My friend and fellow Montclair resident Marlies Yearby was the Tony Award-nominated choreographer for the musical "Rent." I mention this not as an act of name dropping but rather to imply her level of talent, passion, and dedication as succinctly as possible. Add to this resume a quality of vision, which at a certain point becomes what it's all about, looking at the world from the vantage of one's passion and asking yourself: where does creativity go from here? And so during a conversation with her friend, fashion maven and tech guru Bonnie Sandy, an idea come into being....
On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 19, in the screening room of the Kumble Theatre for the Performing Arts on the campus of Long Island University, an event titled "Dancehackit" [the term "hack" reffering not to the insidious invasion of privacy but rather to the appplication of a given technology to purposes outside its original intent], a dovetailing of creativity with state-of-the art computer programs took place.
At 2:10 p.m., 10 minutes past schedule, which for anyone ever involved in putting a show together, would understand in the scheme of things to actually be ahead of schedule, the lights went on, a vast array of laptops and cameras in the Brooklyn studio linked to computers and cameras in Vermont, USA, Gambia, West Africa, and St. Lucia in the Caribbean went online, a musical playlist began and dancers thousands of miles apart all began to move to the same beat.
There was no set choreography in the given sense. Yearby's theme was that of improvisation free-style, with each dancer moving in virtual space and real-time to his or her interpretation. What happened transcended space and technology- dancers in the same room and dancers at great distances commenced to move as one. Had I not been witness in the Brooklyn studio to the process by which this all came together, I would have percieved what was taking place, this balance between the frenetic and the precise, to have been rehearsed to the point of rote action.
My job in all of this was to balance documentation of the process from inception to performance, yet in the same motion interpret the essence of creativity as artist. To have been chosen by Marlies was both honor and privilege; to have not only been welcomed but embraced by as a family member by such dedicated, talented and passionate dancers and techicians [some of whom functioned in both roles] touched me on a spiritual level. What struck me most was that in the context of the artistic nature I could detect not the slightest hint of ego, save mine perhaps in saying to the world I have come into contact with such talent!