POSTCARDS: Jody Oberfelder Projects Makes a Splash at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London
Stories of a Short Spring Tour Across The Pond
It's always wonderful to hear what our dance community is up to at home or on tour. When Jody Oberfelder told The Dance Enthusiast that she was off to London create site-specific performances at the Victoria and Albert Museum, we wanted to know more. We are thrilled that she decided to share her artistic journey with us in diary form. — Christine Jowers, Founding Editor of The Dance Enthusiast.
JODY OBERFELDER PROJECTS :
April 15, 2022
Arrived in London. Super beautiful and warm spring day. Everything is blossoming and everyone is outside taking in the bank holiday vibe pre-Easter. I checked into my AirBnB in the Notting Hill area. I packed too much. I always find this going on tour. The mash up of dance rehearsal clothes, dress up, and practical tops and bottoms, plus costumes are a lot to cart around. I’m not exactly a grey/black/beige person, but after carting the suitcases up and down the tube stairs, I have made a vow to edit more next time.
Best thing for jet lag: be physical and get sunlight.
I head out on my first day and meet a fellow biker Paula, a 28-year- old from Latvia. While renting a bike, she gave me a tour of Hyde Park and I took her to the V&A. It was amazing to see the John Madejski Gardens, our site for our performances, full of people. I spent a long while watching kids, and some cool adults, play in the pool where we'll be performing. I noticed the ripple patterns they make, and the synchronicity of traveling together. I love meeting people while traveling.
A super focused rehearsal day for Maya Orchin, Andrew Sanger, and I, full of partnering inventions. We call this move Jet Ski because we’re performing in the John Madejski Gardens at the V&A. This move has a funny story behind it. I was at a dinner party with friends and told them we will be performing at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the John Madejski Garden pool. They all heard “jet ski pool”. So here is a "jet ski fly. "
Oh, it is so good to be in the studio with Maya , Christopher Matthews, and Andrew . I arrived frazzled as, apparently, my phone slipped out of my pocket. After a frantic shuttle back to Putney, I found that some good samaritan had turned it in.
Lost, and found.
It’s amazing how we depend on our devices. I’d be lost, literally, without my phone. Thank you to this stranger.
We capped off the day by attending an opening of Charlotte Birnbaum’s gorgeous sculptures at the Gallery of Everything ,and all went to the after-party, meeting fabulous people from the international art world, living here in London. Longer conversations, not just snippets.
Are Americans always in a hurry?
Jody Oberfelder and crew; photo by Simon Burrill
Super productive day with the guest dancers from the Laban School. Great to finally meet these talented dancers, in the flesh: Maya Tadeka, Kate Page, and Rohen Duphar. We’d only seen one another on Zoom.
I’ve been doing a thing where I interview people first to see if we click. If they are open to my ideas and process, I choose them. I sure found the right people (thanks also to Heni Hale, from Independent Dance, who sourced these amazing movers.)
Maya Orchin, Jody Oberfelder, Kate Page; photo by Peter Lally
We were offered four days on site at the V&A. The first night there was freezing cold, we only got in the pond up to our ankles . It ended up that we had to rehearse in the fabulous Raphael Cartoon Room.
The best thing about our “Night at the Museum” was exiting the museum, in pitch-black down the ceramic staircase, lit only by the curator’s iPhone flashlight.
I felt all these spirits leaping in the dark.
My journal entry in handwriting, as I prep for rehearsal.
Think about how we make marks in time...
waves of good will
saving the planet
What does your fountain spout?
Would you like to drink from it?
Andrew Sanger, Maya Takeda, Maya Orchin, Rohan Dhupar, and Jody Oberfelder; photo by Peter Lally
Reading about the war in Ukraine every morning before rehearsal, I am struck with the feeling of, on one hand, helplessness -- that I’m not able to save people’s lives or conquer a dictator -- but on the other hand, my dominant hand -- I believe, we have agency to put something in the world that offers an exchange, a chance to immediately give, to respond and enter into dialogue.
Splash Dance makes a joyful ripple in time. Its contemplative moments give us a chance to be with you, to be porous. Its rambunctious moments are hopeful, playful, wondrous.
Rohan Dhupar, Christopher Matthews, Maya Orchin, Kate Page, Andrew Sanger, and Maya Takeda; photo by Peter Lally
I was too busy to write, and that’s a good thing!
Thoughts on London:
people are more polite.
They don’t blurt.
There are more green spaces. Gorgeous parks and squares open to the public.
Speaking of public, great pubs, the name I learned is derived from public gathering spaces.
UK Citi bikes are well maintained (I brought my own folding helmet) and the e-bikes faster.
THE PERFORMANCE :
The show was fantastic.
We performed “SPLASH DANCE” twice, to full crowds.
Some audience members were "in-the-know" and came to see the festival. But some just happened upon us while crossing the courtyard. I feel we made an impact, rather, a ripple in time, as was our theme. Before the show started, we took time to talk with people sitting down on the grass, or milling around.
“Wow, look at the way the wind is creating ripples on the water?”
“Do you think we as humans make a ripple in time?”
“Do we leave a trace?”
Then the first piece of music starts. (Ethel: Ralph Ferris’ Wreck’d)
We looped in and around the audience, we stepped in and out of the pool making wet footprint patterns. It feels good to work with a piece of music and plot the dance along its map. It’s a luscious piece by Smetana about the River Moldau. I’d heard it on the radio when I was in Detroit and stopped to Shazam.it.
I have enjoyed marking out the music with colored pens, and it’s been a beautiful process -- a different color for each musical theme. I have chosen not to Mickey-Mouse the music, but treat it as a beautiful, luscious terrain. The Moldau is a winding river. We are riding the river of sound, sometimes swimming upstream or dotting it, and SPLASHING!
Maya Orchin; photo by Peter Lally
The museum had added about 4” more water into the fountain than we’d rehearsed with. It was almost comical how much more effort it took to move ( trudge) and dance with the water’s resistance
Some profound responses. Interconnecting circles, metaphysics, quantum mechanics.
Our work happened and we left our traces: joyfully, with reverence and irreverence.
Proud we were in our water shoes, and elegant costumes by Katrin Schnabl. We met such wonderful people.
The team of curators was so supportive; it will be wonder to come back with the full piece “Walking to Present (London)
Resting on laurels, except they were smooth pebbles on the beach. James and the Giant Peach scene, clouds voluminous and ever-changing. Light rain. Fish and chips by the shore. Twisty little streets. Slow day. AirBnB one night. 40% off because of scaffolding. Funny to see the construction workers at 8 am outside my window. No matter. Spent the day outside. Brought my novel for the train ride. Finished it.
Went to the Tate upon arrival back in London. Amazing show by Luibana Himad, and an exhibition on performance, with Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A on the monitor. We’re still doing Trio A!! My whole dance career has been influenced by the Judson people.
Met Maya, Andrew, and Chris for fancy cocktails. Stayed with Chris the last night.
Covid test at the airport. And home again.
Not feeling a post-performance drop. That’s because I have another project in a month. Some of this material will fold into it. I love how one process feeds the next.
Hope to see you at “Walking to Present (Brooklyn) on Friday June 3, 2022
Originally commissioned by DANCE München Festival (where we’ll perform May 2023!) this iteration of Walking to Present, moves from the Center for Brooklyn History into Cadman Plaza and the Brooklyn War Memorial. How are we living, breathing momentary monuments? How do we imprint time as we move through history?
To RSVP, visit the following links: Please reserve on the BPL website.
5:45 pm https://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/jody-oberfelder-projects-center-for-brooklyn-20220604-0[FC1]
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