(This visual journal contains personal opinions, and it does not necessarily reflect on how Dan intends his show to be experienced. The journal is best viewed on a desktop/laptop for optimal image layout and authentic visual experience.)
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to take photos for Dan Higgins’ rehearsal for his upcoming piece “( )”. Yes you read that right, the name of the piece is a gap in between a pair of parenthesis wrapped around by the quotation marks. I never get the chance to discuss the piece nor the title with Dan, so I know about the piece just as much as you do, which will save us both the enjoyment/excitement of viewing the piece in its entirety when it is performed at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Fest on August 3-5 (mark your calendar!!!). However, what I can share with you is my visual knowledge from shooting the rehearsal.
Dan was missing two dancers that night, so what you will see definitely won't spoil you anything, besides seeing Micah, Nell, and Jessica's beautiful bodies in motion.
I always admire the way Micah moves – he moves with so much power and is so grounded, with a lot of intensity and viscosity while also carrying a sense of weightless musculature. I don't want to sound creepy, but Micah is one of a few dancers that inspire me to move like them. Of course, I will never move like anyone else but myself, but the point is, I learn a lot by watching Micah, so the fact that he is in this piece makes me excited for it.
Dan uses a scarf for this dance. I’m not sure what the role of the scarf is but I really like it. It gives this sense of surrealism that Susan Sontag talks in her essays "On Photography" (Maybe one day I will write a journal about that). Basically, she talks about how we have to make sense of a photograph that defies the passage of time - look below to see how you can make sense of the suspension of the scarf while it's in motion:
This eeriness of bodies/things in motion is what give photographs their "surrealism" - the impossible that we don't see in real life. For the rehearsal, Nell and Jessica were the only two who interacted with it physically (and they have some pretty dynamic duet materials as well), but I’m sure the scarf has a bigger metaphor for the whole dance. Nell has the most interesting relationship with the scarf so far. If there is a single image that you should remember this dance by, I'm sure it will be the image of Nell dancing while her head and upper body being wrapped around by the scarf:
As if the dance isn't intriguing enough, Dan posted a riddle on his Facebook which he confirmed it has something to do with the show. Here is the riddle (spoiler: it's hard!):
"I was birthed in the shadow,
nurtured by repetition and time,
I am friend to no one, yet I know many intimately,
my strength, invisible, yet I am more powerful than you can imagine,
I have no legs, but can be found everywhere,
Especially when the conditions are just right.
You can be sure I am just around every corner, waiting to visit again."
There have been a lot of answers - fear, anxiety, self-doubt, paranoia,... - but no one has guessed it so far. According to Dan, "The answer is four words, often heard as an acronym." If you solve it, I believe it will give you the title of the show "( )". What every you guess is, make sure you come to the show to support him and his dancers. I will also be shooting his dress rehearsal and will put together another visual journal to follow up. Click here to check out the show details and here to purchase your tickets! Enjoy the rest of the visual journal, and I'll see you at the show!
Choreography: Dan Higgins
Dancers: Dan Higgins, Cooper Smith, Jessica Liu, Nell Rollins, Micah Burkhardt, Jalen Smith