Pandemic Dance Making

Xin Ying. Work by Gwen Welliver. Photo by Maria Baranova.

Year: 2022-2023
DanceForce Member: Toni Smith
Artist: Gwen Welliver
Community Partner: Baryshnikov Studios
Audience: 2,200
Counties: Kings, New York, Rensselaer

“Pandemic Dance Making” came about as a response to the desire to witness the process of a choreographer making new work when artists are prohibited from meeting in person.  A project from the previous year (2021/22) “Extending the Reach” became a “planning” period that evolved into “Pandemic Dance Making”.  Choreographer Gwen Welliver found new ways of working when conventional studio rehearsals were not possible due to Covid 19.  Her collaborators – Sean Donovan (physical actor improviser), Dedrick Gray (street and hip hop), and Xin Ying (contemporary Graham dancer) – agreed to be videoed in their homes, as a tactic to develop embryonic dance material.  Never having met each other, ever, the three performers met individually with Gwen Welliver on Zoom in their separate domiciles.  Welliver documented each of her collaborators separately exploring an improvisational score.  Approximately 5 months later, safety protocols permitted a one week residency at the Baryshnikov  studios during which the three performers, videographer Iki Nakagawa, and sound designer Jake Meginsky  met in person for the first time.  Gwen Welliver and the three “home” improvisers convened to create more material together as the videographer and sound designer also created material.  A dialogue developed over Zoom with DF Member Toni Smith and French videographer Laura Gary to find a way of capturing the emerging work on video for the world to see.  Laura Gary is creating a video document that is designed to capture the “lost in person” time and the choreographer’s mandated “new approach” and discoveries that emerged due to circumstantial pandemic limitations.