Project Trans(m)it: Local Dance Exhibition Connects Bodies and Movement Through Technology
In today’s world, a conversation with someone in Tokyo is only a FaceTime away. With advances in modern telecommunications, people are able to communicate across great distances to catch up with old friends, handle business deals, teach classes, and so much more. But these advances can be used in other, more creative ways, too. For example, three women are utilizing this technology (and a solid internet connection) for the sake of performance art and dance.
Becca Weber, Megan Mizanty and Lora Allen are located in different cities across the globe, but spend their Fridays rehearsing together for Project Trans(m)it, a collaborative, long-term research and performance project delving into tech-riddled space. The performance explores the transmittance of dance and movement via technology, transference of choreographic ideas in different continental spaces, what is gained and lost in these transfers, and which technological platforms are best used for which types of physical information transmission. Rehearsals and practice for the project aren’t held in a meatspace studio; instead they occur in online live streams.
Project Tran(s)mit began when Weber, who is currently based in Coventry, UK, introduced Mizanty and Allen over the internet. Weber and Mizanty met while obtaining their MFA’s in Dance at Temple University and Weber taught at The Iron Factory, an arts space in Kensington where Allen worked. The group wanted to put together a performance, but didn’t want to be limited by their physical locations. So they took to the internet to make it happen.
“I think this was out of my own desire to stay connected to the communities and people I was leaving across the pond,” Weber said. “We were all interested in working in some similar ways, so I helped connect us; but the project was really co-conceived once that spark was lit.”
The trio rehearsed online, eventually performing Phase 1 of Project Trans(m)it in October 2015. That was the first time all three met and danced together.
“Meg and Lora had never even met [in person] prior to beginning the project,” Weber said. “After working together for quite some time, when they met in person, Lora took one look at Meg and said, ‘You’re tall!’ That was a fun reminder of just how distant we’d been, though we’d been working so closely and grown together through the technology, despite the distance.”
Following eight months of online rehearsals, the trio is almost ready to unveil Phase 2 of Project Trans(m)it to audiences. Since their first performance, the group created and expanded their work over technology and social media to construct an evening-length performance. Even though the technology to make a performance like this happen is available, practice still comes with its fair share of issues. Nobody, not even technology, is perfect.
“We frequently joke that half the battle of rehearsing online with one another is the setup process; there almost always seems to be a tech glitch,” Mizanty said. “We’ve learned to expect and make time for the tech issues during rehearsals. Phase 2 uses much of these ‘mistakes’ for creative inspirations. It is fascinating when one of us is dancing on Skype, and suddenly the screen freezes. We may be suspended in midair, or perhaps our body becomes blurred or transparent. We’ve tried to capture those moments, and insert them directly into our choreographic processes.”
Phase 2 of Project Trans(m)it will debut at 8PM on August 13 and 14 at The Iron Factory (118 Fontain St. 3rd Floor) and tickets are $15. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. •