stopped in one city after another, staying at motels, "wandering around blindly," not pleased by what she encountered. Until Richmond, that is, her final stop. The city's size and quaintness appealed to her. And when she found Artspace with its multiple rooms, creaky wooden staircase and open ceiling, she knew she could realize the group's vision. "I really want to use the architecture of a place and invite the artists to literally take a room," she says.

Three of Artspace's rooms get utilized in "Motel Fan Club 1," which is loosely based on the transience of motels. "Motels are like your own private town," Snider says. "It's both a blessing and a curse. There's a beauty to them, but they can also be quite bleak."

The first half of the production occurs in the two small galleries which will house sculpture and Whittier's photos of motels as well as a video. The second half occurs in the large gallery with Snider and Gilmour dancing to the improvised music of the Murrays. (About half of this 12-member band will perform with a few local musicians invited to stand in.) The dances are character driven, with improvised sections, and a cameo by a gorilla. The line-up includes other "mystery guests" as well.

Though Snider has visited Artspace only once prior to the performance, she is excited by the show. "I've had this fantasy about performing out of town," she says. "To perform locally [in New York] would be anti-climatic. Performing in Richmond will let the work breathe and open the group to new possibilities."

With all the hype that typically accompanies New York's cultural life, it's refreshing to hear that a visitor searching for diversity could find such a gem right

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