all at once everything shifts, slowly.

A blog post by Jessica de Leon

The process of dance-making for fcdc always begins with an idea, if you can even call it that. Often, it’s amorphous; a feeling or experience one of our collaborators has been contemplating. As we begin to discuss and flesh out this vague, undefined concept, more often than not we discover a universality about it. We may not all relate to or even define the idea in the same way, but we inevitably are able to draw inspiration from it. And the process changes and evolves with each project we tackle. This summer, with a seasoned group of collaborators, we embarked on an exploration of survival.

I hear sirens.
Can anyone see me?
I am no stranger to death.
This will be what defines me.
I survived.

The concept of survival is instinctual, primal. We do whatever it takes to continue existing; fighting against all odds and bearing the unbearable. But how are we changed by the experience?

The concept of survival is something that Claire has been thinking about since her first trip to Nicaragua in 2009. Welcomed into the homes of a community that was displaced by Hurricane Mitch, and re-built from the ground up, Claire found the stories of survival, resilience, and compassion towards each other inspiring.

Since then, Claire has been compelled to dig deeper into thinking about how humans use community to overcome adversity. Joining Claire on her third trip to Nicaragua this past spring to work with our friend Katie Fitzgerald, who is the founder of Teatro Catalina, a program that teaches theater and builds community in the rural village of Villa Catalina near Chinandega. I had the privilege of bearing witness to that community of people who managed not only to survive tragedy but who learned to thrive and find hope, even in the worst of circumstances.

Armed with the idea of “survival”, Claire engaged the seven fcdc collaborators involved in this project in numerous discussions. We shared stories, abstract discussions of “survivor”  characters, and listened to each other’s definitions of what it means to survive. We let all of that inspire movement explorations. We created poetry. Some of us simply wrote down what we’ve personally survived.

And that is where our signature “democratic dance-making” process began. With a wealth of movement and text to draw from, we worked collaboratively to start piecing bits together.  Carefully layering and massaging and weaving together our survival stories. Sometimes they were dissonant. Other times, poignantly similar. The structure of this piece is admittedly unconventional and is the result of letting the subject matter dictate everything from the movement to the partnerships to the timing.

all at once everything shifts, slowly. is the first iteration of fcdc’s exploration of this subject matter. We are looking forward to the continued work of sifting through this material over the next year, letting it grow and transform. This is just the beginning of a larger project but we are excited to share the beginning stages of this journey with an audience on September 18 at 8:00pm at Z Space as a part of the 25th Anniversary of the West Wave Dance Festival, produced by SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts.