At the beginning of the semester, one of my 1st year MFA cohort, Mollie Wolf ask me and Jackie Courchene (same as 1st year MFA) to create a piece about no physical contact trio and reflecting our time under the coronavirus pandemic. She also had costumes, the yellow and white zipper jackets, pants, and matching yellow socks that we could use.
I loved her concept so I said YES! immediately. I have never collectively choreographed before, so it was a great learning experience. We all approached this piece with a different perspectives and backgrounds. For example, Mollie has already set a piece by using the same costume, but different idea. Therefore, we communicate openly until we all get to the point of agreement. We compromise and fix the direction when we needed to.
The speed of this creation was very quick. We started to meet on Fridays after the Choreography Workshop course. We brainstormed ideas of how we negotiate the space without body contact. Started with an improvisation game, one or two people trying to touch the third person and she avoid the touches. It created the narrative of seeking consent. Then move on to the basic phrase-making. We got inspiration from our new “normal”, sanitization, washing hands, put masks on, screening… During this process, we faced the question, what we want to portrait. Since we were reflecting the pandemic, we also made the scene called “transmission,” which at first was the virus were transmitting from body to body, but later on shifting to the transmission of fear of getting coronavirus. After the first showing, we also noticed that all phrases we created were mechanical and systematic therefore there was another question came up which how we want to add humanity to this piece.
The process was, indeed, a deep rabbit hall. Especially on how we want to conclude this piece was a hard task to tackle. We initially wanted to finish with three endings, Mollie as extremely against the protocol, Jackie as the follower of the protocol, and I as in-between of the extremes which was the most relatable character. Although in order to find the thread in between of all the materials we created, we rewrote the ending as a unison walk into the unknown future together. In order to finalize our narrative of this piece, we manually wrote all the materials into paper and visualize the order.
Also, this piece had huge support by the sound. Mollie designed it by mixing the song from Alva Noto and many sounds and voices from The Conet Project. Both are electric and industrial which created the mood of the piece. Especially, we pulled many counting voices in different languages from The Conet Project to show what we deal with in this piece was universal. Then we added Jackie’s partner, Jordan’s voice to be “the protocol,” which was an external source to order us what to do. The sound is the trigger for us to move on to the next scenes and controlled the emotion and movement.
Lastly, we struggled with the title. Professor Petry gave us an exercise to find the words chine to trace down or up to micro and macro ideas. We tried couple of times though finding the word to start the exercise was tricky since we had total of 8 scenes which all were different from each other and the thread to connect them all was Jordan’s voice, “the protocol.” Therefore, we ended up landing on using the protocol’s phrases to tell our story chronologically.
We concluded the project at the end of November. Looking back to the almost 3 months journey was a great ride. We had such a clear idea yet it took a long time to get to the actual product that we were satisfied with. We had to sit down and discuss a lot, wrote down all the ups and downs. It was worth fighting to reach the end. I hope you enjoy our piece, “Clear. Again. Proceed.” Please leave the comment below to let me hear your thoughts:)