Dead Swans & Their Ghosts

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From the Rooftop

This was filmed on the roof of my grandparent’s house in Bhamdoun, Lebanon. In creating this piece, I played with the coexistence of beauty and ugliness, as well as the concept of perspective–how what you see depends on where you’re looking from–two ideas which felt very relevant to both the site and my overall experience visiting the country.

Choreographed, danced, and edited by Nadia Khayrallah
Filmed by Ali Khayrallah and Nadia Khayrallah
Music by Trio Joubran

Tourist

Greetings from Croatia! I’m here with family for my cousin’s wedding, but before heading to the hotel where the wedding party is, we spent our first day in Old Dubrovnik being tourists.

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city with a rich, ugly, complex history, but more immediately visible is a scene of shiny tourist hubs which don’t have much to do with any of that. And I don’t say that to complain in any way or pretend that I am somehow above the whole tourist thing–unsurprisingly, I enjoyed the things that were specifically designed for people such as myself to enjoy. I enjoyed the nice restaurants and cute cafes with beautiful views and the ability to talk to people in English (and I’m certainly not going around claiming to be more “worldly” because of this sort of travel experience). But I had to laugh at myself for being such a stereotypical tourist sometimes, especially when stopping to take pictures everywhere and getting lost.

castle

Of course I also had to dance! My sister helped me film this little improv on the steps near our apartment (the old town is filled with steps like these).

This dance also reminds me of being a tourist: that odd combination of exploring a place like it’s a novelty and also moving through it as if it’s already yours. In terms of editing, I also tried to play around with the basic idea of up and down and how they can be related and intertwined.

More pics and updates to come!

Snowpocalypse Dancing

Because why let a little cold and aggressive snowball fighters get in the way of dancing? What we did this Wednesday:

DanceLens “let it go” during Snowpocalypse 2015 (“it” being assumptions about where dance should occur, of course)! Also, people threw snow at each other.

Filming: Bridget Jamison
Editing: Nadia Khayrallah
Dancers: Bridget Jamison, Kiki Mackaman-Lofland, Debbie Mausner, Melissa Kaufman-Gomez, Sadi Mosko, Carolyn Silverman, Nadia Khayrallah, Freeland Ellis
Also featuring: snowball fighters of Columbia University, some kids, and a dog

Music by Brad Bosenbeck, AnnMarie Buonaspina, Drew Vella, Jason Domingo, Justin Scheidling, and Maryann Buonaspina. Check them out here. 

DanceLens is a group for Barnard and Columbia University students dedicated to the creation of site-specific dance films. Check us out here. 

My Life Lately

Some things I’ve been up to lately:

First of all, I did some Nutcracking this weekend (the ballet kind). It’s been a while since I’ve been in a Nutcracker, but I’ve gotta admit that it still holds a certain nostalgic and kind of magical place in my heart. Kind of like a home to come back to. The show went really well and now I’m all in that Christmasy mood.

Photo by Rebecca Ohaeri

On a side note, has anyone noticed how crazy the actual Nutcracker plot is? Besides all those colonialist vibes, can we appreciate that the Nutcracker is a fairy tale in which the girl saves the soldier? (Specifically with a shoe . . . ) And that it’s a ballet about food? Also, do no other NYC residents find the concept of ginormous fighting rats a little too real? Not that anyone really watches ballet for the plot but . . .

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The morning after the show, I woke up at 5:30 (after 2 hours of sleep) to shoot a dance film project at Hudson River Park (and drag along a highly obliging dance friend to help). Ever since I saw some kids playing on the beautifully geometric/funky jungle gym dome there, I knew I wanted to make my dance around it. I figured that we needed to get there super early to film before kids overtake it. What I didn’t realize was that it was going to be cold. Really really cold. I had to stop every few minutes when my hands went numb. Also, when the camera I borrowed wasn’t working, we had to resort to using an iPhone.

Despite that, I managed to get some pretty good footage out of it and made this:


I stuck around in the area for a few hours afterwards, hoping to get some footage of actual kids for contrast. Except that it was so cold that no children ever showed up. Whoops. I kind of stopped wanting the kid footage in the end though, since the space and some of the movement that came out of it already brought a strong enough “kid element” into the piece. But I guess that also means we could have slept in a little . . .

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As of yesterday, I’m done with classes for the semester. Turned in some papers and projects. I guess that makes me 3/8 of a graduate? On to reading week. Maybe I’ll break the traditional typical reading week ritual of locking yourself in a library while trying really hard to look like you’re studying intensely (actual progress optional) by actually doing something exciting. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Breaking Rules, Fourth Walls, and Probably Other Things

Video

Remember when we were dancing in odd and sometimes less-than-legal places to make site-specific dance video installations for Founders Day? Well the videos are now up on the interwebs for you to see.

My film is below and you can see the rest here.

For over 100 years, Barnard students have been subjected to written and unwritten laws regarding stairwell traffic patterns, which reflect a larger social regulation of human movements. We saw what happens when we break them.

Milbank rules taken from the November 3, 1992 Barnard Bulletin.

Choreography by: Nadia Khayrallah
Filmed By: Rebecca Bass
Performed by: Kiki Mackaman-Lofland, Debbie Mausner, Kaiti Giritlian

Keep Moving, Nothing to See Here

What I’ve been working on this weekend:

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I’m in a site-specific composition class, and we’re currently working on film projects set in various significant locations on Barnard’s campus for an installation during the school’s Founders Day event. Between shooting my project and dancing in other people’s projects, this means dancing in staircases, student centers, and gyms (and I wasn’t in the library group).

It also means sometimes coming into conflict with security guards and have to repeatedly explain that yes, we are cleared to be here, no, the building won’t break, and yes, we know it’s not a dance studio–that’s the definition of site specificity.

Personally, I would have liked to catch a security encounter on camera, since my film relates to violating rules and expectations of movement in public spaces. That didn’t happen.

But what’s just as interesting is the reactions of the “normal people” in the space. There are some people who will stop and watch, clap, and ask us questions about our dancing and our project. There are some people who look at us like we’re crazy.

But the majority just pretend not to notice. Of course, they do notice–they do double-takes with their eyeballs and might whisper something to the person next to them–but they just keep walking, making sure not to make eye contact. They maintain the choreographed motion of normality, as if a regular pace and a fixed frontal gaze were enough to preserve the illusion that nothing is off. Like if you keep moving like everything is normal, maybe it is.