Megan Bridge is an experimental choreographer who is adept in creative collaboration with her musical composer and husband, Peter Price. On November 6th, 2020, she premiered her choreographic work, The Alt.terre, for the fall MFA thesis dance concert. This work, though originally conceived as an interactive choreography of the senses set for the proscenium stage, has shifted to be experienced through the digital forum. Finding herself in a new collaborative undertaking that needed to be highly visual, she pushed her boundaries in creating a world for the audience to experience.
The Alt.terre, at its heart, is a choreographic investigation about consciousness, presence, and altered states. With “Space Witch” vibes, the dancers move through the space intentionally and confidently, sharing weight and inverting their bodies in effortless balance to one another. The music is captivating and reminded me of the crystal ball prop that was used throughout the piece. The layers and magnification of the music made just for these dancers to engage with filled my imaginative mind with swirling wonder.
Megan says that she planned for the dancers to breach the fourth wall of the stage and ask questions and have conversations with the audience. She wanted the five senses to enliven in different ways throughout the performance. One example she planned on was baking banana bread backstage during the dance so that the audience could smell the aroma, which she would serve to the audience to also experience the taste of the banana bread.
With the shift from a live stage performance to a recorded film screening of the performance, she had to let go of the senses such as taste and smell. She focused her attention on the visual and touch elements of her work by incorporating a kaleidoscopic projection overlaying the dancers, sharing a beautiful exploration of touch. She found that touch became meaningful to her choreography in more ways than she initially thought because of the absence of audience interactivity and the pandemic. She wanted the audience to be able to see more examples of this touch because the audience wouldn’t be able to experience it through the screen. She also felt that since the pandemic started, the experience of touch had become a gift to her and the dancers. To experience two human’s hands coming together or a hug was something that has been missed in these times of isolation, so this heightened the need to give the audience the experience of touch back to them, even if it is visual at the moment.
Through this process of creating her thesis digitally, she found that her values in dance cannot be truly translated into film. Megan spoke about how her artistry focuses on engaging audiences in touch and human experience, and she felt like the best way for her to convey these feelings is within the live audience context. She realizes that this work may not have met all those values, but sees this as the first iteration of a series of works that investigate these sensory experiential performances. This may be the visual portion of a work and later, when we are able to perform safely in person, she would like to revisit her ideas of sense of smell and taste to complete this sensory journey.
In seeking advice for aspiring artists, Megan shared that understanding your artistic values is important in creating work that is satisfying to you and to not be swayed by other artistic aesthetics. She said that the drive to create a product is detrimental right now in our society when we may need the art to heal or connect, and not necessarily as a means of self promotion. She also said to focus on how, not what. Meaning that what you are doing in your artistry is great, but it is imperative to question how it is shared and understood by the audience and participants and to find ways to shift audience consciousness in new or better ways.
Megan’s thesis concert The Alt.terre was a wonderful human experience for me, and I am grateful for this first installment of sensory activation. I look forward to the future performances that will allow me to connect with other audience members and art in new ways. It will be a refreshing celebration to be with other humans again after this time of separation, though so worth it for all to be safe.
If you would like to learn more about Megan’s dance company, Fidget, for future performances, pictures of The Alt.terre, and dance opportunities, you can visit her website at: https://www.thefidget.org/
Megan’s dance company’s Instagram: @thefidget_space