Episode 44 - Real Dance in a Virtual Reality with Charly Wenzel
Charly Wenzel is a dancer, choreographer and virtual reality filmmaker. You may be able to tell from her accent that she’s originally from Germany. She moved to New York nearly 15 years ago to continue to study dance. It was there at the Alvin Ailey School that Charly met Teresa Fellion who you may remember from Episode 25.
Charly danced for Teresa in the early days of Teresa’s company. After a few years exploring other creative venues including film, Charly joined forces with Teresa once again. Charly recognizes both her and Teresa’s styles have evolved over time making their collaborative efforts richer and more exciting. She currently works as the rehearsal director for Body Stories: Teresa Fellion Dance.
Charly Wenzel is a big fan of immersive art. She currently performs in Third Rail Projects' immersive dance theatre piece, Then She Fell. The long-running performance piece moves the audience from room to room to meet different characters in the story. Then She Fell is based on the writings and life of Lewis Carroll and his interactions with Alice Liddell.
Charly Wenzel just started working on a new piece for Body Stories set to premier in December at Triskelion Arts in Brooklyn, New York. Starting a dance piece from scratch begins with experimenting in the studio where the artists must imagine audience reactions while creating movement that tells a story. According to Charly, an immersive show gives performers an intimate experience with the audience.
Charly believes audience intimacy helped her develop her skills directing dancers because anything can happen. An audience member who interacts with storytellers becomes part of the performance rather than passively watching a show. Cynthia Hennon Marino talked about this as well in Episode 41.
In addition to live performance, Charly experiments with the storytelling possibilities of film. Her independent dance films use location, angles, and the ability to move in and out with a lens. Charly collaborates with a film director to create clear story focus. In filmmaking, as in theatre, each artist brings a skill set to the medium that makes it more exciting. Her film projection designs for Body Stories created a conversation between the live performers onstage and the images on screen.
Currently, Charly is working on an immersive virtual reality dance piece on film. According to Charly, film festivals focusing on virtual reality films are creating a demand for experiential viewing. In virtual reality filming, the camera shoots 360 degrees. It creates some challenges as the 360 view can reveal crew members, equipment, and things you might ordinarily be able to avoid. The compelling part of virtual reality filming is that it creates choice for the audience. A 360 director must account for audience choice while shooting.
Concise Advice from the Interview:
9 Keep your overall vision for a performance clear
8 Good ideas are like a ingredients that you can come back to or choose not to use
7 Every project helps you grow as an artist
6 Surround yourself with people you can learn from
5 Find people who want to work together to achieve a common goal
4 Keep an open mind
3 Find your own voice by immersing yourself in your art
2 Don’t worry about what you think people want to see
1 Stay true to your voice
Check out the blog, SallyPAL.com, for articles and podcast episodes. You, too, can be a Sally PAL! Don’t forget, Emile and I will be at New York’s Town Stages with a live feed on Wednesday, August 8 starting at 2pm EST. Join me and Emile to celebrate one year of SallyPAL and performing arts “in the greatest city in the world!” The link for the August 8 live feed is: https://youtu.be/_lXNAtZiIvM.
Thank you for following, sharing, subscribing, reviewing, joining, & thank you for listening. If you’re downloading and listening on your drive to work, or falling asleep to my live feed like my sister will, let me know you’re out there. Storytelling through performance is the most important thing we do as a culture. That’s why I encourage you to share your stories because you’re the only one with your particular point of view. And SallyPAL is here with resources, encouragement, and a growing community of storytellers. All the stories ever expressed once lived only in someone’s imagination… Now… Stay true to your voice!
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