Beyond The Canvas Episode 1: Making the Music
A dance troupe self-isolates, but finds an online venue
Karina Mitchell: Last summer, NewsHour Weekend spoke with New York city dancer and choreographer Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray about a new dance style he helped pioneer called "Flexn".
Now, almost a year later, New York's performance spaces have been shut down. But that doesn't mean Gray and his fellow dancers have stopped creating. NewsHour Weekend's Ivette Feliciano has more.
Reggie Gray: We love the stage. We love being in a place where it's full of--full of people when everyone's around us. It's that give and receive feel, you know? We're just waiting for that moment again to happen so we can, you know, express our creative, freedom within our movement.
Ivette Feliciano: Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray and his dance troupe, D.R.E.A.M. Ring, may not be appearing on a stage any time soon, but they've found a new venue online--as part of a new digital art series, "Up Close", presented by New York City art center, The Shed. D.R.E.A.M. Ring's new work is called "Revelation of Proverbs"--a callback to the Bible verses Gray was reading when The Shed commissioned the piece.
Reggie Gray: Oddly enough, I was actually reading Proverbs. They're these short sayings of just wisdom. And then you think about revelation, that's what it feels like right now in the sense of your loneliness, right? Of you--if you being quarantined in a place and it's, like, OK, well, I can't go outside because I'm scared, I'm nervous, I don't want to get caught up, I might have--I might have pre-existing condition. Like, no one knows what's going on. So like th--there's this spiritual awakening where it's like, OK, well, I have something here to create within. And how do we bring this out?
Ivette Feliciano: Were you guys able to meet at all? Was it all done online?
Reggie Gray: It definitely was all done online. The dancers come up with their own ideas. They come up with their way of doing things. And we got on a Zoom call, we just started talking about what's happening right now. What's it feel like? You know what I'm saying? Are you becoming more creative? Are you working out more? Like what is happening in your life that's for the good and for the bad? What are your pros and cons? And they started to put it in their movement.
Ivette Feliciano: And what kind of environments are your dancers performing in?
Reggie Gray: Kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms. Anywhere I guess it feels like a story could be told. Everybody got their beards and their hair all messed up. But it's--it's all good, though. Like, it's--it's liberating, actually,
Ivette Feliciano: What are some of your thoughts about creating performance art during the time of social distancing?
Reggie Gray: It's nothing like performing live, 'cause you really need that human exchange. You really want that feeling. Digitally, it feels like it takes the soul a bit, but it's still there. You know, we have to use what we have. We're actually using social media for what it's meant to be used for, right? Art is something to bring everyone together and to not let art die out, we have to use our technology.
We have to use our ways of connecting through the airwaves, through video, you know, to make something worthwhile, so people can look at something and be inspired. So people can look at some--someone and say, "Hey, well, I can do that." Or, "I can make this." You know, "I don't have to just lay in my bed all day and be depressed or be scared about what's happening."
Be creative. Work out. Do things you've never done before. Cook recipes. I've become a chef lately. I did not know I could cook this good until I started cooking--until I was--until I was quarantined. I've--I've really started, like, following recipes and cooking and I'm like, "Oh, well! I can actually cook!" Now is the time to get whatever you had out and just let it flourish.