Callie Chapman

[Blend], excerpt, live video/dance mix, 2020, 10:58 min.
Media Design: Callie Chapman
Contributing artists include: Fukudance (Junichi Fukada), Sara June, Adrienne Hawkins, Alli Ross, Rising Step (Rebecca McGowan) and Papa Sy.
Music by Ivan Korn.
Presented by the Somerville Arts Council as part of ArtBeat Somerville

For a transcript of the video, click here.
The video opens with a black screen and scrolling white credits text. Music begins and a woman spinning in a purple leotard appears on the black screen, clones of her figure repeat the movements iteratively as she continues to dance. Another figure in red emerges from the center, walking in slow circles and continuing to dance towards the center of the screen. A bright light emerges from the center of the screen, where the iterations combine. The multiplied figures occupy the same space as they dance, though they never meet, as though in parallel universes.

Another figure appears in the foreground wearing a striped dress, her movements are mirrored on either side of the woman in red. The woman in red falls away leaving the new figure who moves slowly as her iterative shadows continue to revolve.

A new woman appears in the center of the screen, further away than the others, wearing black as she steps forward slowly. The woman in the dress fades away while the woman in black caresses something in her hand. Her figure is repeated in a pulse-like pattern, the iterations distorted by color and visual static as she steps closer and closer to the camera. Many vertical lines of light fill the screen, moving towards the center and joining to form a woman’s face before scattering once more.

New figures fade in, cast in bright colors - a man and a woman dancing together, overlayed by the same man and woman dancing another dance in a different time.

They fade out as a figure in a red dress appears kneeling in the center of the screen, her arms outstretched and moving slowly. Her figure appears to effervesce, as particles of color fizz up from her body. She moves across the screen, undulated and shimmying as she steps into a blue cool of light. As she dances her body continues to dissolve into fragments of color, and then she is doubled, tripled, multiplied into a row of doppelgangers moving as an echo of her. The versions of the woman move on and off screen, decreasing in number until there is only one figure on the screen.

This figure also wears red, though she appears younger and is wearing a different dress. A pair of feet dance in and out of the screen in the foreground, overlapping with the image of the woman as the screen fades to black.

Intimate touch has been out of reach for so many dancers during COVID. For a creative practice that relies so much on the call-and-response of bodies interacting with one another in space, this time has been isolating to say the least. Artist and dancer Callie Chapman’s piece, [Blend], a hybrid of live-streamed video and live performance, calls into question the ways in which we interact with movement in real life and in digital spaces. By manipulating recordings of her own dancing and the movements of her dancer-collaborators, Chapman introduces a new kind of interactivity to creative dance practices.

After filming individual dance performances, Chapman mixed and manipulated the cuts, live-streaming and projecting the resulting video as she went. Throughout the event, comments and reactions coming from viewers brought about more inspiration, bringing a sense of live co-creation to the digital video collage. Chapman curated collaborative movement in a time when communal movement has been so restricted for anyone, but especially for dancers.

Having integrated projection with live performance throughout her career, Chapman naturally turned to projection for this piece as it provided an accessible way for viewers to experience the piece from afar. Throughout the piece, Chapman circles around the concept of biofeedback, and how it can be achieved in digital space by layering or placing dancers near one another. Nearly all of the dancers in the piece performed alone, a manifestation  of the solitary conditions of quarantine. Even though most didn’t dance in the same space, Chapman’s treatment of their bodies puts their movements in conversation with one another in a mesmerizing way, such that one might forget the isolation around us.

— An Uong

Artist Biography

Callie Chapman is a multidisciplinary designer, video artist, choreographer, and curator. Based in greater Boston, Callie was awarded the 2020 choreography fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Choreography. Callie founded Studio@550 in 2016, a multidisciplinary arts studio which was located in Central Sq, Cambridge. Callie’s video and projection design has been commissioned for companies such as Odyssey Opera, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Prometheus Dance, Pa Sy Dance, and Corrector Records. Enjoying the thrill of live performances, Callie’s affinity for combining live dance performance and generative video art is where her interest lies.

For a playlist of her work: