"Creation Story" Part 6 - FINAL!
Patrons! Here is my update on the dance for film. Just a note: I will always have a numerical indication of the chronology of posts in the title in case you need to go back. Also, you can search tags for Creation Story to see only posts about this project.
I am just tickled to be able to finally share with you the final version of Creation Story. You of all people, know that this process was long, intense, full of ups and downs. But the creative process is what I enjoy the most and was such a welcome challenge/pursuit during this experience.
A lot happened since I checked in with you last (wow, I couldn't have imagined the intensity I would feel within the months before and after her birth - which left me little room for anything else). So this will be a long post.
When I started creating I loosely planned to have the piece be in three sections (relating to the three trimesters of pregnancy). The last post on this project was at the end of the second section moving into my last trimester. This is at about 3min 47sec of the video. As accurately as possible I was trying to follow the emotional experience of pregnancy. Throughout the second trimester life was hectic, I was busy trying to figure out how to set up my business (Dance Wire) for some sort of maternity leave. I felt like I was racing at every turn, and yet so exhausted from pregnancy. Things continued to build and build and build until one dark rainy night, on the way home from a long day at work followed by a board meeting, I got in a car accident. No one was hurt, but I was rattled and realized that I needed to slow down. While I genuinely care about my work, it was instantly clear how foolish it was to get caught up in it. Suddenly, my life felt more fragile because I was carrying a tiny life inside of me, that was directly impacted by me and my decisions. The movement at 2min and 42 sec represents the week of my accident. The following few weeks represent my attempts to slow down and manage my expectations of what I could accomplish.
Choreographically this created for an interesting challenge. With a full trimester to go the piece felt like it already had a slow build up, peak and resolution - a completed arc. But I was once again reminded that the inability to craft, edit, and overthink is exactly where the beauty of this piece exists. It's raw, it's real.
Before moving into the final section I wrote the last section of lyrics which would become my guide for the movement.
Don't lose yourself
Try to be kind
Open your mind
Let new light shine
Let new life shine
For me these lyrics express the difficulty of having my body taken over during pregnancy, the fear of how life will change with a new little one, yet the call to be open to change without losing a sense of self.
For the final section I chose to play with the camera angle again, and planned to inch it closer and closer ultimately closing in on my belly. That was both to keep it visually more dynamic, while also representing the closing in on my due date. The lead up to the actual birth felt excruciatingly drawn out and the 39th week was a complete blur which I represented quite literally. She was born day one of exactly 40 weeks (on her due date).
The final shot of me dancing with Coral was not what I had planned. I envisioned the camera angle going back to where it was at the beginning, and me curled around her, both of us in fetal position. Alas, when I started filming that image didn't look how I wanted it to and more importantly Coral wasn't having it. Every time I would try to get in position she would cry frantically (she was only one week old). I tried a number of other "choreographed" scenarios and none of them worked. The dancing footage that made the final cut was the "real life" moment of me swaying with her, singing to her and trying to get her calmed down for the shoot. There were minor imperfections of that footage and I even tried to recreate it the following week, but in the end, the original take was the one that felt the most genuine and fitting.
The final element to conclude the piece was recording the sound score. As with the first half, I danced in silence while creating the videos, and then Stephanie, my collaborator, improvised while watching the edited video. We met at my friend Ben's recording studio and only had a few hours to complete the score. I had listened to the rough recording Stephanie and I had done so many times that I was quite attached to every detail of it. In the recording studio, when little things changed, her inflection was different, the timing was slightly different etc. I had trouble adjusting.
Then there were the new lyrics and final section. While I wrote the lyrics, I had little other direction to give her. In my mind, the whole point of working with collaborators in other areas of expertise is that they use that expertise to enhance the work. Her first take with the final lyrics went in a very different direction though. Suddenly there was a new, fast paced, almost bluesy melody. Inherently I knew that was not what I was looking for and it didn't seem to match with the rest of the score. So I asked her to try something slower that conveyed more of a sense of internal struggle. After the second take (again all improvised), both Andy and I had tears in our eyes. I resisted the urge to use that as a base and refine and sharpen it more. I felt something, so changing it in any way would risk losing that.
I then had one more meeting with Ben to adjust the levels of the crystal bowls and heartbeat, add some strategically placed gong sounds and finalize the track. Note: the heartbeat is quite faint on any device (laptop or phone) without much bass, so if possible hook it up to better speakers when you watch.
Well, that is all folks. ENJOY! -- And thank you so much for going on this journey with me! Not only was the creation of the piece incredible, I am grateful that I had a reason to record this creative process in writing as well.