Friday, April 18, 2014

Dispatches from Urban Acrobatics Chicago Day 3 Performance Planning: Bodies that Can Move

Today was a day for idea development, discussion, and imagination. I spent most of the afternoon prepping the new wall for live painting, while Polly, Natalie Zombie, Werm, and youth from Alternatives worked together to brainstorm what tomorrow's performance will bring.

Crowding in together at one of the cafeteria-style tables in the main area, we discussed the goals of the project, to create interaction and collaboration between circus and graffiti styles, and solicited ideas from our participants.
Planning session, serious business. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce
The main conceit of the show is that everything starts out blank, either white or black, and gradually accumulates color and movement. Natalie does elaborate face-painting, and will painting performers' faces in an array of images including monster bunnies, monster chicks, and possibly a worm, among other animals and colors.
Young performers spellbound as Natalie describes potential face painting options. Alternatives, Inc. Photo credit: Caitlin Bruce
She suggested that as an extra challenge, she could do live face and body painting that will involve developing layers of spheres, splatters, and auras, color patterns that are evocative of 1980s old-school graffiti. She also offered to clown about, a comically obsessive graffiti clown, perhaps. Yesterday, Polly had led the youth in different human pyramid building exercises. I suggested that, similar to the formations used in Sao Paolo to make Pixaçoa style graffiti, performers could make a human ladder in order to life the top person to a higher plane of the temporary wall. Werm, who is also a rapper, will do live painting, rapping about graffiti, and also will collaborate with performers to create walls that run away, by painting on the costume of a performer as part of the canvas who will leave when done, leaving the wall partially exposed. Additionally, performers can play with the movement of graffiti writers to emphasize how graffiti is, in fact, a balletic composition between wall, writer body, and the paint.

Werm experimented a bit with circus equipment, helping us rig the fabric to the ceiling and climbing to the top, putting to use his writer skills of fearlessness in the face of great heights. He demonstrated some of the costume painting techniques on one of our young performer's plain black t-shirt.
Werm demonstrating his t-shirt painting skills. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce
"Werm." Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce
Kard and Jae helped me to put together one of our cellophane surfaces, a concept that we got from French writers Astro and Kanos, cellograff. Cellograff enables writers to paint in places where they wouldn't otherwise be invited, it is low impact, and ephemeral.

While I finished priming the wooden wall, Polly led our young circus performers as well as the intrepid Natalie in a series of movement exercises. She challenged them to come up with four pyramid formations that involved all six participants. The resulting formations were dazzling:

Traditional pyramid, hands and knees. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce
Standing pyramid. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce
Modified pyramic with hand stands. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce

Interlocking limbs formation. Alternatives, Inc. Photo Credit: Caitlin Bruce

With a traditional pyramid on hands and knees; a standing pyramid; a pyramid with enframing handstands; and a complex snowflake shaped formation of interlocking arms and legs our performers illuminated all the different ways in which bodies can move together to create images, team work and collaboration create shapes that are more than the sum of their parts.

You can see live painting, acrobatics, juggling, and rapping tomorrow at 4:00pm at Alternatives Inc. Come one, come all!

1 comment:

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