Winter 2021 In Dance

so starting in July, we began rehearsing outdoors, masked and socially distanced – it was really affirming and actu- ally felt very normal, even though we were in masks and not touching one another.” They knew some sections, like solos, were doable within safety protocols, while others would need to be re-worked in light of these new condi- tions. At first, the notion of changing things, especially parts that had been set for some time, seemed a bit daunt- ing, but the creative journey proved both revelatory and powerful. New artistic lenses and a deeper narrative layer began to emerge amidst the constraints. “ The Farallon- ites is all about isolation; no one was together – needing to rehearse in the way we had to – drove this point home; we were able to discover new insights within the chore- ography,” describes Lawton. In the open air, they could feel the breeze and wind informing arm movements and torso undulations. They were able to take rehearsals to the beach and had the chance to see how the material

for a full house.”With traditional indoor venues off the table for the time being, The Farallonites ’ fate was unclear. Suddenly, a new opportunity arose. In a Kensington backyard, amidst statuesque redwoods, a stunning, pri- vate outdoor amphitheater stood. A stage surface, lights, seating – the whole nine yards! And it belongs to Danny Scher, who is a former colleague of DLD company mem- ber Robin Nasatir. Scher graciously offered up the space, and on October 3, DLD was able to share excerpts of The Farallonites with a small live audience, while adher- ing to the strictest of safety protocols. “Seeing the work in a natural setting was really quite something, as was the fact that people showed up,” Lawton remembers, “it was a moment to recognize the power of community, and the intense appetite for art, while being as safe as we could possibly be.” DLD is not currently in rehearsal, though the com- pany plans to re-group in March. The hope is by then

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At first, the notion of changing things, especially parts that had been set for some time, seemed a bit daunting, but the creative journey proved both revelatory and powerful.

changed when performed in actual water. And the duality of being together and being apart at the same time took on new meaning. A subsequent conversation with a friend led Lawton to also consider newness along another track in the rehearsal process. She suggested that Lawton’s son Henry, an avid skateboarding vlogger, might film and create vlogs of DLD as they continued building The Farallonites . Not dance film, but more a chronicle of process. While DLD has worked with video and projection in performance, this type of documentarian approach was something new for them. And they were all eager to see what might be cap- tured. The resulting footage (available on Dana Lawton Dances’ Facebook page) is full of rich commentary and striking visuals - from choreographic phrases to conver- sations with the dancers to moments of discovery, exper- imentation and real-time trial and error. The genuineness and authenticity in every frame is undeniable, and as I watched each film, the impulse to move with the dancers was so strong. At that point in the year (summer), a November pre- miere of The Farallonites at the Cowell was still a possibil- ity. No one knew what fall might bring. But as September arrived, it became obvious that the work was not going to see a theater in 2020. For Lawton and DLD, that decision was both about safety and monetary realities: “a lower capacity, distanced audience, assuming that was even pos- sible, just doesn’t work for our budget – we need to strive

that The Farallonites ’ next step might be clearer. “With its atmosphere and immersive location on the water in Fort Mason, I still have dreams of the piece on the Cow- ell stage, but who knows when and if that will happen, and where all the company dancers might be at that time,” shares Lawton. It could be months; it will prob- ably be years. Though when that moment does come, Lawton knows it’s going to epic, for The Farallonites , for the larger artistic community, and for humanity, “I don’t really know what will be the same and what will be dif- ferent when this is all over, but I think we can anticipate that the desire for virtual life will greatly diminish and it will be replaced by a tremendous renaissance in and hun- ger for live experiences.” 1 Excerpt is taken from an article I wrote for In Dance titled Lights That Guide: Dana Lawton Dances presents The Farallonites – it was intended to be printed as part of In Dance ’s April 2020 edition, but due to COVID, The Farallonites performance was postponed.2 Ibid.

HEATHER DESAULNIERS is a freelance dance writer based in Oakland. She is the Editorial Associate and SF/Bay Area columnist for CriticalDance, the dance curator for SF Arts Monthly, a contributor to DanceTabs as well as several other dance-focused publications.

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In Dance | May 2014 |

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