WanderlustDance: Puerto Rico
Site specific dance documentary following dancer/choreographer Chell Parkins' journey back to her Puerto Rican roots.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, February 11 2019 12:45 AM UTC +00:00.
Wanderlust Dance is a project I’ve been working on since the summer of 2012. It started with a performance at the Millennium Forum in Derry/London Derry Northern Ireland during the Dance Research Forum Ireland conference. The dance was a reflection of 48 hours of traveling while sharing video documentation with a collaborator in Texas through Skype. Taylor Kirk played live accompaniment via Skype and I wore a GoPro camera to share my experience with him. 5 months later I travelled to AZALA, a creation space in the mountains of Spain to conduct a 2 week residency experimenting with live video feed manipulation using the Microsoft Kinect, Delicode and Isadora. I was invited to travel down to Bilbao to continue the work at another creation space called ZAWP. In 2017 I was invited back to ZAWP for an entire month. I came to ZAWP with 5 collaborators and created an evening length dance reflecting our experiences of exploring Bilbao virtually for 11 months and then physically during the residency. We shared our dance experiences through various social media platforms, performed outside of the Guggenheim Museum, and produced a live performance during our time in Bilbao. After returning to the United States, I recreated a 10 minute version of the evening length piece that has been performed at 3 different venues since.
As we look forward, I am interested in how our on line experiences of site specific dance can inform viewers about other cultures. My video collaborator, Stephanie Busing, and I have decided to travel to Puerto Rico for the next phase of Wanderlust Dance. Hurricane Maria had a devastating effect on the island. My mother is from Puerto Rico and a large portion of my family still lives there.
I was saddened by the lack of relief effort after the hurricane, but watched closely as the Puerto Rican people took power in their own hands to recover. I was moved by so many stories and also ashamed that I did not have a deeper awareness of how the archipelago has continued to be a colony for over 500 years. I have been reading and learning a great deal about the island’s history and want to learn and share more with the stateside community to bring a focus to the little island that belongs to the United States but is not truly a part of the United States.
Stephanie and I are planning a two phase project to create two separate dance documentaries about Puerto Rico. This June we will travel for 9 days across the island creating site specific dance videos of areas in transition from the hurricane while interviewing locals to learn more about Puerto Rico’s complicated politics. During this time we will target three separate communities who have triumphed over obstacles resulting from the hurricane. We then plan on returning for another 2 weeks in winter to devise dance works with those three communities to share their own stories with their people through a live performance and virtually through our documentation.
Our first dance documentary will share my personal journey towards understanding my roots and ties to the island. The second dance documentary will strive to share the stories of Puerto Rico with the broader community in hopes of deepening its understanding of the island and its people.
We need financial support to travel to Puerto Rico, further our research there and create our first documentary. We need funding to support our flights, travel and lodging throughout Puerto Rico, incidentals and food at the bare minimum. Fortunately, we should be able to stay with family and friends to alleviate some of the cost of lodging, but with any additional funding we will be able to purchase higher quality video equipment that can be used during both of our visits to Puerto Rico.
If you are a fan of the ongoing WanderlustDance project, please consider supporting this next phase of the work.
Risks and challenges
Although we do not anticipate any major obstacles we do realize that the weather may be less than cooperative. We are hoping to do a majority of our filming outside but if weather prohibits this, we will find alternative indoor spaces for our dance footage.
We hope to do some filming in the mountains but realize that some of the roads may still be difficult to travel on. Fortunately, we are open to the opportunities that will arise if we have to travel new paths. I am willing to dance just about anywhere and Stephanie is always prepared to film. Since we know we can know we can rely on each other, we are confident we will create something exciting together even if our plans shift while we travel.
Beyond finding spaces to dance and film in, we will be interviewing community members about the history of the island. We will be preparing questions ahead of time that are relevant to this story so that we can make the best use of our time on the island. We realize, however, that this documentary will be unfolding in front of us. We are not sure what we will find or if we will learn anything relevant. This is a huge risk. What if the story isn't compelling enough or doesn't add any depth to what we already know about the island? It may also be difficult to schedule time to meet with people. We are confident that we will be able to craft a story with the resources we find and are both open to shifting gears in story telling if need be. Since this documentary will be sharing experiences from my perspective, it seems that no matter what we encounter, it will be relevant.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter