A Day in the Life of Launch Movement Experiment Collaborators

A Day in the Life of Launch Movement Experiment Collaborators
Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter

By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
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Published on November 12, 2015
Photo by Sam Polcer

Back in the Saddle At Triskelion Arts

site: unseen -- A Live Collaboration of Movement, Lighting, and Sound

November 14 - 15 at 8pm

Triskelion Arts

Tickets: $16; http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2031017


Under the soft glow of Andy Dickerson’s lighting design, dancer Rachel Mckinstry broods before shoving her hand into a metallic pocket book and removing a fistful of LED lights. Impulsively, she flings a flurry of illuminating discs across the stage. A moment later, Mckinstry frantically picks up the mess. And thus begins Launch Movement Experiment’s site: unseen. This opening, though, will never be recreated in the same way again.

Site: unseen is the culmination of an ongoing exploration between Dickerson, Mckinstry and musician Layton Weedeman. Since 2006, these artists have brought their respective crafts to a collaborative brand of structured improvisation. After years of dancing in staged repertory, Mckinstry was drawn to the practice, so she could, "make a mistake onstage and for it to be ok.”

Rachel Mckinstry in a black tank top broods with her arms outstretched. A light shines right on her.
Photo by Sam Polcer

In the beginning, Mckinstry found it challenging to communicate improvisational concepts — particularly ones constructed for movement — to her partners. To compensate, they devised a set of parameters. "We would live in a world with three choices: You could flow and do your idea; you could pause; or you could leave the idea,” she says.

Creating a cohesive work without choreographed movement, music, or lighting takes diligent practice. Launch Movement Experiment rehearses twice a week for hours at a time. “Everything starts from a personal storytelling perspective," says Dickerson. "We do solo studies where we purge what's going on in our own lives.” Their stories are often abstracted into a single idea or mood that the artists can draw upon in performance.

These meetings are essential for their process, even amidst life-changing circumstances. This past spring, Dickerson became a proud father of twins. Meanwhile, Mckinstry was recovering from a serious back injury, which led the trio to cancel their May performances. But these events gave way to a silver lining. Dickerson says, “We dug deeper into each section of site. It completely transformed into a different piece.”

Despite these changes, they met even when Mckinstry couldn’t dance. Instead, she served as an outside eye to her partners’ lighting and sound interactions. Mckinstry’s new perspective allowed them to recognize what site: unseen “really needed” to evolve. “Each of our actions affects one another, and it takes an open mind and awareness to fully feel the ebb and flow of our work,” Weedeman says. “Usually the best practice for us is meditation, and observing the power of silence before expressing a sound, movement, or light.”

Mckinstry is in half shadow under the revolving disco ball's reflection
Photo by Sam Polcer

The trio expresses confidence in one another to make engaging choices. "A lot comes down to trust. It may feel good to you, but, in reality, it may not actually be that interesting any more," says Dickerson. “You rely on the other people to give you subtle cues whether an idea is working or not."

Since developing an improvisational collaboration, Mckinstry has discovered that audience members are more willing to share their feelings. She says, “Maybe because we’re failing and winning at the same time together, the audience feels that they have more freedom to explore.”

Note: site: unseen will share their evening performances with artist Vanessa Walters. For more info, go to Triskelion Arts.






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