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On Site

Methods for Site-Specific Performance Creation

Stephan Koplowitz

Publication Date - 22 April 2022

ISBN: 9780197515242

324 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock


On Site: Methods for Site-Specific Performance Creation is a practical book for artists and students at all levels who create or are learning to create making sited dance works. Author Stephan Koplowitz covers specific, hands-on strategies for an array of issues to consider before, during, and after embarking upon a project, including site selection, procuring permits, designing the audience experience, researching and exploring a site for inspiration and content, differences in urban and natural environments, definitions of key production roles, building effective collaborations with artists, and techniques to generate site-inspired production elements such as sound/music, costumes, lighting, and media. He also offers helpful chapters on project budgeting, contract negotiation, fundraising, marketing, documentation, and assessment.

Based on the author's career spanning over 30 years of site-specific creation, the book also includes the voices of over 24 other artists, producers, and writers who share their perspectives and experiences on the many topics covered. A guide designed to make site work practical, intentional, and attainable, On Site will become a well-worn reference for anyone interested in the creative process and discovering the power of site-specific works.


  • GGuides readers through the practical aspects of creating and producing site dance performances with accessible, easy-to-read chapters addressing both theoretical and pragmatic aspects of site specific creation
  • Contains conversations with 24 practicing artists
  • Details real-world scenarios from the author's decades of experience as a creator

About the Author(s)

Stephan Koplowitz is an award-winning director/ choreographer/media artist working on stage, film, and site. He has created 92 works produced in the US, Europe, and Asia. Awards include the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, Guggenheim Fellowship, New York "Bessie" Award, six NEA Fellowships, and a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowship. After 23 years in NYC working as an educator and artist, Koplowitz was appointed dean/faculty of dance at the California Institute of the Arts (2006- 2016). Koplowitz has a degree in music from Wesleyan University and an MFA in choreography from the University of Utah. He currently resides in NYC.


"In this comprehensive, wonderfully organized volume, ... Koplowitz shares his extensive knowledge of a multi-faceted genre, and he does so with elegant logic, along with a spirit of generosity and care." -- Ann Murphy, Wendy Perron

"On Site is no dry or abstruse tome. It's an homage, first and foremost, to performance in non-traditional spaces, and it is a stunning template that takes the reader step by step through the processes, beginning wide—with site visits—to constructing structures, gathering partners, participants, pr, money, budgets, tech, costumes, documentation and, at the end, designing and making assessments....And on a practical note, On Site is a good reason, if one is needed, for educators to build a class around creating site-specific work. It could even invite collaboration across disciplines, perhaps outside the arts." -- Ann Murphy, Notable Dance Books

"The definitive new textbook on site-based work. He meticulously covers the logistics and artistic mindset needed for site-specific projects. Koplowitz lovingly shares his process from decades in the field, including staging large-scale site-specific works around the globe." -- Jill Randall, Dance Teacher

"With the range of voices and approaches he discusses, Koplowitz is able to touch on the numerous ideas and creative practices involved in the form and utilize his extensive knowledge and experience." -- Laura Stein, thINKingDance.net

"Among a wealth of practical advice for site work creation are Koplowitz's stimulating ideas for site selection and designing events for them, researching site histories and communities, and collaborations with associate artists." -- Jonathan Stein, thINKingDance.net

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Motivations and Definitions

    1. How Do We Start?
    Chapter 1 What Motivates Site Selection
    Chapter 2 Permissions, Permits and Insurance
    Chapter 3 Designing the Event, Staging the Audience
    Chapter 4 The Site as Inspiration for Your Work

    3. Fueling Your Vision
    Chapter 5 Staffing Key Production Roles
    Chapter 6 Negotiating Fee and Contract
    Chapter 7 Planning Your Planning Budget
    Chapter 8 Fundraising for Your Artistic Plan: A Short Primer

    4. Creating/Generating Content
    Chapter 9 Staging, Placing Your Work in a Site (one method)
    Chapter 10 Site Content and Process
    Chapter 11 Collaboration and Collaborative Elements

    5. Creative and Production Challenges
    Chapter 12 Rehearsal Process
    Chapter 13 Rehearsal Safety
    Chapter 14 Creating for Physically Integrated Casts and Accessibility

    6. More Challenges from the Real World
    Chapter 15 Working with a Set Budget after Fundraising
    Chapter 16 Promoting and Marketing the Work
    Chapter 17 Documentation
    Chapter 18 Assessment

    7. Epilogue
    Chapter 19 Last, Last Thoughts

    About the Author

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