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'Inside Passages/Outside Passages'

"Passages is our code for the things in life that happen that are sometimes traumatic, sometimes celebratory," says Bruce Bayard, visual artist for the Passages performance group. "We all go through them."

The group — which includes dancer Suzee Grilley, composer Todd Barton, poet Jonah Bornstein and singer Christine Williams — will explore these ideas through two nights of multimedia performances titled "Inside Passages/Outside Passages." The performances will convey the ideas through an internal, personal focus and an outward focus.

The performances are set for 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 19-20, at DanceSpace, 280 E. Hersey St., Ashland.

The show includes dance by Grilley, music by Barton, Bayard and Williams and poetry by Bornstein while images created by Bayard are projected onto the stage.

"What I'm doing with the visuals is using things that are metaphoric," Bayard says. "For example, a bridge plays heavily in this performance. You could read all sorts of things into that. I like using it symbolically and I like using it in a way that people can bring their own interpretation to it."

While the performances have a basic concept to them, each show is completely improvised.

"We have an improvisational format where we have either very loose or no parameters. Our basic motto is 'Start,' " Bayard says. "So we start and we have ways of working where we key into what other people are doing. That's the main thing with improv, knowing what's going on around you and being open and receptive to it."

While the image projection is a prepared element, it also follows an improvised format.

"What I've done is program (the image projection) so that it actually happens somewhat randomly," Bayard says. "While I could give you a sense of the overall feel, like 'This section is going to be chaotic,' I couldn't tell you what order the chaos is going to be in."

Bornstein's poetry acts in a similar way.

"He's sort of rewriting it on the fly, based on how things are happening on stage," Bayard says. "He does have source material, in a similar way to what I've done with the images, but he's finding ways that those fit into, and respond to, what's going on.

"Sometimes he drives it. He'll come forward with words and we'll respond to that."

Passages was devised by Bayard and Barton, who previously performed electronic music together as a way to make performances more human.

"(We) had been doing monthly concerts together and inviting a third person as a guest artist," Bayard says. "One of them was Christine, and when she joined us, I realized that there was a missing sense of humanity. I decided that I wanted to have an ensemble that really expressed the full range of humanity."

Bayard says that each person in the group contributes a unique form of human expression and creativity to the performances.

"It's a unique art form," Bayard says. "I think it's just a full expression of the creative spirit."

Tickets for the performances cost $15 and are available at Bloomsbury Books, 290 E. Main St., Ashland, or online at www.brucebayard.com/tickets.

'Inside Passages/Outside Passages'