Carousel is a choreographic collaboration with a group of professional dancers from the tri-state area.  Collaborating with the dancers, we devised choreography drawing from the interdisciplinary techniques formulated from the SAC method.  These methods combined visual arts and choreography.  At our initial rehearsal, dancers painted 2 x 4 canvases, adding swipes and splashes of color to the white clothing I gave them for costumes.  As subsequent rehearsals unfolded, we contemplated the ideal filming location for our piece.  I introduced an image of a vintage carousel in Asbury Park to the group.  Charly nostalgically mentioned her dream of dancing there.  The entire group felt it was the perfect backdrop.  While I attempted to gain access to the carousel's interior, my efforts were unsuccessful.  Consequently, we captured our performance outside, leading me to title our film Carousel.  The title of the screendance was inspired by more than just its filming location near an old carousel.  It goes deeper into the meaning of the carousel and its parallels with the process of designing the choreography as well as filming dance for the camera. 

A carousel is a universally recognizable object.  Its distinct shape and whimsical nature transport riders to a different world.  Each carousel, though similar in form, boasts a variety of creatures designed for amusement.  An integral part of the carousel experience is the unpredictability.  You never know when the ride will end, which direction you'll be facing when it stops, or the view you'll be met with once you disembark.  This is often different from the scene you first saw upon getting on.

This carousel analogy resonates deeply with the dance projects I've undertaken.  Each involves participants with bodies that, like carousels, may look similar but carry their own unique stories and interpretations.  When these participants create a painting, they are often amazed by the resulting blend of colors.  Just as every painting serves as a guide for the dance, every carousel creature offers a unique ride.  For every project, I provide a set structure or formula, allowing participants the space to have their own personal experiences.  Rather than dictating every move, I let them interpret the guidance of the painting and make their own choreographic choices.  It's their decision how the dance takes shape.

Every time I undertake a new project, there's a sense of mystery and unpredictability.  Just as one doesn't know which carousel creature they'll ride or the view they'll have when the ride ends, I enter each project unsure of its outcome.  I can't predict which ‘creature’ or style a participant will choose or the final visual outcome of the dance both in person and on film.

But therein lies the beauty.  The process of presenting participants with mediums, canvases, and movement prompts and watching them craft a dance is reminiscent of a carousel. It’s cyclical and unpredictable, yet it offers a structure and a familiar form.  So, the experience of choreographing and creating a screendance is like riding a carousel in that it offers a blend of structure and spontaneity, familiarity, and surprise.

June 2022