Since arriving at WOU, there are very few performances in theatre and dance that I have missed. During this year’s Spring Dance Concert there was a piece that really struck home, as both political and emotional. The efforts of senior student Hayley Ann Evers left me thinking about the piece long after the concert ended. The mixed media piece, Nasty Woman, encapsulated the feelings of women all over America after election night. The seamless video dance performance accompanied by a strong performance poem and live dance really allowed the emotions to sink in.
As part of the annual Spring Dance Concert here on campus, the seniors in the dance program choreograph a piece to be performed. Most student choreographers go through the experience and challenge of putting their motion onto another group of people. It is rare that a student would be allowed to dance in a piece that they choreographed, but after pitching her idea to the dance administrative staff, Evers got the go-ahead for her piece. She then started searching for resources finding almost everything she needed right here on campus.
Evers was lucky enough to know a videographer that was willing to help with the video portion of her mixed media performance. So they started planning how they were going to tackle the filming. They first scouted locations around Portland before planning a the shot list for their two-day filming session. Even with all of this planning, most of it didn’t matter once she was out there filming. The whole experience had a huge learning curve with what would and wouldn’t work. Through the experience she learned to have a real appreciation for people that do film.
After the filming was done it was then time to move on to the editing and capturing the performance poem for voice over. It really took a village complete this project. This included a collaborative effort: Janelle Davis helped with training for how to give the performance poem, Dirk Freymuth did the sound engineering for the poem audio, and Page Scofield was the director of photography. She also had the support of the WOU faculty who have so much love, and sacrificed so much for the students in order for them to succeed.
There were many challenges with creating this piece because of some logistics, but with so much support this wasn’t as much of an issue. When relying on other people, however, you must put a lot of trust in them. With the videographer you have to trust they are getting the shots that you want in the way that you want them that capture the motion at just the right angle. These are things you may not think about doing a stage performance. One of the biggest challenges was there was no one to hide behind.
This topic and concept could have been done poorly and could have been misconstrued, but was executed beautifully. Every part of this piece was purely part of Evers. She said that the piece was, “Completely and entirely, me; my choreography, my voice, my body, my concept.” The vulnerability made it all the more impactful and allowed the audience to connect the the narrative of the story she wanted to tell. This allows for a protest in different light, grabbing the gentleness of the human connection along with vulnerability of art. Change comes from the sparks of empathy and allowing people in.
This experience was an amazing one for Evers, though it was stressful it evolved into something so much better than what she could have ever imagined. They even used pieces she had scrapped at the start of the project for the montage at the beginning. If you would have asked Evers if she would have ever done something like this when she started here at WOU she would have said no, but this experience has pushed Evers to consider going back for some form of film training so she can continue exploring this route. Evers plans to submit her piece to a variety of film festivals all over the country and will eventually release her film onto a public platform at some point in the future.