When the pandemic closed theaters around the world in early 2020, many dance artists asked: how do we translate performance from the stage to the screen?
Frustrated by the limitations of performances placed on platforms such as YouTube or Zoom, together artists Heidi Latsky and Maya Man decided that rather than translating from stage to screen, they would instead create a dance experience that, from the beginning, was choreographed to be viewed on a computer screen.
The result is Recessed, a dance-driven, interactive performance staged in the Internet browser, the space through which most of our interactions occurred over the past year. Clicking on a dancer featured on the project website’s main page reveals an arrangement of pop up windows. While the dancer’s photos are pulled from past live performances, the video clips triggered by this interaction showcase each dancer moving in private while in their own home or neighborhood. Viewers navigate through the work at their own pace and in their own chosen order. With over fifteen unique pop up window experiences to discover (at least three per dancer), the piece is never exactly the same twice.
Recessed runs on custom software developed by Maya Man. The software gives the artists full choreographic control over various aspects of the pop up windows including their size, location, transitions, and timing. Throughout their collaboration, Man and Latsky often watched footage sent over by the dancer over a video call and discussed how specific sections of a clip might be staged. Together, they worked to develop a distinct point of view on each dancer. In many ways, the production process involved qualities required for both choreographing a performance and editing a video piece. As the artists co-choreographed, they continually tinkered with timing, transitions, and placement in order to maximize the emotional power of each performer.
The project currently features dancers Sabrina Bennette, Desmond Cadogan, Jillian Hollis, Donald Lee, Sora Sol who represent a range of movement backgrounds and abilities.