New York City–based nonprofit Eryc Taylor Dance (ETD) looks back at a year in lockdown and celebrates its fifteenth anniversary with its first dance film, Uncharted Territory: Dancers in Isolation. The half-hour work premieres on YouTube on March 21 at 6:00, introduced by Robbie Fairchild, after which it will be available on demand March 22–28.
Conceived and developed over Zoom beginning last March, Uncharted Territory is divided into five segments, each featuring one dancer portraying a character, filming themselves indoors and/or outdoors, with an original score by Daniel Tobias. “My husband was one of the first to suffer a Covid-19 infection for three excruciating weeks in March, Tobias said in a statement. “He survived, but it scared me to death. When Eryc Taylor asked me to compose music for Uncharted Territory, there was already a tsunami of emotions heading his way. Each dancer’s story helped me process this tragic epic global pandemic, and I hope the music helped them as well.”
In “Movement One: Solitude,” set to Tobias’s acoustic guitar composition “Distancia,” Taylor Ennen is Spenser, a young woman in danger of unraveling, gliding through her family’s apartment in a short, loose-fitting dress as she grabs a bottle of wine, wriggles on a table under a Noguchi Akari lamp, and sits in a rocking chair; editor Benny Krown incorporates doubling, mirroring, and ghosting as Spenser wrestles with her mind.
In “Movement Two: In-Memoriam,” set to Tobias’s wind-chime “Bahay ni Lola Grandmother’s House,” AJ Guevara is Ivan, who is grieving for his grandmother, who died alone from the coronavirus. The piece begins with birds flying in a blue sky before following Ivan as he puts on his grandmother’s jewelry and starts a ritual fire in her backyard, near a handmade sign that reads, “Lola & Papa’s Nest: Where the Flock Gathers.” In “Movement Three: Meltdown,” Alex Tenreiro Theis is Dani, an attorney who has just lost her job, going from the kitchen to the bedroom as Tobias’s “Dark City” swirls around her, with quick cuts, backward and forward jumps, slow motion, and emotional thermal colors ultimately enveloping her.
In “Movement Four: Manhunt,” set to Tobias’s “Path,” Chris Bell plays an anonymous, lonely man seeking a random sexual encounter in the woods by a muddy lake, by the side of a highway, and at a city bus stop. And finally, rehearsal director Nicole Baker is a nurse fighting paranoia and doubt in “Movement Five: Compulsion,” roaming from her bed to her car to a gravel driveway to an outdoor shower, trying to keep herself together as Tobias’s keyboard-based “Nurses Rhapsody” sweeps over a scene occasionally bathed in a blue tint.
Uncharted Territory: Dancers in Isolation was shot by each dancer in Queens, the West Village, Marshfield, Massachusetts, Brooklyn, and Grover Beach, California. ETD, whose previous works include Cycles, Into the Light, and The Missing, dedicate the new piece “to all artists who persevere, find their fire, and create during one of the most challenging times of our lives.”
In addition, there will be several events on Instragam Live (@eryctaylordance): a Q&A with Krown on March 22 at 6:00, a 5x5 interview with photographer Shannel Resto on March 23 at 6:00, and a Q&A with Baker on March 25 at 6:00.