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Help us reach $5,000...
46% Funded
$2303 Raised
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20 Supporters earn a matching grant!

Quicksilver has just been awarded its biggest grant yet: a $5,000 matching grant from the East Bay Community Foundation’s Fund for Artists! But there's a catch... we only receive this support if we also raise $5,000 from supporters like you before August 15, 2017!

Thus, please consider donating today to take advantage of this unique opportunity for your generosity to be doubled and to make a tremendous impact on Quicksilver this year! You can donate online by visiting our page on Fractured Atlas.

Making An Epic Dance

Assuming we make the match, Quicksilver will put all $10,000 towards the creation of our newest dance, Children of Hobbes, which will premiere at Shawl-Anderson Dance Center in Berkeley, CA on November 17-19, 2017. Children of Hobbes is an intimate dystopia exploring the 'ugly, brutish and short' side of human relationships as revealed in the 2016 election. Aesthetically inspired by the understated style and subtlety found in Japanese artwork, this dance investigates finding complex composition within pared-down movement, while examining the dark social truths and rays of hope in a dog-eat-dog world.

We will be updating this site with blogs from Mariah and the company detailing our creative process and the progress of the piece throughout the next several months. We hope you'll check back frequently and join us on this journey! If you'd like to receive updates by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook!

Plus: if you donate $100 or more, we will thank you with two free tickets to the premiere!

Sharing Our Values

As always, Quicksilver remains committed to paying our dancers a professional wage: we respect their commitment to our work and value their skill and professionalism. Most dancers work several part-time jobs in order to make time to perform and hone their skills as dancers. Paying them for rehearsals allows them to invest more fully in their craft, resulting in higher quality performances and more adept artists.

Of course, living this value doesn't come cheap. With paying four dancers $12/hour and studio space rentals costing $16/hour, a single rehearsal costs Quicksilver nearly $200. Compound this number over a year of rehearsals, and you can imagine how quickly costs add up! And then there's the show: renting the theater for the performances alone costs over $2,000, hiring a lighting designer another $1,000, plus costumes, print advertisements and documenting the work in video and photographs, which are vital for winning new grants.

As you can see, your donation has a huge impact on our creative process, and donating even $12 is a great way to show that you value dance at the local level.

Putting Down Roots in the East Bay

We are proud that the East Bay Community Foundation’s support firmly establishes Quicksilver within the arts ecosystem of our new home. Quicksilver is excited to use EBCF’s recognition to reach new audiences, making high-caliber dance more accessible within the East Bay. Thus, we hope you will donate today and help us claim this matching grant! Your support will lift Quicksilver to new heights as we leap into our new community.

Donate now!

Quicksilver Dance is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Quicksilver Dance must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

2017 Creative Process Blog

Character Details
Jenna Valez
June 12, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

Children of Hobbes consists of detailed and deeply intentional movement. Each gesture, look, and step has a purpose and is carefully choreographed in support of the character's (or dancer's) development. Children of Hobbes might not be full of “dancey” movement, but it carries the same energy through bold motions through space. Since there are several small details and textures to this piece, I find it quite exciting to perform.

In other dances I have been in, there is usually not enough time to think about character development and the intention behind each and every movement. Working with Mariah, however, has been different. A large portion of our rehearsals are based around finding our character and what it exactly means to, for example, lift our head up and see something in front of us or walk to a different part of the stage. The trajectories are clear, the angle of our heads are specific, and even the energy in our eyes has a certainty to it. As a dancer, I appreciate having something to think about while performing: it helps me dive into my character and perform to my fullest authentic potential.

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

Shifting Perspectives
Carla Maria Negrete Martinez
May 30, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

Over the last four months, I have been lucky to rehearse with Quicksilver for their Spring season as a substitute dancer. Having this particular role in the company allowed me to explore each dancer’s role, and also observe the piece as an outsider when it was performed at Joe Goode’s Feedback Show. This changing eye made me realize that sometimes as a dancer in a choreography I don't know what the piece I’m in is about, and while I can develop an emotion to the movement, I don’t necessarily have a clear context for the experience being created on stage until I see it as an outsider.

Drawing on our improvisation exercises, Mariah has found small snapshots of movement from which universal relationships can be surfaced for the viewer to experience. After re-learning sections of an improv from video we gave them funny names, such as "Gates of Mordor," or "Crab Walks" for easy reference. Each one of these snapshots was arranged with others to create an entire section of the full-length piece, and what came together often carried a completely different mood than I expected. While the learning process was usually light-hearted, the resulting choreography could shift quickly between aggressive and caring undertones simply by altering the intention of a glance between dancers.

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

Incorporating Feedback
Mariah Steele
May 22, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

In many ways, this process has felt like the dance equivalent of writing a serial novel: we have had the opportunity to present new sections regularly in contexts where we can receive feedback from the audience. Such feedback has been very useful for me to know how each individual section is impacting the audience, and to find out whether or not other people think the dance is about what I think it is about after they see it. In other words, feedback lets me know whether my ideas are coming through the choreography clearly. It also lets me know what is working or not working, and raises new questions for me to consider.

I find that feedback falls into five categories, in terms of how it will affect my process. Here are the categories, plus examples of each from our recent feedback sessions:

1) Comments that validate that my ideas are coming through the choreography clearly. I use these to feel confident about moving forward in the same direction.

  • "Very deeply moving and emotional themes about survival. Avoids cliches and reaches/touches a truth about the human condition. It brought tears and the feeling to me that events in Syria and around the world also do."
  • "The complexity of companionship. The power struggle and need for individuality - plus the reliance. It was juxtaposed with the monotony of solitude."
  • "This piece raises the question whether humans can ever truly connect with one another."

2) Comments that reveal a "problem" in the choreography which may be a hole, a jump in logic, a moment that breaks audiences' attention or is confusing or boring. Then I know to work to address such a problem.

  • "I felt you went a few too many places. I got lost about three fourths of the way mainly because I didn’t have a good context."

3) Comments that make me see something in the piece I didn’t realize was there, which ends up giving me new ideas to pursue in the studio.

  • "Water interacting with itself and different elements of nature, moving and hitting rocks and the sides of rivers, breaking apart and being drawn back together, then dancing together in a whirlpool." In fact, several people mentioned water, and feelings of being under-water, which was a brand new image for me to consider.

4) Fun images that make me happy to be an artist, because who ever thought of what the dance of futuristic crab-aliens would look like!

  • "Horror movie-like creatures! crabs or aliens or something like that."
  • "This piece felt futuristic to me: human bodies that have had to evolve into other human forms...perhaps too the fear, loss and hope that comes with the changes in the future."

5) Opinions that go against a core idea or an aesthetic of the dance; these I ignore it for the most part.

  • "Why women? Why couples? Why floor work?" To which my answer is: why not? We have to start somewhere.

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

Delving Deeper
Oona Wong-Danders
May 10, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

To me, Children of Hobbes is made up of layers: not only in the way it was constructed and created, but also in the ways that our characters have developed and what we represent on stage. I joined this piece in January, after part of it was already created, and had the experience of seeing it performed for the first time before I knew I was going to be in it. I stepped into a character that already existed and then had to adapt and develop that character even more over the past few months to really make it my own. Every time we run a section of the piece, I aim to delve deeper and discover more about myself and the message that my character is trying to convey. Because this piece stems from the ever-changing, ever-fearful, and ever-resistant state of our current world, the mood of the piece and the characters’ story lines continue to shift and change. This is part of what makes Children of Hobbes so different and exciting and incredibly pensive: a constant influx of new information and ideas shape the piece, making it ultimately open-ended. Mariah has never set a clear definition or final intention for the dance because I feel like we continue to unearth new layers and the piece continues to evolve, delving deeper into the politics of society and the country in today’s world.

While Children of Hobbes may lack triple pirouettes that end in high extensions and impressive partnering feats, it more than makes up for it in its sensitive and detailed movements and the relationships between the dancers on stage. The piece constantly transitions seamlessly between basic pedestrian movements, weird, awkward, unusual, sometimes uncomfortable movements, over-the-top silliness, and incredibly familiar and touching human interactions. As a dancer, this piece challenges me in ways I don’t normally experience and pushes my performance in a way I haven’t had to focus on before: it is much less technical and involves much more emotion and thought than usual. For example, it would be near impossible to slowly walk across the stage for several minutes without a narrative in your head and still convey a thought-provoking message to the audience. So it becomes necessary for me to embody my character’s thought process and have an open dialogue with myself, in that moment, on stage, that resonates wordlessly from my body to affect the people in the audience. It is pieces like this where I can truly feel myself growing and learning as a dancer and performer. I am so grateful to be part of this project that allows me to push my artistry in new and innovative ways and allows me an outlet to safely explore and express how I am feeling about the state of the world.

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

Behind the Scenes
Mariah Steele
May 3, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

I was aiming for a philosophical post for today, but then, seeing as this blog is meant to illuminate the Children of Hobbes creative process, I decided to share what is happening behind the scenes in Quicksilver this week:

Oona, one of the dancers, sprained her ankle badly a few days ago. With a performance this coming Sunday, we needed a Plan B. My first instinct was to ask a couple of dancers who have joined us in the past to see if they were free: unfortunately, the answer was no. The next idea was to modify the new section of Children of Hobbes we were planning to show; but when Oona sent me a list of what she could and couldn’t do, it seemed like the necessary changes would impact the section’s core idea, leaving critical elements unconnected. So that plan went out the window, too. Finally, today, I came up with a good idea: we can perform an altogether different section on Sunday, one in which Oona’s part consists of slow movement suitable for a healing ankle. Although this "solution" seems obvious now, it’s an example of how much creative thinking and problem solving goes into the day-to-day running of a dance company.

This situation also reminds me of how many behind-the-scenes events affect the decisions of what Quicksilver – or any dance company – puts on stage. Sometimes unforeseen events in rehearsal or performance can create happy accidents that end up becoming part of the dance. Other times they force a director to make a less-than-ideal artistic or programming decision. For instance, the downside of my solution to this injury is that Sunday's performance is designed for the audience to provide us with feedback on the piece; the originally planned section is brand new and would benefit from feedback much more than the older section we will now perform. (However, the show must go on, even if it’s a different show than planned...) Whether positive or negative, all "outside" events during a creative process affect what happens "inside" the studio. Once again, real life pierces the traditional image of the lone creative genius in an empty room being seized by a sudden moment of inspiration.

Events like this make me think the creative process might better be named "The Life Process in Miniature." It’s all improvisation after all, no matter how hard we may try to choreograph it!

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

The Choreographic Microscope
Mariah Steele
April 24, 2017
Rehearsal photos by Hillary Goidell

Children of Hobbes began with a very abstract idea, but has since evolved into a compelling story of survival in a dog-eat-dog world. For each new section, we start with improvisations in which the dancers have only five choices: walk at different tempos, change levels, stop, enter or exit. This paring-down of movement highlights spatial relationships, giving the distance and shape between dancers added significance. I then watch the films of these improvisations, selecting interesting “units” for the dancers to re-learn in rehearsal. Eventually, we sequence the units together, and layer more movement on top of or in between the structures originally conceived through improvisation.

One of the most exciting aspects of this creative process has been watching how beginning with abstraction can actually lead to very human themes. Indeed, I see my role as choreographer for this piece partly as a “seer” (or specifically, a “see-er”): my job is to see what emotions, relationships and themes are living beneath the surface – in a single look, a gesture, a clump of bodies – within an improvisation. The choreography then becomes a microscope that magnifies the improvisation’s themes so that they become visible and more fleshed out in the final dance. In other words, I did not set out to make a dance about the darker side of human nature; rather, it just happened.

Except that, of course, it didn’t “just happen.” Given that this creative process started in October 2016, I believe our psyches in the studio were primed by all of the corrosive dominance-plays and power imbalances unearthed by the presidential election. What we were seeing and feeling and parsing out in the world around us entered the improvisations and became the most compelling units to be selected on video. Indeed, after inauguration day, the focus of the group’s improvisations took a turn: they developed a sense of urgency for survival, community and support, all of which has seeped into our latest section.

For years, most of my dances have started with a clear idea, such as “I want to make a dance about X or Y.” How miraculous – and humbling – to find that starting in abstraction has allowed for the dance that wants to be made to find us.

If you'd like to receive these posts by e-mail, please join our mailing list; and don't forget to follow us on Facebook! Rehearsal Photos by Hillary Goidell.

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Last Modified: 13 Jun 2017
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