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Halloween Hafla 2020 – Creativity in the Time of COVID

A little fun background peek into our latest performance here at Deep Roots Dance:

It is ROUGH on group improv dancers right now. We can’t be in the same space together, and Zoom has its limitations. So live performances just aren’t possible right now. But we crave the organic process of creation, of leading and following one another–that unique feeling you share when you get to take your dance family on a ride through your head, and vice versa. We brainstormed about how to try to retain a bit of that, while still putting together a recorded piece we felt was as polished and professional as we could muster.

So what did we do? We did a sort of telephone game. We staged the show as it it were going to be pure improv. Then the first lead recorded themselves leading their section, then sent it to the next person to lead. They recorded themselves picking up where the last leader left off, recorded their section, and we tacked it on. So on and so on until all five dancers had lead a section. This meant all were following each of their dance sisters at different parts in the music.

For the opening video sequence, I asked each of them to “noodle around a bit”, a bit of solo improv; and I also asked them to film themselves in a “spooky way” with the old flashlight under the chin trick. I took each of their mini solos and spooky footage and spliced them together to create an intro. As we were in the process, someone made a comment about how it would be fun to have “the Beetlejuice graveyard” in the opening segment. Someone else piped up that we could have tin headstones with our names on them, and could we Photoshop it somehow? Instead, as a surprise, our troupe-mate Niffer put her D&D miniature props and painting skills to use and surprised us with an entire 3D mini-graveyard, and then filmed a flythrough clip to boot! I grabbed it and edited it to match the colors and special effects of the rest of the show, and played with the video timing, as you see in the finished piece.

And final fun fact: we had to do all of this (film personal improv choreography, create the props, costume and film the final videos) in approximately two weeks. Why? Because we were pulling this together as our sister Sarah Musick was getting ready to move back home to Washington from Virginia. In fact, her video was shot in her almost entirely empty apartment in Virginia because the movers had already taken all of her and her wife’s belongings, and the VERY NEXT DAY, the two of them were hopping in a car for a 2 week road trip across the country. The deadline to submit the video was going to be while she was on the road, so we had to have all of it ready for final editing before she left the east coast. There was no second take, there was no take-backsies. We had to nail it and get it into the editing software for the final piece *snap* like that.

So there are some fun facts about our performance. Without further ado, here is the finished project!

Follow Shay:

Shay Moore is the director and primary instructor at Deep Roots Dance in Seattle, WA. She loves writing, movies, costuming, knitting, cooking, and bellydance to the moon and back again; and loves her amazing husband and doggies even more than that.

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