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[Enter Wilderness, Location Unknown]… redux

At the beginning of this month I spent 9 days in Missoula, MT working with the dancers of Bare Bait Dance Company. The rehearsals over the week were a whirlwind, especially considering that I was also attending the first week of the Spring semester online; but I think the piece came out strong.

It was odd to reset this work. It was a piece I was making last year (before the pandemic, before I moved to Columbus). The original cast was an incredible group of five collaborators that I brought together in LA. It was a group of dance/performance artists, diverse in gender, ethnicity, and dance/performance style. We were exploring the idea of wilderness as a metaphor for navigating the unknown of our inner psyches. We used our collaborative making process as a place to work through very personal experiences. The piece is as much theirs as it is mine, and the performance of even ‘unison’ moments were nuanced and variant, person to person. The piece, [Enter Wilderness, Location Unknown] was set to premiere in LA in May of 2020. With the original cast’s permission, I had planned to set a shortened version of it on Bare Bait Dance Company in Missoula, MT later that month. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, our rehearsal process was cut short midway through March of 2020; and I moved away from LA before any of us were ready emotionally or psychologically to think about how to re-enter collaborative process together in the midst of covid19.

Because of the pandemic, the original version of [Enter Wilderness, Location Unknown] was never fully crafted or performed, and the original cast of collaborators who were integral to its making never had the opportunity to perform it. So this month, being flown to Missoula to return to this work, teaching it to a group of five white women, altering the choreography to be compliant with social distancing, adapting it to be filmed rather than live, and condensing months of making down into nine days of rehearsals was… disorienting. It’s not the piece that was bubbling up from within our making process. It’s something else. An adaptation. A distillation. An iteration. 

While I’m sure it’s clear that I have some disappointments about the elements from the original that were lost, and I that feel sadness for the missed opportunity to present it with the original cast, I do think that the piece it turned into this week came out strong, in its own way. It communicates something completely different now, in the midst of the pandemic. [Enter Wilderness, Location Unknown] centers around the theme of the psychological unknown. Within the process as well as the performance, we crafted scenarios that forced the performers to respond to the perceived dangers of a reality in consistent flux. Imagery of isolation, anxiety, risk, and protocol fatigue resonate with audiences in new entirely accessible ways within our current shared circumstances.

The show will be available on demand Jan. 22nd-31st, 2021. Tickets are $25 for general and $10 for students.

Available at this link:

Photography by Scotty Hsieh. Design by Mollie Wolf.

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