October 12, 2015

Dancers Descend Upon the Semi-Vacant Crenshaw Hospital

I'm so predictable. My eyes light up at any mention of "abandoned hospital."

The one that caught my attention this time was a corner property at the border of Baldwin Hills Estates, which isn't really abandoned. Its owners have put it up for sale (cash only), and are currently occupying around half of it.

It's advertised as "semi-vacant." Forum Medical Group appears to still occupy part of it.

This was Crenshaw Hospital, an acute outpatient care facility.

But in such close proximity to Hollywood, empty buildings are rarely entirely abandoned.

Like many empty buildings in LA, it has made cameos on film, perhaps most recognizably in the hospital scene in Daredevil.

It was also the venue for the latest installment of Heidi Duckler's Sophie & Charlie dance telenovela.

It's not the first time that the Heidi Duckler dancers have climbed the walls of an abandoned hospital...

...but there's something less surrealistic about the former Crenshaw Hospital than Linda Vista, which had been used as a filming location for numerous horror films.

While Linda Vista kind of always looked like a movie set, the Crenshaw medical facility seems like a place you might actually have a doctor's appointment...

...or visit for a free mammogram.

But for this performance, you could park in one of the spots reserved for the doctors.

There were no doctors here on a Sunday afternoon.

Well, no real doctors.

Although it wouldn't take much to bring me to the Crenshaw Redevelopment Area—for an abandoned hospital, or to spot the Space Shuttle Endeavour... takes more than that for more people to venture outside of their geographic comfort zones.

And once the audience arrives, they don't just take their seats and passively watch a performance.

They move from room to room... follow the action as it happens in different settings... the dancers use every piece of equipment and furniture in their choreography...

...and live musicians play percussion and horns (and dripping water and all sorts of other sound effects) to accompany the action.

In this latest episode of the dance telenovela, we follow Sophie and Charlie into the hospital...

...after Charlie had a bit too much to drink, let his wandering eye roam, and got into a terrible car accident.

Their reunion becomes a stand-off. No words are spoken, but thanks to the music and the movements—the memories and the macabre setting—the audience kind of absorbs the storyline, which seeps in through the skin. It rises up the body through the soles of the feet.

I love an abandoned building, devoid of people. But there's something very special about the way that these dancers acquaint themselves with a space that has fallen into disuse and disrepair and find new ways to experience it.

Whichever the venue, whatever the occasion, these dancers are in situ.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Linda Vista Hospital Comes Alive With "The Groundskeepers"
A Matter of Place: Dancing Through Chinatown's Changes
Last Night, At Church

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