Dance ATL’s A.M. Collaborative “taste” offers a window into the creative process and a preview of what’s up next for the arts in Atlanta
By Robin Wharton
On February 26, at 7 pm, DanceATL will host a “taste” of works that have emerged over the last five months from the A.M. Collaborative’s “blend,” “grind,” and “brew” project phases. The showing will take place online, and will provide audiences with a tantalizing preview of what the Atlanta arts scene has on tap for Spring and Fall of 2021. An initiative of DanceATL’s Education and Mentorship Committee, A.M. Collaborative has drawn together an interdisciplinary community of 24 of Atlanta’s most innovative art makers to support and sustain each other’s artistic inquiries, providing accountability, fellowship, and a space in which to explore and interrogate new ideas and creative methods. For some artists, collaboration meant jointly creating a single work. For others, collaboration involved creating accountability partnerships to guide development of individually-composed work. Comprising creative writers, photographers, poets, visual artists, costume designers, performance artists, and of course, dancers, A.M. Collaborative’s inaugural cohort has crafted a menu that is sure to satisfy a wide range of artistic cravings.
A promotional video on the A.M. Collaborative webpage offers the curious a glimpse into where the project has taken some of the artists. Collaborating virtually and in-person, operating within the constraints imposed by the pandemic, the group demonstrates how performance art has been reconfigured by masking, social distancing, voluntary isolation, and a move into outdoor and other non-traditional spaces. It is also a testament to the vibrant durability of Atlanta’s creative energy and the importance of community in a time of crisis. Free and open to the public, “taste” will feature live-streamed performance as well as made-for-virtual works that can be sampled at one’s leisure. After the live-stream portion of the program, the A.M. Collaborative coordinators will open the floor for discussion about the artists' process and a question and answer session with the audience. DanceATL asks that attendees register in advance, and more details and conversation about the event are available on the A.M. Collaborative Facebook “taste” event page.
Offerings will be at various points on the “in progress” continuum. Raven Crosby, for example, plans to share the research, thematic frame, and storyboard ideas for a dance film that she is creating. Ania Bartelmus and Pendu Malik will focus their presentation on how their choreography is emerging from the resonances they have discovered in their life experiences and how they approach their respective artistic traditions, flamenco and West African dance. Andie Knudson and Jenn Klammer will be premiering a working edit of their dance film. Michael Boatright and Keith Reeves will share their full-length documentary of Reeves's October 2020 Bodies In Motion show. Rene Nesbit and Christina Venditti will include an encore showing of their duet, "Slow Burn," which premiered on February 13 as part of Nesbit's show, Through Deep Waters. HG Gruebmeyer, a poet, and A Raheim White, a movement and spoken word artist, will perform their works live. Overall, over 20 individuals will be presenting some sort of research.
Although it will be presented virtually, "taste" will scratch the itch most audiences have for the live, in-person performances that have been put on hold over the past year and are still too few and too far between until gathering together indoors is safer. It will also be a celebration of the art being made--and how it has sustained us all--during a historically difficult moment of crisis and upheaval. A number of the A.M. Collaborative cohort moved to Atlanta after the pandemic began, and the project offered them an opportunity to connect with colleagues. Forced to find alternative platforms for creating and performing, some of the artists embraced and harnessed the potential for abundance inherent in virtual platforms. Loren McFalls, for example, will be showing a dance film stitched together from clips provided by her collaborators from across the US. In their dance and spoken word creation, Leo Briggs and Frankie Mulinix integrate responses to a digital survey they circulated. Taken as a whole, the program’s emphasis on perseverance, innovation, and community will foreground art as a collective experience both in its creation and reception. It will offer the audience an opportunity for much-needed connection and fellowship as we look forward with hope to the end of our literal and figurative pandemic winter.