When you start the journey on a project, however meticulously planned, you have no idea where the unexpected might lead you. Hopefully people will be affected by the work, remember it, tell others and (the key aim) help change things.
MOVING TOGETHER is the epitome of just such a project. It started life just before the Covid pandemic engulfed the world. What was to have been a short endeavour would bring together an academic studying how movement affects the body and mind, a group of individuals struggling with chronic loneliness and a performing arts company. When the worldwide flu epidemic arrived it felt like the project would have to be abandoned, or at the very least postponed, even though a project about loneliness was even more apt as we all went into lockdown. Until, that is, another phenomenon took us all by surprise – Zoom.
Following the first few in-person sessions that the group held, we moved to a virtual space and within weeks the project was re-designed. Gathering on screen turned out to have some advantages. We couldn’t meet in person, but we could have some distanced in depth conversations with participants for our research into loneliness. Our composer interpreted the conversations and created short pieces of music, inspired by each of them. From there the dancers created movements that reflected the experiences they heard about, filming themselves in kitchens, living rooms, hallways and (on fine days) gardens.
The project expanded to offer a much greater impact by creating individual short films for each of the participants, shot using socially distanced techniques and featuring a series of specially composed soundscapes/music tracks.
It was complex and time consuming, but opened up an exciting world of creativity that hadn’t been envisioned before. The films were shared with the participants, then on YouTube to a much bigger audience than was originally anticipated (nearly 11,000 and counting), and were even part of a ‘lockdown’ festival where we did an online flashmob with some of the moves created for the videos.
The making of a Short Film, extending the narrative and showing the power of dance to heal, seemed the natural conclusion to our odyssey (although the project has had, and will continue to have, a life beyond the initial project). MOVING TOGETHER The Film is joyous and uplifting and has gone on to win a number of awards since it was released:
We are all very proud of the Justice in Motion productions created over the past 10 years and get more excited each time we embark on the next one. We’re not expecting Zoom to have as big an influence on the next journey but it has taught us to look out for the unexpected.
You can see the Moving Together Film the documentary and impact stories here