Dois Apsaras @ DanceFest – A Reflection


Our fearless peerless organizer, Callie Chapman of Zoe Dance, won this amazing grant for her brilliant proposal to showcase dance out in a public space, using a scrim, projector and optional live webcam.

The Dois Apsaras took up the challenge and created a dance drama piece, engaging the unique live webcam technology, accompanied by Michael Dwan Singh on sarangi and moog.

We presented “Releasing the Apsara from Stone: Studying the Body as Temple. Part III”

Performers: Melissa Huser (dancer), Pampi (concept + dancer), Michael Dwan Singh (composer, sarangi, vocals)

Special thanks to Jada Yvette (sitar), Natalie Claudio (transportation + makeup), Nirishka Sylvester (paste prep)

Photography by Kristophe Diaz (event) & Callie Chapman (tech rehearsal)

Our intention was to evoke the fluidity of body as temple and temple as body. Components for this piece include live improvised music, live dance and performance, and live visual art. < STORY BELOW >

We did two tech rehearsals and rehearsed an additional three times without the technology. It was a sharp learning curve adjusting to the sense of time and space, composing and framing our bodies with the projection and web cam. In fact, it was a bit like falling into Wonderland. Given the inherent dangers when space and time disappear, we realized we needed to be confident in our storyline – our audience were very much in real time and we needed to keep their attention. In Callie, we found a responsive and sensitive collaborator. She shifted our piece to a later spot so we would go up with the evening’s last light and cheerfully helped us set the best settings for the technology so our piece would show as evocatively as possible.

Night of, we ran through the story before heading to the site. Because of rain delay, we had little opportunity to really test sound, line up the webcam, or mark the space for lining up the projected images with our real bodies.

Fortunately, the very capable Callie was manning the lights and projector – and our audience was game!

This is one of those performances where, as a performer, I had to guess what I was projecting. I reminded myself through it to be true in myself and maintain contact with my fellow performers. Synergy was key to its success.

I am waiting to hear detailed feedback, but the overall reception seems positive – makes us want to do a similar piece again! Will add more 😉

VIDEO from Tech Rehearsal the night before


Basically we marked two spaces, one of reality (with webcam) and the other of fantasy (projection). There are three characters: Melissa plays a temple dancer and Michael her court musician. Together, they are the fantasy of an ancient past that my character obsesses about. I might be a naked sadhu in my artist studio trying to get close to this fantasy. Our fantasy world is the section of the scrim with the projection. Melissa responds to my projected fantasy quite literally by viewing the projection (of me). I draw her obsessively – it becomes unclear whether she is actually responding to my drawings or determining my drawings. I am so obsessed I realize I might be able to contain her in my body as her temple. Over time we begin to break the invisible boundaries, namely the physically invisible lateral one between her space and mine. When I trespass into her space unwittingly, she is expelled from her Paradise and sees the starkness of my world in reality. She is disoriented and runs in the darkness. I am in wonder, chasing her on the scrim. Ultimately, after confronting me, she graciously offers me her space for a moment in time. It is here that I begin to accept the idiosycracies I developed chasing my fantasy for so long. We can never be physically in the same world for very long – kind of like how I am when I go see my grandmother in India, but those memories affect me deeply profoundly, shaping my fantasies. This might be a story of a girl who creates her identity based on fantasy. This might be a story of the woman she becomes when she comes into her own skin. This might be a story of the woman who still houses her girlhood fantasies in the temple that is her body.

Tanya :: “The curtain in front of your dance, created this lovely dream-like quality.”

Heidi :: “like in a fever”

Collin :: “So beautiful! Mwah! Bask in the admiration. You turned it.”

Kristophe :: “Definitely a big crowd. Lot’s of people on all three sides. For sure.”

Debbie :: “And everyone was so quiet watching. They are so enchanting dancing together.”

G :: “I think you work with fringe and ambiguity, dreams and symbolism that are not necessarily obvious but because of that are also more meaningful… Going deeper in the example, that night of your dance in Somerville, folks were seeing something nobody ever sees, all of what you did was unfamiliar, undefined and with a rythm and pace to which we are not acusstomed. And yet, did you notice this was the piece that drew the most attention of any of the ones presented, many of the type everyone is so familiar with? There was something we experienced, both intimatily and individually, as well as as a group when we saw your performance. Why did that happened? I am not sure what I am saying really, but I know there was something different. Perhaps all of us are more drawn to fringe, dream and ambiguity than we are allowed to admit. I personally love it…. and most of the most important things in life don’t need to be explained. I cout watch you dance forever.”