FOUR YEARS AGO THE FUTURE: WE BUILT YOU THIS TIME MACHINE AND CHANGE IS MESSY BUT SOMEHOW FROM THE CELLS WE WERE AND IMAGINAL POSSIBILITY WE ARE BECOMING SOMETHING NEW
This performance was a commissioned new work for the Ten Tiny Dances series, where all performances must take place on a 4’ x 4’ stage. As we explored the 4’ x 4’ stage and the number four, we realized a lot had gone down in our lives personally (as well as nationally and globally) in the past four years, and we wanted to build a time machine cocoon that would allow us to share our particular experiences from the past four years and liquefy them through movement, allowing us to collectively imagine our way into new possibilities for the future, beyond what any of our individual experiences could do.
As research, we collaboratively wrote and danced our way into the number four. We tried to build an invisibility cloak. We dove deep (30,000 years) into the history of the location of the performance and investigated butterfly metamorphosis.
Logistically, we asked participants to fill out two poem-surveys. One asked: “Briefly, where were you four years ago? Physically, emotionally, in your life, and / or relate one specific memory.” The second one asked: “Briefly, what is one hope or prediction you have for the future? Consider the long view: in 400 years? 4,000 years? 40,000 years?” We also offered the following “Imaginal Cells Meditation” as context:
“When a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, within the chrysalis the old form completely dissolves, becoming a kind of cellular caterpillar soup. From the messy soup, previously dormant “imaginal cells” start to develop the first idea of radical future form. The first imaginal cells to appear are often killed by the former caterpillar’s immune cells, the old self believing it is being attacked. But eventually the imaginal cells prevail, working at first in isolation and eventually together, and a new butterfly form emerges from what was. (Interestingly, studies have also shown that the new being does retain some learned lessons from its early form.) What are you ready to dissolve?”
As part of the performance itself, we created a collective poem at the beginning of all of our memories from the past four years. We then entered a shared vulnerable and liquified state through mirrored dance on the tiny stage and within an original sound composition by Sonia Monet Saxon. Tenderly we helped one another strip to our guts, performed a kind of haruspicy, and then united as imaginal cells, reading all our collective future possibilities as a final collaborative poem.