“Waking the Green Sound: a dance film for the trees” by Wobbly Dance
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There are so many movies in the world that I rarely watch any of them twice. I’m already so behind in watching films that have been on my list for years. But let me tell you, I happened upon a second screening of Wobbly Dance’s “Waking the Green Sound: a dance film for the trees” without knowing that’s where I was headed just last night. I thought I was transported into a magical parallel universe the first time? The second time was almost unbearable because the film is so gorgeous. And I was sitting next to guest artist Grant Miller this time. There’s something very intense about being completely enraptured with a quiet, meditative, butoh-oriented film and hearing the live breathing of one of the artists from the film next to you.
[Image description: Three dancers, painted in white, sit among tall trees in a dreamlike image by Kamala Kingsley.]
If you want to see this film for the first through twentieth time (you do, trust me), you can do that all in one day. Wobbly Dance’s short film is playing every half hour between 11:00 am and 8:30 pm at the Cameo Gallery on Thursday, September 3rd. In between film showings, you can explore an art installation by Meghann Rose and Whelky Tatar.
There’s an artist reception with food and drinks 5:00 – 9:00 pm. This event is free and all ages.
2809 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
#6 bus line
Let me tell you about this film. In Wobbly’s words: “Waking the Green Sound is a fantasy world where performers transform as they move through unique worlds. We created this film out of a desire to connect to the natural world on a deeper, visceral level; to connect to nature through movement in a wordless dreamy landscape.”
And my words: I’ve been watching Wobbly Dance performances for years. In fact, before they were Wobbly, I danced with founders Yulia Arakelyan and Erik Ferguson and other disabled dancers back when DanceAbility was a strong movement here in the early 2000s. DanceAbility is specifically for dancers with and without disabilities, with and without prior dance training to dance and move together and collaborate. But in my experience here , it was mostly disabled people who showed up to dance, and audiences were usually people who knew the dancers. When Wobbly formed, they moved out of primarily disabled space and started working in non-disabled space. This constantly brings up conversations about accessibility (can’t perform in a space that’s not accessible for the dancers to get into). Accessibility should never be a topic that comes up in isolation. People don’t want ramps just because ramps make things convenient. When you create and perform work in inaccessible spaces, you are sending a huge message to the disability community that they are not wanted, not invited, not considered. It’s a social justice issue around equity and respect. And for artists, inclusive casting brings up a constant exploration of the value of having disabled people involved. The diversity of body types, movement possibilities, and aesthetic experiences are only enriched when disabled bodies get onstage. Disabled dancers are not special, inspiring for showing up, or a burden. They’re dancers.
Wobbly is well known for their slow, meditative work that includes butoh and small physical movements. They’ve often used different types of medical tubing as props as well as bringing a trunkful of flowers onstage or covering their bodies with arching, snaggled branches. The dancers love the outdoors and nature. This time, instead of bringing the branches in, they created this short film completely outdoors. Collaborator Ian Lucero‘s camerawork is immersive, intimate, and haunting. It allows you to get into Wobbly’s space, and even inside their teapot. That’s not a metaphor. There’s a teapot on the film. You get to go into it simply by watching.
Moving between a stylized mad hatter tea party, a shrine, the trees, and the ground, there’s never a rushed moment. In fact, the film lingers, but never for too long. You can revel in the delightful, thoughtful movements of the dancers’ hands, arms, shoulders, and faces as Lucero plays with time itself going between slow motion, a jumpy time lapse quickness, and regular speed.
I wish I had more words to describe this film. If there’s any message I’d like you to take away, it’s that this film masters the visual nature of film and basically makes it feel like time has stopped while you watch. It feels like it’s over way too soon. So the cool part about September 3rd is that if, like me, you can’t tolerate that the film ever ends, just stick around. It’s playing again.
Watch the trailer. There are no spoken words, just the rich ambience created by experimental music group Sweetmeat.