LucidBeings Dance and Slant Light Poets were set to take the stage at Frederick’s Sky Stage this weekend for an evening of poetry and dance.

Well, the pandemic put a wrench in the Sky Stage part of the plan, but the two groups are still collaborating virtually and you can still watch (for free!) via Zoom.

Franki Graham, the artistic director of LucidBeings, recently answered some questions via email about the performance.

Can you tell me a little bit about the upcoming online performance of Interior Monologues that LucidBeings Dance is hosting with Slant Light Poets?

Graham: At its heart, Interior Monologues is a collaboration of poetry and dance. Faced with a directive from the government to stay-at-home during what would be our intensive preparation and rehearsal period for a scheduled show at Sky Stage of Frederick this summer, we decided to allow the circumstances to guide our creative process and product instead. With the support of Skystage we chose to move our performance online, which lets us still engage with the Frederick community, but also showcase area artists more broadly!

The end result was a reimagined collaboration of movement and dance inspired by the emotional resonance of our lived spaces. The artists brought their crafts to the personal and often private spaces of their homes, blurring the lines of private and public spaces we all experience. The dancers, in particular, have invited the audience into their homes for this project, as each of the dances takes place in a particular room that speaks to the specific poem. In keeping with the nature of live performance, each dance is filmed from a point of view that an audience member could actual inhabit, so the focus of the performance remains on the content and not necessarily on film as a medium. For each of the dances, the accompanying poem is read by the poet, with video footage actually taken at Sky Stage last week. The compilation of these two elements will allow audiences to experience the words and movement in a rich and exciting way.

How many people are in the show and how have you been practicing with social distancing?

Graham: There are 4 poets (William Derge, Nichole Dowlearn, Wayne Drozynski, and Mickie Kennedy) and five dancers (Shianne Antoine, Brooklyn Draper, Franki Graham, Alex J. Krebs, and Catherine Webbert) who are participating in this project. We have held every rehearsal and meeting virtually, and in many ways this has allowed more opportunities for meaningful collaboration since resources like rehearsal space and commute times are not an obstacle when working online. Our meetings have been incredibly inspiring as we have been having deep conversations about the intention of the poetry, what we see as the voice of the poem, and how the movement can relate or add meaning in some way. The artists’ voices come through strongly in the final product for each poem as we have been truly present in this creative process together. And, in fact, the virtual format of the performance allowed us to work with dancers in Maine and Montana as well!

What were the biggest challenges in transitioning from a live performance to an online one?

Graham: The most prevalent challenge in transitioning online would have to be our necessary reliance on technology throughout this process. For this process, all of our communication has had to happen through email or video chat, meaning we are spending hours in front of our screens with many opportunities for miscommunications! We have also experienced a steep learning curve in working with new technology, but I am very proud of how resilient everyone has been in learning new programs and software.

Additionally, the shift in our rehearsal space has made embodying movement and working together on choreography more challenging within this process. As dancers we rely heavily on our kinesthetic intelligence in three-dimensions, and this is minimized when we rehearse through a screen that experiences delays, is dependent on Wi-Fi, and is two-dimensional. Not to mention that our living spaces are not designed for the level of dancing we are used to, and pets and family members often inadvertently become a part of our rehearsal process. However, despite the challenges, I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to stay together as a community during this time, and the focus on this project has helped keep us all motivated and engaged in our artistic practices.

Other than the fact that it is going to be performed online, what are the biggest differences between Interior Monologues and last year’s similar performance, Embodiment?

Graham: Last year Embodiment was such an exciting project because we didn’t know what the possibilities were yet! It was our first time having the dancers and poets collaborate and we were still learning about each other as artists and people during the process.

This year, we were able to dive head first into the project as collaborators with a level of trust and understanding that we didn’t necessarily have at the beginning of the process last year. I think because of this we were able to have more dialogue about the editing process, give opinions more freely, and have a much fuller creative process this go around. I think the level of complexity involved in the creation of Interior Monologues would not have been possible without first laying the foundation we did in the creation of Embodiment.

How can people watch the performance?

Graham: People can join the Watch Party of the pre-recorded performance at 7 p.m. [Friday], June 19, by filling out a simple registration form found on the LucidBeings Dance (www.lucidbeingsdance.com) or Sky Stage (www.skystagefrederick.com) websites. Registered patrons will receive a Zoom link to the performance on the morning of the event.

After the performance, audience members are invited to stay for a talkback with the artists.

What other projects are you working on, either live or virtual?

Graham: We are currently in conversations with other local artists about projects coming up for this next year. The uncertainty of the pandemic has changed the course of a few scheduled performances that we are hopeful will be rescheduled in the coming year. We encourage you to follow us on social media and/or join our mailing list to stay up to date on all things LucidBeings!

LucidBeings Dance is so grateful to the Frederick Arts Council for supporting this project financially through the 2020 Frederick Arts Council Community Arts Developments Funds.

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