In 2013, I set out to make a dance film named "The Good Parts of Being Alive." Through the framework of Egon Schiele's artwork, the film explores the constantly shifting variables that make up romantic relationships. Because of the generous support I received from Kickstarter supporters, I was able to make this piece and screen it in Boston's South End in May 2015.
In the midst of making the film, I applied for a residency at The Boston Center for the Arts. In September of 2014, I was named Dance Resident and awarded one month of unlimited rehearsal time at the BCA and 3 culminating performances.
What are you planning to make during your residency?
The residency will allow me expand upon the dance film in a vital way: to create a multi-faceted experience that mirrors the countless facets of a romantic relationship. I aim to evolve and build upon my film by creating multi-media piece that uses both video and live performance. With the help of our cinematographer Tamara Al-Mashouk, I plan to use three screens throughout an installation space to display different clips of “The Good Parts” while real dancers interact with the projected footage and the screens. I want to explore the interplay between the two main variables: live dance and video - silhouettes behind the footage, shadows cast onto the footage, dancers in synchronicity with projections of themselves or in contrast to themselves, dancers improvising with projections of dancers, and all the variations on these themes. The audience will walk around, in, and through the piece.
By allowing each audience member to interact with the space, amongst so many moving parts, each audience member will have a unique experience and unique relationship with the piece. This new dimension of "The Good Parts of Being Alive" positions the audience as vital players in the choreography, allowing them to experience the movements and themes as we did in the film.
What makes this project different than the first Kickstarter you made?
This project is different in two ways: artistically and logistically.
Artistically, this piece won't be a film, even though it will have a video component. This piece will take place in a gallery with video and live dancers all in the space at once. Unlike the film, which exists on one screen and whenever someone wants to watch it, this piece will exist on three screens and in one enclosed space with several live dancers. Like live dance, this piece is time- and space-specific, and it will be unique each time we perform.
Logistically, this piece has a much more finite and secure process. Unlike the film, which was created at the mercy of available funding and film locations, this residency is well-planned in advance. We have one month to make our piece; rehearsals and budgeting will be accounted for far before it takes place. The performance is already on the calendar, and we are excited to begin our work!
What exactly does the residency provide?
I am so grateful for this residency. The main thing that the residency provides is unlimited rehearsal space for the month of June and the Mills Gallery to present our finished piece. It also affords us a $1,000 stipend to use as we see fit.
Additionally, the residency provides promotions services and acts as our box office. All of the ticket sales go back to the Boston Center for the Arts to further strengthen and develop the residency program that is fostering burgeoning creative projects like mine. During our rehearsals and performances, the residency provides photography services and technical assistance (sound, projectors, marley for the floor, etc). Photographic documentation is especially important, as we will use that material to apply for more residencies and performances for "The Good Parts" and other projects.
All of these things help us make an engaging, polished work. If I were to put on a performance independently, all of these things would total more than $3,500 (60 hours of rehearsal, performance space rental, photography services, tech assistance, publicity, etcetera). I already have a huge head start in making this piece, and none of it would be possible without the Dance Residency Program at the BCA.
What is your budget?
Performing artists: $2500, or $500/person. Each artist (dancer, visual artist, choreographer) will work for about 60 hours during the month, rehearsals and performances included. $500 breaks down to about $7.35/hr.
Costumes: $200 - Each person's costume budget will be about $50, which brings us to $200.
Makeup: $50 - I envision bold makeup that will mirror the color palette of Schiele's artwork, and from my experience making the film, high quality makeup stayed the longest and looked the most striking
Props: $200 - The props that piece requires will be custom benches. Because the piece will take place in a gallery, we need to have seats for audience members so that they aren't forced to stand for the entire piece. The benches will also have to match the aesthetic that we create within the Mills Gallery.
Prizes: $175 - The cost of producing the material prizes. Printing and shipping the postcards will come to about $50. Limited edition DVD sets will cost about $125 in all (5 sets at $20 to make and around $7.50 to ship).
Travel: $250 - Two of the four dancers involved in the piece are currently living outside of Boston. I want to reimburse them for their travel to prevent cutting into their paychecks. One dancer will be commuting in 3 times at about $50 each trip. Another dancer will be driving in 3 times, and her gas money and tolls will be about $30/trip.
Props: $175 - The cost of producing the material prizes. Printing and shipping the postcards will come to about $50. Limited edition DVD sets will cost about $125 in all (5 sets at $20 to make and around $7.50 to ship).
Total Cost = $3,375
Total Cost AFTER Residency Stipend $3,375 - $1,000 = $2,375.
Kickstarter fees plus credit card fees subtract 8-10% of the total amount raised. Taking the fees into account, the Kickstarter total will come to $2566, an unattractive number that we round down to $2500.
Why do you need my help?
We need your help to push us over the top. As I began making "The Good Parts of Being Alive," I had no idea that the piece would take on so many different iterations. So far, "The Good Parts" has been screened in the South End, its choreography selected for the Dumbo Dance Festival in Brooklyn, and chosen to be expanded and presented at the BCA.
I have no interest in complaining about the current state of arts funding. I've learned from experience that reaching out to artistic communities, friends, and supporters can make amazing art happen. The people who believe in its importance and staying power step up to preserve it or produce it.
I want to make an expansive piece of art with highly skilled artists. Part of that process is paying these artists a fair wage for their efforts, energy, and expertise. Your help is critical in making this happen. We all know the value of great artwork – its ability to move us, to question us, to define us – and I hope you'll see that "The Good Parts of Being Alive" does just that. Join us in making its new iteration a success!
Risks and challenges
This funding campaign helps us to deliver to the highest of our capabilities. We already have the piece, the time, and the stage; we just need your help to make it incredible.
That being said, here are some things that will present challenges:
- When artists are traveling to rehearsals, there is always a larger chance that rehearsal hours will be missed (a bus breaking down, traffic, etc).
- Technical difficulties - we will be working with projectors, editing software, lighting - all of which Tamara is an expert at maneuvering- however there is always the potential for unforeseen problems.
- (30 days)