“To be whole is to be part, true voyage is return.”
- Ursula LeGuin

True Voyage is Return

Deep into filming, Jack and I began to perceive the aliveness of things beyond the dancers: deer, mud, rain, mist, bones...tree limbs that resembled bones. We became collectors looking for that serendipitous sense of order; moments when nature meets our human desire for symbolism.

We came upon these bones above exactly the way they appear, drawn to a composition that seems attributable to choice. Yet these bones were just the remains of death: beautiful and succinct.

One evening we happened upon two deer caught inside a dilapidated wall, shrouded in kudzu. It was raining, the deer were frozen; staring at us staring at them. Stillness took on more meaning for me, the more I looked at nature.


I was asking the dancers to do less as filming continued; stillness offered plenty of visual opportunity. Jack and I began to perceive the dancers within a broader context, as threads connecting to the natural world; a dancer’s spine like a caterpillar undulating, an elbow bent like a tree root.

I also noticed myself becoming sensitized to the concept of the site. Jack and I roamed country roads by car in the early mornings and at dusk, hunting for special sites, for good light, for opportunity in the tonal changes of the land. Visually, everything was coming alive for me.

The Dry Mars Pit is a site that lives on in my imagination. It was a unique setting, a construction clearing out of use. It had a harsh and barren tone; otherworldly.

We framed the Dry Mars Pit to resemble the moon’s surface or an unending mudflat. We filmed under a high noon sun, and later, when rain had turned it all to mud.

The dancers melded with this landscape as they moved, morphing into water buffalo, boulders, Martians, dragonflies. We could have made an entire film on this site alone, it was so beautiful.


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