“Tell us your best hamster/gerbil story,” read the slips of paper that passed from hand to hand through the densely packed Horn Gallery. People shared spare pens and dull pencils, searching for a few free square inches of floor to write their stories, as they waited for Collaboration in Motion to begin.
Last Saturday’s performance, produced by Naomi Lofchie ’20, Suzy Goldberg ’19 and Catherine Kelly ’19, marked the project’s second annual production. Collaboration in Motion brings together musicians, dancers, visual artists, poets and storytellers to create unique performance art pieces. The project, initially developed by Lofchie and Severine Kaufman ’18, sprouted from a desire to bring artists from different mediums together.
“We have all of these talented people at Kenyon, but once you meet certain friends or once you declare your major you just kind of stay with that group,” Lofchie said. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for these people to just kind of come together, meet each other, and then work together.”
The evening began with shadows. A light shone behind a crisp paper cutout, projecting the silhouette of two bodies onto the wall. Dancers Abby Kauff ’20 and Kelly then emerged, their own bodies creating a matching silhouette. The two moved through the space with clean, paper-like qualities, matching and briefly holding the images of the consistently changing shadows behind them, and then pushing forward, exploring the suggestions of these images through movement.
The piece, “eye spy,” was a collaboration between Kauff, Kelly and Ellie Corser ’20, who constructed the silhouettes.
“When talking with Ellie, she kind of came up with the idea of projecting our cutouts, which I would never have thought of or imagined,” Kelly said. “But it also then helped us with our choreography because we then wanted to make the most appealing or interesting cut outs. It was mutually beneficial.”
Experimentation with shadows presented itself again in “Shadow Riff,” a collaboration between Edward Moreta Jr. ’22, Daniela Grande ’20 and Sawyer Hiton ’19. Hiton played a fusion of ambient notes, as Moreta crouched close to the floor in front of a sheet. As the piece progressed, Moreta began to ascend upwards, at first slowly curling his limbs out and around himself and then eventually gaining more speed and elasticity until he was leaping weightlessly through the air.
As Moreta danced, Grande worked frantically behind him, tracking every shadow his body made against the white sheet in charcoal. By the time the piece came to a close, the sheet was covered in a snarl of markings, capturing the evolution of Moreta’s movement throughout the piece.
Though many of the evening’s performances found their base in dance, “Once Upon a Time,” created and performed by Marli Volpe ’19, Mallory Richards ’19, Willa Moore ’19, Maddie Ruwitch ’19, Goldberg, Kelly and Will Nichol ’19, found its base in storytelling. During the performance, the group behaved like friends delighting in each other’s lighthearted recollections of embarrassing stories or childhood memories. The performance explored the variety of ways in which to tell a story. In one, a speaker told a story while the rest of the group moved throughout the space, creating different tableaus to illustrate it.
In another moment, the group told stories collectively, each reading from long scrolls of brown paper that they unwound as they spoke. The “gerbil/hamster” stories reemerged in this piece as Volpe picked one of the slips of paper out of a bag and read an audience member’s story about the tragic death of a childhood hamster named Jam.
“We wanted to bring something different to the table to kind of open it up for people in the future to say that ‘maybe I don’t play an instrument or maybe I don’t dance but I can still think creatively and I can still make something that I can show people,’” Goldberg said.
As Collaboration in Motion drew to a close, Lofchie hung a homemade disco ball from the ceiling. In the final piece, entitled “Reunion,” Miah Tapper ’21 and Jacqueline Sanchez ’20 danced energetically through the space to the song “Gotta Go Home” by Euro-Caribbean vocal group Boney M. Eventually they were joined onstage by everyone who had contributed to the evening’s production, performers and technicians alike.
The group performed in a casual, but joyful, choreographed dance, ending the evening in celebration of their collaborative efforts.