Past, Present, Future

S2021 E6 | FULL EPISODE

One + One Make Three (ASL, CC)

This experimental docu-dance film takes audiences into the studio with acclaimed ensemble Kinetic Light, exploring disability as a creative force. Access: ASL, captions. Director Katherine Helen Fisher/Safety Third Productions.

AIRED: May 11, 2021 | 0:27:35
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

:zooming sound bursts forward

:bright, cheerful synthesized :music bounces over a peppy beat

:energetic electronic :pulses and bubbles

:marimba chimes echo chords :synthesized electronic :chords build

Kate: :distorted and distant Devon will get some exterior shots just to locate where the project takes place.

Alice: One of the things that's interesting about this whole rehearsal process

is that we're not revealing where we are.

Echo: ...not revealing where we are.

Alice: Like, Devon captured the beginning, and like,

it's this kind of roadway that's so surrounded in mist

and, you know, there's a cyclist

who shoots through the space.

:whir of bicycle wheels

Alice: It's every film trope of

how the trees arc up over the road.

How the mist works.

Echo: ...and then how the...

Alice: I keep saying it's filmic...

Echo: ...but of course it's filmic!

Alice: ...in the way that it's so surreal, but actually...

Echo: ...it's so specific...

Alice: ...coded in filmic language -- and it's real.

Echo: ...and it's real.

:high piano notes alternate

:hollow wooden marimba :notes resonate

:plucked notes fall like rain

Alice: It's this incredible embodiment of the tree,

suddenly filled with dancers.

Echo: ...uh, suddenly the tree is alive...

Uh, what kind of tree is, like...

:intentional upward :music progressions

:soft synthesizer melody

Alice: It is...November, 2020.

:soft metallic boom

Alice: It is in the middle of the COVID pandemic. :metallic crank clangs

:lift whirs upward Alice: The world has broken apart.

Echo: ...broken apart...

Alice: We're in a bubble.

We're following COVID protocols. :metallic clang

Echo: We are following COVID protocols...

:metal rattles

Alice: We're watching the COVID numbers go up.

But we're here in a bubble making art.

:laughs

:alternating marimba chimes

Alice: I am seeing Laurel and Jerron for the first time since March.

We haven't done this since March.

Echo: ...we haven't done this...

Alice: Um, and even if you're doing your, your best to maintain a minimum,

you can't maintain six hours of tough dance work on your own every day.

We're working with aerial equipment,

you can't rig that necessarily and be on it for six hours a day.

Echo: ...and be on it for six hours a day.

Echo: :voices overlap

:rubber bungees squeak :droning synthesizer intensifies

:slap against thigh

:metallic chimes build

Alice: So we're here. It's November 2020...

:metal carabiner clicks

Alice: ...and we have this kind of glorious month of being together making work.

Echo: ...of being together making work.

Alice: Mm. Unreal.

Man. 2020.

:electronic tones alternating

:rubber bungee stretching :metallic equipment :against cloth

Kate: :electronically distorted I have so many more questions for you,

but I think it's good that we just chip away at it every night,

instead of, you know... Alice: :overlapping voice Yeah, yeah.

Kate: ...all at once. Alice: Yeah, yeah. That sounds good.

That sounds good.

:offscreen voice: Marker. :plastic snaps twice

:calming marimba chimes :resound and overlap

:low marimba chimes resume :alongside intensifying drone

:marimba chime harmony

:vinyl and velcro brush and crunch

:sandbag thuds

Alice: So, here's a question, like, how does a, a piece of,

how does a work come into being?

Some choreography is top-down.

Some choreography,

every motion of every finger

and every position and every look

is crafted by the choreographer,

but, in the course of --

Man, no, I've been doing this since...2005?

-- um, most of the pieces I've been in since then have not been that way.

And so, the dancers themselves, particularly in modern dance,

and contemporary, like post-modern dance, um,

the invitation is for dancers to be creators in the process.

Echo: ...the structure, and...

Jerron: I had always really wanted to be an artist, um,

and it's curious because I do think that an artist has to have a certain amount of,

um, oh gosh, confidence... :nervous laugh

...and, like, assurance in who they are and what they can bring to the table.

For me, artistry was really just the ability to make,

just to put things into the world, um, from my perspective.

But I recognize that what's, what's true for me is true for a lot of people.

Echo: ...and even if what's not explicit...

:indistinct overlapping voices

Alice: What you see here in our process is that Wired is being made,

it's being made in a kind of cauldron of process where...

:metal clicks Alice: ...the dancers are contributing

and I'm contributing and the composers are contributing

and it's not me saying you do this, do this, you do this, you do this, you do this.

It's this kind of mish-mash of raw commitment.

You know, we have, we've passed this kind of 19th century genius solo creator model.

:flutters of marimba notes :overlap

Laurel: I enjoy partnering.

I am not a huge fan of solo work.

It's not my key artistic interest.

I enjoy partnering and ensemble.

I love the way that one person plus one person can make something truly new

that is not quite the product of either... :rubber squeals against metal

Laurel: ...or you could sum as one and one make three.

:whirl of voice and breath

:voice yells: Ah!

:fluttering marimba notes :continue, stronger

:bass backbeat like a heartbeat

:metal gear clanks :against the ground

:rubber-soled footsteps :on marley floor

:marimba chimes overlap

:rubber wheels :pivot against vinyl

Kate: :electronically distorted What do we need to know about disability and access?

:sticky fingers squeak :against marley flooring

Alice: The first thing I think the nondisabled world is going to think about is

that the wheelchair becomes a choreographic object when actually it is not.

It is my body, and it is not a prop, it is not a tool, it is not a device, it is not an extension of my body.

It is my body. :airplane sound flying overhead

:droning synthesizer tones :distantly: ooh, :the camera's coming out!

:heavy breathing :metallic clicks of descending rigging equipment

:rubber wheels thunk

Alice: But my choreographic thinking, which is shared by Laurel and Jerron,

is how do we fully live into impairment, into disability,

and how do we choreograph the maximum expression of impairment and disability?

Echo: :voices overlap ...two, three, okay.

Laurel: Dance as the expression...

Echo: ...dance as... ...dance as...

Laurel: ...the artistic cultivation and expression

of the body is in many ways

ideal for the disabled body,

because we inherently have something different to say.

Now. I cannot compare, having never been nondisabled, uh,

what it might be like to dance in a nondisabled body.

:droning synthesizer hum :deep synthesizer tones :alternate

:distorted splashing water

Alice: The goal here is not to sort of set in opposition,

but to see how the field of dance for disabled artists is expanding;

how it can grow,

to really live out a perspective where disability is not incidental,

but it is a part of a culture and aesthetic in itself.

:overlapping marimba chimes

:distorted airplane :flying overhead

:marimba chimes become stronger

:distorted airplane :flying overhead

:feet land on marley floor

Jerron: I think that my weapon is to be a, an artist

because I'm creating things that aren't there.

Echo: ...and so, you know, it frees the self...

Jerron: Like when I get into the studio I feel very secure,

um, I feel very keyed in to my role and to my value.

:footsteps running on :sprung marley floor

Jerron: I look deep inside of me and ask, What are they interested in?

What do they, what do they want?

Why are they inviting me? Like, that question circulates,

and that's how I bring out what I bring out.

Echo: ...and that's how I bring out what I bring out.

:sharp intake of breath

Jerron: And actually I'm just really interested in assigning legibility,

assigning a, a, a scholarship and a legacy of movement

to the things that have been called excess and been called too much.

You know they, they land in history, y'know.

:metallic chimes :alternate and flutter

:metallic booms alternating

:distorted sand pours over metal

:cavernous, echoing :pops and clicks

:marimba notes :flutter and overlap

:metal equipment clinks

Laurel:Wired is an experiment.

Wired is an experiment in, and for, disabled dancers.

So, in its very naming, Wired is meant to invoke

a sense of danger.

This idea --

that you could be harmed.

All dance requires emotional vulnerability on the part of the performers.

The ability on the part of the choreographer to cultivate and elicit vulnerability in the piece

and the ability on the part of the performers to offer and portray it.

:metal, rubber and skin :squeak in concert

:a voice: Steady.

Laurel: We are well trained; we are physically conditioned for exactly this work.

The moments that look risky? We craft those for you so carefully.

The moments that truly are risky -- that's often where we're hiding that vulnerability.

:overlapping marimba chimes

:overlapping marimba chimes :wooden hollow rhythmic clicking

:marimba chimes :continue overlapping

:metallic barbed wire :cracks against marley

:metallic crunches :against marley and fabric

Alice: The story ofWired is actually pretty simple.

Um.Wired came about because I was in the Whitney,

and I saw Melvin Edwards' "Pyramid Up and Down Pyramid,"

which, if you don't know the work of Melvin Edwards,

you absolutely have to go and find out about him.

And this is a barbed wire sculpture.

And it, I like, I turned the corner and I saw this and I was like, "Oh my god." My world just stopped.

And then, months passed while I read everything I could about barbed wire.

And I understood that

barbed wire as a technology,

is a border-enforcing technology,

and that it divides the ground, and it, you know

it divides us and them

and, I wanted to be able to take this into the notion of territory, and terrain,

and surface, and the air and, those things meshed in, you know,

those ways that kind of wei-- kind of wild stuff happens that's not really rational.

:metallic echoes :synthesizer chords :rhythmically build and descend

Alice: A-And then finally, we got to the studio; and we're like okay...

Here's the structure, here's the story, how do we begin to create?

:barbed wire wrapping :and resounding

:synthesizer chords continue :building and descending

:thud of hands on knees :barbed wire crackles against :marley floor

:hollow, rhythmic croak

Alice: Ready when you are. :offstage voice: I'm ready.

:deep, rich marimba chimes :alternating :hollow croaking, like a frog

Alice: I think the thing that's emerging that is maybe not clear

is that this is the present. :metallic clang of wheels

Alice: And that a new future is being born out of this present.

:hands slide :against marley floor

Alice: To say that this has been a lost year is actually not right.

I mean, it's been a reassess, reevaluate year.

Um. It's been a year of incredible personal growth.

:rubber wheels skid :across marley floor

Alice: Um, and personal failure.

Necessary part of growth.

Echo: So, I'm doing this...

Well, just a sec-- I'm not doing this...

We are doing this...

:hands sliding along marley :muted boom

Alice: We are doing this, because we have faith and trust and love for each other.

:deep marimba chimes :metal clicks of :equipment and wheelchair

:palms squeak across marley

Alice: Maybe it's a love for the body, it's a love for the wheelchair,

it's a love for disability, it's...

a love for movement, it's...

It's I-I, uh, I -- I don't know. It's all of those things, ehn.

:deep marimba notes chime :palms squeal

:rhythmic croak :sharp exhale through the mouth

Alice: So, it's really unclear where we are in the process, because different things are

in different places of development...

Echo: Some things are stabilized...

:mark clicks twice

:rope whines

Alice: It still feels rich and ripe with possibility;

um, it's not finished.

Echo: ...um, it's not finished...

:metallic rumble

:rope rubs quickly against metal

:distorted metal :school bell rings

Kate: :electronic voice So, wrapping up. Last question.

:deep hollow, metallic boom :rubber squeaks

:ocean roars

:calming synthesizer :notes resound

Kate: :electronic voice Why make dances?

Alice: I've always had stuff to say, um,

I've always wanted to be able to say it in movement.

So, I make dances, because

they seem to me now to be the most meaningful way

that I can understand the world that I live in,

my relationships to people, my --

It is the most powerful way

that I know to work through certain ideas.

Like, certain ideas I want to work through in writing,

but certain ideas can only be most fully realized in movement.

And those are very often questions that are just

critical, I think,

to making a better world.

:alternating synthesizer tones

:deep marimba chimes

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