OZ Arts Presents Jana Harper's THIS HOLDING: TRACES OF CONTACT
OZ Arts Nashville presents the world premiere of This Holding: Traces of Contact, a timely and unique dance-film event on May 29 at 8 pm across its website and social platforms. When it became clear that the current health crisis would prevent OZ Arts from hosting live performances, artist Jana Harper and her collaborators seized the opportunity to reimagine the performance for the camera and premiere it as a video project shot in in various locations around Nashville.
The project was more than a year in the making, thanks to a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which allowed Harper to work with dozens of participants in a series of workshops and improvisations about themes that are even more relevant during a pandemic: timely issues about the relationship of an individual to the larger community and the responsibilities and burdens we share during difficult times. The subtitle, "Traces of Contact," reflects the person-to-person tracking method made necessary by Covid-19, the transition from live performance to film, and the effect of physical contact limitations on movement-based work.
The resulting multidisciplinary performance film was conceived and directed by Harper in collaboration with choreographer Rebecca Steinberg, composer/musician Moksha Sommer, and filmmaker Sam Boyette, using physical movement to explore personal empathy and the shared human experience. It also features dancers associated with contemporary dance company New Dialect. The film will be streamed through multiple channels, including YouTube and Facebook, and viewers who watch the film premiere will have the opportunity to participate in a live Q&A with the artists.
The piece examines individual and collective burdens and what it means to feel connected to something larger than ourselves-especially when apart. All videos were shot at outdoor locations in Nashville during isolation and with requisite space between dancers. If at any point the dancers touch, they are performers who have been quarantined together.
"The work has taken on new meaning post-tornado and with the physical, social, and work restrictions in place for many of us," said Mark Murphy, OZ Arts Executive and Artistic Director. "I hope it inspires viewers and reminds us of our shared values, and the resilience and spirit of community and humanity that carries people through difficult times. I'm thrilled by the innovative approach and beautiful vision these Nashville-based artists have implemented to make this performance film accessible to audiences around the globe."
Lead artist Jana Harper says, "As you can imagine, the initial news about cancelling the live performance was quite devastating. But I am truly grateful to OZ and our funders for both allowing and encouraging us to pivot towards film. Reframing the project has allowed us to address the impact of the pandemic on the fabric of all our lives. The conditions were challenging, but the restrictions of social and physical distance also became tremendous sources of creativity and insight."
In addition funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the show is able to go on thanks to support from The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise & Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Metro Arts Nashville, and the Office of the Provost at Vanderbilt University. The film is free to view with an optional "pay what you can" donation, and viewers are encouraged to RSVP in advance to receive exclusive behind-the-scenes content and event reminders at the following link.
Prior to the film premiere, viewers are encouraged to participate in a virtual community workshop on May 21 from 6-8 pm. The Burdens We Carry: Fostering Empathy in Precarious Times uses sound, storytelling, gesture, and movement to explore the relationship between weight and empathy. Workshop participants must sign up to receive the Zoom link and password at this link.
OZ Arts has shifted its spring programming and activities to virtual formats where possible and postponed in-person events through June 30th, including productions of Steal Away, Ronald K. Brown / EVIDENCE, and Grand Magnolia.
For more information about OZ Arts and this performance, visit https://www.ozartsnashville.org/this-holding/.