There is no doubt that the arts community has been greatly affected by this pandemic. Not just the many struggling dance companies or Broadway unfortunately being placed on hold until the summer of 2021, but the young aspiring artists as well. The young artists in training are forced to take classes online in spaces that don’t have barres, marley floors, peers, or frankly space.
This past semester an online improvisation class was offered through the dance department. It was taught by Charli Brissey who is very well known for their creative dance concept videos. Online performing is a strength of theirs. Taking an online class with a professor who is comfortable with sharing dance through a screen adds a sense of ease to the students taking their class as well. For the final project Charli instructed the students to take the information that they had been writing and discussing about in class all semester and create an online submission- whatever they felt best represented what they had learned. The sky is the limit. Olivia Johnson created an online dance concept video that was extremely breathtaking. Olivia Johnson is a third year dance major originally from the suburbs of Los Angeles. I asked Olivia to explain her creative process and journey throughout this final project and I am pleased to share her video!
When beginning this final project what initial idea sparked your process?
“I was thinking a lot about my own identity and the way I express my gender, and I’ve been studying a lot of surrealist visual artists, performance artists, and photographers. During the era of surrealism and abstraction and a new form of composing and curating meaning in the 20th century, a lot of lovely figures were shape shifting and gender bending, using adornments of makeup and costume and lighting and facials and body language to make an entire story, argument.”
Were there any artists that helped guide you throughout this creative process?
“I was inspired by Claude Cahun, Frida Kahlo and Gladys Bentley, among so many other people, and the way they expressed themselves and their illustrious thoughts. This established a convention of flashing images and self-portraiture that I wanted to splice together, in contrast with a quite genderless me in public, wearing grey sweats.”
When editing your clips and movement what stuck out to you? How was the editing process?
“I wanted the experience to be a timeless void into my innate dialogues about how I like to express myself, my identity, because it changes by the day. And art is a lovely way to question and threaten the standardized, categorized way we express our genders, ourselves, so that we can open ourselves to new possibilities, new relationships, new creations, and boundless archetypes of thought and identity. This project was soaked in a lot of legacy and research, and contains a lot of doubt and contemplation about the ways in which we reflect nature and evolve, as it does itself. Disclosing your identity is not a single event, nor will it ever be!”