(At any point during the journal, you can click on images to enlarge them)

It was Sunday night in the midst of a snow storm. Salt Lake City felt sluggish, hollow as people retreated to their home to avoid this bettering cold. Usually, I would want to stay inside, read, or watch a movie, or do nothing. Instead, I tuned in to my favorite K-pop playlist, put on some fancy clothes, and got ready to go to Molly Heller’s “HEARTLAND + Dance Party”!

Context: Molly Heller is my mentor and teacher during grad school. She has always been supportive of me and my class. Her guidance plays an important part in my artistic maturity and approach. She is also an incredible choreographer and performer, whose works touches me in many ways. (Reach out to Molly and get to know her here)

In Molly’s works, the energy, the physical texture of the performers’ bodies, the way they looks at you, navigating the space are all very tactile and personal. Molly’s works are not for those who seek superficial spectacles. I say this from a personal perspective because during my first year of grad school, I felt distant from her aesthetics, but through a series personal crisis and through the brutality of grad school that forced me to become opened, vulnerable, to learn to love and accept myself, that is when Molly’s choreography start to transcend me. The phenomenology of what is felt and experienced on stage is genuine and infective. Watching her works is like becoming understood and transparent, which is why they are special and never feel stagnant regrading the physical framework. Molly’s dances often remind me that I don’t need to do much, yet I can still resonate and connect with a person by listening and sensing their energy.

“HEARTLAND + Dance Party” was exactly that experience I needed. Molly and dancers Brian Gerke, Marissa Mooney took the space to share their experiences - everything regarding the hearts - through various solos with a joint performance at the end. The space was filled with pink and red balloons, so many of them - so appropriate for Valentines day approaching (also they were popping like popcorn during the performance, was it a sign for how some of us would spend the dreaded holiday!?). The performing space was set up like a boxing ring, but was soon dismantled by the performers, opening up the floor to welcome audiences for the dance party. I was a part of the secret crew who helped Molly transition from performance to party. It was a strange yet heartfelt experience, to be able to take in their energy and then immediately joining them, like a collective echo, to galvanize an even bigger collective echo. Soon everyone joined us, and with Michael Wall’s energizing music, the Beehive soon felt like a dance club. It might be cold and snowy outside, but inside, this party is lit!

If you would like to learn more about HEARTLAND and Molly’s research, there is a review in loveDANCEmore by Hannah Fischer (here) and there is an interview with Molly in the DIYdancer magazine as a precursor to the event (here). As for the rest of this visual journal, please enjoy some more photos!

Below are some photos of the dance party by Nora Lang - edit by me (all photos from performance above are by me).