“Intimacy, Crisis, & Cosplay in 2020”, a work-in-process mini-doc by dance artist, Chelsea Zeffiro & filmmaker, Summer Dunsmore while in residency @ San Diego Ballet through DISCO RIOT’s S P A C E Alliance Program. Featuring a rotating cast of guest performers who include: Ian Isles, Jaime Nixon, James McGinn, Desiree Cuizon, and Mondis Vakili.
A Series of Episodes [in multiple mediations] which move us closer to a question:
How can dance propose, enact, or rupture systems for Crisis/Chaos/Grief/Care?
For the past two years, my work has resulted in the creation of dance-plays (sometimes live, sometimes for film, but often a mixture of both). My processes and work are dependent on the performers who are participating–scripts are developed through writing practices; scenes and movement scores are devised through improvisation, interview, and play. I always begin with an overarching theme, proposition or question which drives the research and process. I also propose a works-cited which is then adapted and modified by-and-with my process collaborators. For myself, this process is a practice of deep listening, sharing, empathy, vulnerability, and care.
To move closer to a collective/collaborative understanding of the aforementioned question, my guests and I remained attentive to momentary intersections, which entailed the personal, historical, fictional, etc.
Because of the current circumstances of COVID-19 and the ever-evolving shifts we’ve had to adapt to as artists who work mainly in live performance, this S P A C E Alliance residency was used to workshop distance-creations and alternate mediations of movement-based work and processes. For this project, I utilized the 6 weeks to develop an episodic work and process–working with a multimedia editor throughout the duration and inviting a cast of rotating, long-distance guest collaborators.
With each collaborator, we began with a free-write and a reading of an excerpt from the project’s bibliography:
A timed automatic writing practice –
The conditions of this directive are to continuously write using the prompt as guidance for the duration of the time allotted (5-15 min). Feel free to use the prompt as material to address, disregard, guide, or push against. Feel free to use the time to compose, repeat/loop, break apart, etc. Feel free to use all tools available to you including tools not specified in this directive. IF you get stuck feel free to use space, punctuation, repetition, etc as tools to move forward in writing. If you choose to employ stillness and not-writing, try to intentionally clarify this for a potential reader. This could be writing for you, for me, for each other, for an editor, for real and imagined communities and for an unidentified, future audience.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO GRAVITY? [5 min.]
Baker, Annie. THE ANTIPODES. Theater Communications Group, 2018.
Berardi, Franco. Breathing: Chaos and Poetry. Semiotext(e), 2019.
Coupland, Douglas. Shopping in Jail: Ideas, Essays, and Stories for the Increasingly Real Twenty-First Century. Sternberg Press, 2013.
Lewallen, Constance M., et al. The Dream of the Audience: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (1951-1982). University of California Berkeley Art Museum, 2001.
Moten, Fred. The Feel Trio. Letter Machine Editions, 2015.
Moten, Fred. The Little Edges. Wesleyan Univ Press, 2016.
*Works referenced contributed to the understanding of artist/artmaking in the space of crisis/chaos and/or their relation to movement and the body – the integration of media, self, character and world.
After an initial writing practice, the process became conversational and something between an interview and story-sharing happened with each guest collaborator. The following practices were employed to understand character and relation to one-another: improvisation, FaceTime-ing, screen sharing/recording, audio recordings/spoken monologues, video gameplay, cos-play, projection, and camera recording
Chelsea Zeffiro is a dance artist specializing in experimental & collaborative performance between theater, dance, and film. Zeffiro’’s current practice is rooted in research, writing, and process – devising character, script, and movement reflexively, with who and what is in the room. As a performer, Zeffiro works collaboratively with artists, choreographers, and directors on processes wherein she is able to utilize her improvisational and technical dance training from development through performance. Zeffiro holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and French from University of Southern California and received her MFA as a Dance Fellow at University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA). Her current character-driven process and practice was developed at the Institut Chorégraphique International–CCN Montpellier (2018/2019) and inside of the University of the Arts’ Pedagogies of Dance curriculum (SP 2019).
Collaborator, Summer Dunsmore is a visual artist and filmmaker from San Diego, California. A recent graduate of the MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program at Duke University, her installations focus on expanding collaborative and immersive transmedia storytelling practices through video, text, performance and collage. Her portfolio includes collaborations with Thomas F. DeFrantz on an hour-long installation and performance utilizing video documentary and live-interfacing sound technologies for Durham’s MOOGFEST 2018, as well as the premiere of her text and video installation, ‘In Other Words, Other Worlds’, as a resident at the Art Produce Gallery in San Diego, CA, in 2017. In addition to installation work, she has been a professional in the media industry for six years, and has produced, shot and edited short-form video content for outlets like Marketplace-APM, Consequence of Sound, the Duke University Campus Center Art Collection, and more. She is currently a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Desiree Cuizon earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Dance, from San Diego State University in 2008. Since graduating, she has been a dance company member with Joe Alter Dance Group (2009-2010), The PGK Dance Project (2012-2016) and San Diego Dance Theater (2015 – 2018). Desire has performed in many works choreographed by Zaquia, beginning in 2013 with “in_Genuine.” She continues to work with various independent and local artists, and is looking forward to the first season of DISCO RIOT. She is extremely grateful for this dance community.
Ian Isles earned his degree in World Arts & Cultures from UCLA focusing on Contemporary Modern Dance, composition, and somatic practice. He has studied the Integrated Movement Studies curriculum for Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals as well as Ohad Naharin’s Movement Language, Gaga, in Israel. Ian co-curates ArtMoves at ArtWalk San Diego. As a performer, Ian enjoys working with grace jun’s bkSOUL, Erica Buechner’s Sound Dance Company, Vic Marks, David Rousseve, Jesse Zaritt, Mark Haim, Maria Gillespie’s Oni Dance, Nguyen Nguyen, Alexx Makes Dances, Ate9 dANCEcOMPANY, Sara Silkin and Chelsea Zeffiro.
James McGinn is a contemporary performer, choreographer, and movement theorist; currently researching in Philadelphia. His projects scale various physical and virtual contexts and question the metaphysics of improvisational movement. Initially trained by his parents, a visual artist/production designer & a Cecchetti ballerina, James continued his professional development at The New School – Eugene Lang College (BA), The Performing Arts Research & Training Studios/Brussels (P.A.R.T.S.- Research Cycle), The University of the Arts (MFA), and as a danceWEB scholar at Impulstanz/Vienna. He has been greatly influenced by performing in the work of Jonah Bokaer, Wally Cardona, Miguel Gutierrez, Ishmael Houston-Jones, John Jasperse, Daniel Linehan, Mårten Spångberg, & Robert Steijn, among others.
Jaime Nixon graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2018, where he had the honor of teaching through The Place CAT Scheme, as well as performing for Theo Clinkard, James Cousins, Xin Xin Song, and Hofesh Schecter. Jaime trained in Cunningham, Release, Action Theatre, Gaga, Flying-Low, and Contact Improvisation, all of which inspire his own practices. He has shown his work at The Place’s Robin Howard Theatre, ArtPowers New Adventurers, SDSU’s Make it Concert, CECUT in Mexico, Saville Theatre, Whitebox, and has received awards through SDDT Young Choreographers Showcase & Lux Boreal’s 4×4 TJ Nights. Jaime began dancing at 19 through San Diego City College, and is forever grateful for the guidance and support from the faculty for helping him shape the path and human he has taken on.
Mondis Vakili is an actor based in San Diego, CA. Her recent regional credits include Beachtown Live! (Dr. Shirin Shirini), House of Joy (San Diego Rep), Littering/Lettering (world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse 2019 WOW Festival), A Thousand Splendid Suns (The Old Globe) which was honored with both Craig Noel and BroadwayWorld awards, Qulili (The Blindspot Collective), Dust (Cygnet Theatre), Rocks In Her Pocket (North American premiere), and more. Mondis is a graduate of UCSD Theatre & Dance. She is a proud member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA. www.mondisvakili.com
support this project with donations via Venmo at @Chelsea-Zeffiro