WARDROBE BUILDING AND UNFOLDING
The wardrobe for this specific performance was inspired by the Black Live Matter's protests occurring nationwide in June 2020. The elements utilized for these costumes and setting were reflective of the collective mental health during this time of extreme racial divide. Feelings of anger, confusion, fear, sadness and continued separation swept our collective and individual energies. What we saw was the creation of deeper narratives of estrangement: how groupings or "types" of people were supposed to feel vs. how the individual actually felt. Furthering the us vs. them mentality, we witnessed a further crumbling of societal cohesion, while simultaneously seeing the institutional systems of power lose more control.
The white lab coats - used as a canvas for protest slogans - emphasized the desperate need for individual and collective voices to be heard. The coat symbolized the control and dominate oppressive nature of the institutional systems that we continue to allow to control us, while also maintaining individual expressions of pain, anger and wake up calls to the collective. While for many individuals this extreme social chaos represented a continued devolution of togetherness, love, hope, generosity, kindness and overall respect for every individual's autonomy - it also created a time in which humanism reached new heights.
These parallel timelines of extreme disconnection and extreme connection is what opened the floor for this Healing Zones performance to thrive in existence. It was clear there was a need for individual expression in a safe and comforting space within our community. In collaboration, Meredith Yuhas, Yuhas & Dancers, Jai-Anna Carter, Nic Jenkins and Kiber Selig created an outdoor pop-up performance behind Outpost Art Space inviting the public to witness a different kind of protest. Here, dancers moved with aggressive and beautiful agility - professing pain, sorrow, and heartache with the need to deliver their emotions through visual displays of expressions. Once this performance ended - the artists, dancers and public were invited to share their truths in a circle without judgment or fear - but with the love and understanding that we all need connection and we all need someone to listen to us as we process the unfolding of our own realities.
Creative Process for coats: All fabrics and jackets were second hand. The white lab coats were authentic medical coats. The patches were recycled denim from vintage jeans. The slogans were hand-painted with acrylics. The reoccurring heart and tree image was an original piece co-created by artist Nic Jenkins and Kiber Selig and screen printed onto denim.
This second Healing Zones performance came about with the idea to expand the first performance and create more spaces for safe healing and expression. The artists created the "I Am A Vehicle" series out of desire to share with the community that any space can be deconstructed to exist as a microcosm of infinite meaning and possibility. The idea started from the concept of using metered parking spaces (in the downtown Columbia, SC area) as an open space to host dance performances. The dancers would become vehicles of whatever they wanted to be - change, collective consciousness, harmony, connectivity, peace, power, hope, equality, etc. By doing this, the goal was to remove the traditional spacial narrative and rewrite it as just another realm to exist in as any form or body.
The performance was set up as a series of 3 performances over the span of 3 days. Each performance was in a different location in Columbia and the dancers utilized public space such as parking spots, sidewalks in front of coffee shops, open patio space at a farmers market, windows and open streets near by businesses. The goal was to utilize the same performance routine however due to its live nature with the sound design and different physical spacial capabilities - the performances were slightly ever evolving.
The wardrobe and set up involved the color scheme of lavender, kelly green and marigold orange. The colors were chosen to represent peace and unity, love and togetherness and the ever evolving growth within nature. The dancers and all artists involved wore lavender and neutral t-shirts with screen printed design that said I AM A VEHICLE on the front, and HEALING ZONES on the back. They also wore purple or white pants, and some wore purple blazers in the beginnings of the piece. There were flowers that were physically planted in cups and handed to members of the audience, symbolizing the connection of planting new seeds - new narratives - new meanings within our community and individual realities. Dancers also utilized spray painted electric cords alongside their movements to emphasize the cutting of old cords and rewiring of new ones. In accompaniment there was live pre-recorded sound design from one of the artists, Nic Jenkins - along with live percussion and sound from Rodney Bean, Gabe Crawford, Rob Littlejohn, and Lee Garrett. In addition to all of this - the element of scent was included. Shavon Odom and Amber Debnam customized incense for each performance. There were three types of scents for the three phases of the performance. This gave the audience another element to pair with the visual and aural stimulations of the experience and to really ground themselves in the here and now of the performances.
CREATIVE PROCESs for t-shirts: The t-shirt designs were designed by Kiber Selig and the screen printing was done by Nic Jenkins and Kiber Selig. For the front, the I AM A VEHICLE design was hand drawn and transferred over to a digital software where it was mildly edited and then printed on transparency paper. From there it was burned into a screen for ten minutes under a heat lamp, and then washed out. What remained was the design to print on the shirts. The colors of the shirts were grays, beiges and lavenders. The ink that was used was green screen printing ink. On the back, helvetica font was used to print on transparency the name of the series, HEALING ZONES, using the same screen printing process. Each dancer and artist involved in the preparation and performances wore these shirts in solidarity.