Obsolescent Woods

(above: Stills from the recording of the show)

a note about the video– I made it using my iphone and facebook live attached to my station– so the resolution is not ideal for presentation purposes but more to document it in a scrappy way– in a world, I would have hired a professional like I occasionally do.

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event flier design by Jenny Yang

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The process of making the show– I saw an opportunity for a performance at the Night of Forts and so I reached out to Nathaniel Miller who I have been jamming with at the Noise Jams and Art Nites.

He agreed to collaborate with me on a performance and I recruited some movers for the dance part. Inspired by psychobotany, I wanted to make a dance using the overhead projector and involve some people that I’ve never involved before, Dominique Nigro and Laura Cohen.

The dancemaking process was decidedly different than that of psychobotany. I wanted it to have more structure and use more props. I invited the four movers to my house for a kind of workshop were we talked about the intentions for the piece. We listened to the music and they planned how they would work together.

The execution of the piece was a bit of a different story. The environment of the event on show day was less than controlled. For Nathaniel to set-up a set up he’s never set up with someone else’s PA without adequate lighting, with a bit of pressure of time and people depending on him– we debriefed afterward, agreeing that it was a lot to expect.

So what happened is that we started maybe forty five minutes later than anticipated. It can be a lot when it seems like it’s five minutes away from starting every five minutes. I think this was the first time I was in a line-up as a “director” type role where there were other acts after us. I felt very responsible for the delay and had no idea of what the etiquette was for making amends or acknowledging the situation.

The movers took initiative– they wanted to start, so I said ok. The silence that ensued from them taking the stage after all this time was breathtaking. I really enjoyed the attention that was all visual. It was solemn, dreamy, sculpture-esque. I had never seen that before. I really liked it.

The music trickled in, slowly coming together into something. Nathaniel told me it wasn’t what he planned, he had to improvise. After about 16 minutes, one of the movers initiated a bit of choreography that was intended to be the end sequence. She rightly anticipated that the music cue they were relying on to leave the stage wouldn’t come on.

All in all, it was a good experience, though it was a bit stressful. I felt on the hook for commissioning movers to move in such an environment for a small stipend. I keep thinking that ideally I want to secure some grant money so that I wouldn’t feel so guilty, like compensating them with material gain would make me feel like I wasn’t asking for so much discomfort. And I would have more rehearsals to make sure they felt secure in the timing and manipulation of props– though now I’m inclined to have some kind of fallback plan in case the music isn’t cooperating.

During the show. I especially liked watching Andrew’s make-up stunt. It felt like a stunt, he took shirt and wiped his make-uped (and sweaty face) into his shirt and made a kind of rainbow. I am curious how to make a dance like that, where that is better integrated into some kind of narrative or series of colorations– like the dancers start out with white clothes and then there’s different dyeing mechanisms, ooooh.

I think in my heart I am still a painter and just want to see more color happen, the process of transformation.

There was a part where one of the mover’s dismounted another mover and fell onto a third mover– that was not planned either, but I was intrigued and nervous. I believe safety is an important factor, but also, like with theatrical wrestling, it might seem like more to those of us who are not so physical, how a small collision is really not that intense as watching it from the outside. But yea, also, I would want to give a show with four movers a bigger stage than I what was available this night.

Writing about it, I feel very grateful and inspired. I enjoy this play of light, movement, and sound. I am working to get a grant for a series of workshops around this kind of collaboration so that my group will be better prepared and better compensated. It’s a slow process of learning about how grants work.

Once again, a big thank you to the event’s producers, Jenny Yang and Forrest McCuller, the team at Beauty Supply and everyone on that bill. It was a fantastic night and I am honored to share the space and time and art with this community.

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