Frozen Baby: Inside the Process

Earlier this week, we brought our work Frozen Baby to Chez Bushwick, as part of our residency there. We thought we’d talk a little bit more about the thought processes behind the creation of the work.

 Frozen Baby at Movement Research at Judson Memorial Church.. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Frozen Baby at Movement Research at Judson Memorial Church.. Photo by Ian Douglas.

Diving into what the artistic impulse for Frozen Baby was, Artistic Director Kathleen Kelly speaks the inspiration behind it:

This solo stems out of investigations of how queerness, otherness, and blackness can all become imaginative catalysts within the body. It utilizes improvisational investigations to allow the performer to delve into the imaginative practice of creating a new body schema/score. A guiding question has been: how can the secret self bubble out?

We are specifically investigating how change happens through the process of imagination->desire->action. How can we change the way our body lives through a dedication to cultivating its imaginative potential? This practice comes with a recognition of our own subjectivity and identity and how that can be a mode of framing our physical imagination.

Our mode of working on the solo is driven by a deep engagement with improvisational development first. We are using a score that is rooted in a process of creating a new body schema that then leads all the physical actions.

What does this work feel like to performer? Our Managing Director, Bree Breeden offers some insight :

The piece is centered around forming a new body which as a performer is interesting. I feel as though I have a chance to erase insecurities, judgement and how society or the world at dance looks at me as a performer. I have a chance to form this new being and live within it in Frozen Baby. It is made of improvisational scores which adds another challenge on top of building a new body. I love this piece because I am not dancing as myself but as this new being that doesn’t have limits because it is new—it is being created right then and there in the moment. I made up this pod baby that grows into a glittered (velvetly blue glitter) winged mix of a dragon and decaying bird. Working on this solo has directly affected me not only as a performer and dancer but administratively as well. This is the sort of future forward thinking that I incorporate in Proteo as a dancer as well as managing director.

A major part of Frozen Baby are the video projections that align with the performer’s movement. Kathleen speaks more to the projection design:

In Frozen Baby, I am using a lot of natural, organic imagery that feels almost embryonic. In all my projection design, I like to use video samples of natural movement and manipulate it to make it feel both natural and yet kind of digitally eerie. The projections were made over the course of a week, but I keep tweaking them as the piece develops.

The first image is a video that I took at my grandparent’s home in North Carolina. It’s of water moving the sea grass in their backyard. I blurred it and digitally manipulated it to grow and shrink so that it feels almost like a pulsing planet. To me, it’s an image of life and beginnings.

The second image is from a video I took of myself dancing with a light in my mouth. I took the reflection of the light on the floor and turned it into something that almost looks like an x-ray. I like this image because it feels almost like a moving Rorschach test — you don’t know what it is, but you feel like you can almost name it.

The final image is one of cells dividing. This image is related to the title “Frozen Baby” in that it is something growing or developing but in a different or perhaps stunted way.

As I was developing the projections, I was thinking about the article “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid” by Rufi Thorpe. I was thinking about the ways in which women choose and navigate the reproductive process as artists, and the ways that art becomes a child to nurture, a process that can consume.

We have more Inside the Process posts coming soon, as Proteo Media looks toward a solo performance of SUGAR at the InHale Performance Series in PA on Oct 12!