(prepare for an absolutely epic update)
Right before winter break, I was asked if I wanted to do a performance piece for Continuum, which is a huge event to celebrate the opening of the School of Art’s Visual Arts Graduate Research Laboratory which is set for February 20th & February 21st, and will involve 100 + artists.
I immediately thought of how amazing it would be to have butoh-like dancers in glorious white Skingraft-inspired dresses moving silently and mischievously through the multiple galleries in the Research Laboratory. I made the following costume sketch:
...And what began as just one image in my mind has grown into something very beautiful and powerful very quickly.
As things stand, the piece is called nameless, and is inspired by the Eastern European legends of the rusalki (also wili/vila, the phrase from which the phrase "getting the willies" comes from, and the Willies found in the ballet Giselle). These are ghosts or water demons suspended between the water and the air who lure mortals to misty ponds or lakes in hopes of satiating their eternal desire to dance. It is very much about a female power and beauty that has passed through the filter of death, and is bewitching, horrifying and fragile at the same time.
The movements of the dancers will be completely improvisational and interactive with the environment around them. I am looking to butoh, mime, contact improvisation, ballet and court dances for the physical vocabulary of the performance, and encouraging the dancers to transform and be transformed by the space around them. Essentially, I want the performers to create psychological tension through movement (not abrasive tension, but engagement, curiosity, slight amusement, wonder, perhaps slight discomfort) which will culminate in an aerial/dance sequence at the very end. I am incredibly lucky to be working with Flam Chen and several very talented local dancers and friends in this project - it is definitely a very collaborative endeavor.
Although I have been performing and dancing my whole life, it has always been on others' terms, and this is the first time that I can direct the energy and aesthetic of a performance. It is very exhilarating and a little frightening to be in such a position, but things are falling into place so easily, and I am finding so much joy in working on this project, that I think this is the right time for such a transition.
Below you'll find some images that are inspiring the costumes and aesthetic of the piece. (Unfortunately, I did not keep track of the artists/photographers as I was collecting these, so I am afraid I cannot give credit as to who created these images - many apologies):
...Bodied dressed sort of like that, and moving sort of like this:
And there will definitely be some of this:
So there you are - this is what I have been focusing most of my energy in the past couple weeks. If the rehearsals we've had so far and the way the dresses are progressing are any indication, this piece is going to be exquisite. I know it probably evolved into something much more extensive than the School of Art originally envisioned (hmm yes, there's an aerial rig involved) but as I said earlier, its coming to me so easily, and I have the resources to make this happen...so why not?
I will do my damnest to document the design process of this whole endeavor, and I already have sketches and progress photos uploaded online, but I fear that this blog entry has reached inappropriately gargantuan proportions as is, so till next time!