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“Some people could look at a mud puddle and see an ocean with ships.”
- Zora Neale Hurston

Fear and Flow

My early explorations in film were colored by a small, sallow chorus of critics in my head: you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know the rules, you’re a neophyte.

It’s true that with each shoot I sensed how little I yet understood about this highly technical medium. But this fact remains: I learn by doing...and by sharing. Happily, there is a part of filmmaking that seems to flow toward me: editing.

Editing film feels a lot like my native process of choreography; choosing the flow of information within a temporal journey, finding the right balance between visual and aural modes, activating my instincts in rhythm, contrast, texture, composition. For this resemblance, I love it.

On the other hand, editing is a very different creative experience than my life with dancers. Once I have the footage I enter a kind of cocoon, working quietly in a dark room with only one other person. I feel calm and open; anything might happen.

In the editing room, I’m no longer with my powerful dancers: their tides of emotion that rise and fall; bodies that experience exhaustion, pain, pleasure; bursts of connection, doubt, irritation, sharp joy; vapors of sweat, that special flux and heave of humanity.

In the messy, marvelous dance studio, I’m a tuning-fork constantly sensing the room, the people in it, my own internal fluctuations. I practice this because my dancemaking depends on dancers being alive to their own feelings. It’s our energetic exchange that matters to me as an artist.

In the editing room I can really hear myself think: fully and quietly. I can doubt and decide. I can try things again, test out tiny differences, play with endless variations; without exhausting anyone or needing to take into account their threshold for change.

There is no living human being before me; only a cipher.

And honestly, the technological precision and control that film offers did feel cold to me at first, especially as an artist used to working in heat and sweat. I wondered how I’d ever find my voice in such a distanced medium.

But as I play more with film editing it’s beginning to feel like a kind of refuge, like disappearing into a book that gets my mind churning and roving. The introvert in me loves editing.

And I have to admit this out loud: I find myself dreaming about movement on film these days. Live performance is no longer my only means to offer the connectedness and intimacy I cherish. I see a new frontier.

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