D.I.A. Kollective gathered as a community of creatives as a result of the initial COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. When activities were limited, Kadeem Faustin, Charmaine Headley, Aisha Nicholson, and Debbie Nicholls-Skerritt gathered outdoors to safely connect with each other and nature. As a result of the circumstances that caused these artists to collide outdoors, they choreographed and produced 12:12:21 Seeking Balance as an audience engaged production.
The title 12:12:21 Seeking Balance pays homage to when D.I.A. Kollective was originally slated to carry out the project and was forced to reschedule due to the pandemic. A nod to the ever changing state of the world, it relates to the feelings experienced in response to COVID-19. The choreography draws from the wooden tower game, Jenga. The feeling of anxiety around choosing a piece to remove from the tower, followed by the wave of relief when the tower does not fall serves as a metaphor for how the world was affected by the pandemic.
This summer, in 2022, D.I.A. Kollective was finally able to present the piece to the public as part of Arts in the Parks.
At Thompson Memorial Park, the grassy stage was set amidst a circle of young trees. The performance began with Debby who gave a verbal introduction to the project and then gave way to Kadeem who delivered a demonstration and tutorial on the main dance sequence used for Seeking Balance so the audience could follow along. Audience members were invited to join in the circle and interact with two sets of Jenga blocks set in the centre of the stage by playing the game and restacking the towers once they fell while dancers performed around them. This dynamic illustrates the tension between shifting states of mind, body, and spirit and their connection to the game.
Audience members drifted in upon hearing the music. People were seated all around the implied stage marked by trees, captivated by the flowing movements of the dancers.
The concept of the Seeking Balance is incredibly unique, from the choreography to the costumes; everything was thought through immaculately. I loved seeing this new perspective, expressing how it felt to grapple with sudden shifts of the pandemic and the community it helped build as a result.
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