Margarita Bali

The takeoff for this new video came when I learned that an excellent dancer (Luciana) was living right across my street, we had never met but were curiously following each other’s work for a couple of months through Instagram. When Isabel contacted me proposing a new work for Reed Arts Week 2020 on the subject of catharsis, it hit at the right moment, and I decided that dancing outdoors and close to our homes was the only way I could do something creative and cathartic for me and everybody involved, dancers and film crew. I proceeded then to contact the dancer and also my next-door neighbor (Gustavo) asking him to send me a photo shot of the street corner form the roof of his house. I was amazed to see an impromptu abstract scenography, those perfect white lines had the potential to be the starting point of the video. He happened to be a film producer, on strict lockdown as most of us were, and offered to come along with his cell phone to be second camera to my own video camera.

We started measuring the zebra lines and began with a playful movement theme on them, dodging cars, that don’t really stop for pedestrians. We then moved to the hospital one block away where we were immediately reminded of the ubiquitous Coronavirus presence: warning signs, spatial distancing, marked floors and then, the ominous oxygen cylinders.

I created the three death characters, the mythological Fates, represented by three senior dancers in black, with the idea of including death lurking and omnipresent throughout the work. Other dancers were then contacted for different scenes: Luciana’s online students were asked to come outside, my tango dancing friends ready to perform on the local avenue, dancers that used to be in my company many years ago came from farther away. I specifically welcomed a range of ages. The spoken scenes added a touch of humor while bringing awareness of the real fear of infection, transmission, food and work scarcity in our quarantine life. The train tracks run along my neighborhood Colegiales, normally a persistent presence in our daily lives, now also an errupting force in this work. The government street publicity signs begging people to continue making an effort are difficult to take seriously anymore, after seven months of isolation. Exhaustion is universal in this pandemic world. Quarantine had been so extended and strict that all dancers were very eager to get involved and improvise within a creative process, and they had the unusual free time to be able to participate. I could not let such an opportunity pass. I thank very much the Reed Arts Week 2020 directors and Reed College for the support and this timely encouragement to keep creating.

See stills from the film below