Cabrillo Pageant goes to the burn scar in musical meditation on the devastation of CZU

For the 2nd consecutive summer months, the Cabrillo Competition of Up to date Tunes is an on line-only affair mainly because of … nicely, we all know by now, ideal?

But at the very least in conditions of the festival’s 1st main presentation, “Contested Eden,” a virtual practical experience is most likely the greatest practical experience.

By its character, “Eden” would have resisted a dwell, in-man or woman viewers anyway, simply because the location is just also distant and fragile. And, in this individual piece, the placing is the issue.

“Eden” is the get the job done of Berkeley-based mostly composer and pianist Gabriela Lena Frank. It’s a meditation on the devastation wrought by last summer’s CZU fires in the Santa Cruz Mountains. And as an alternative of obtaining the new music and the musicians relay the electric power of the piece by yourself on some sound stage, the Cabrillo Competition brought in a smaller coterie of dancers and took them out to the melt away scar by itself, to conduct to the audio amid the ruin.

Santa Cruz’s Molly Katzman, the corporation director at the Tannery Planet Dance & Cultural Middle, led 4 other dancers to a burned-out web site in the mountains very last April, in which they recorded a overall performance of her choreography set to Frank’s composition. That footage, shot by Santa Cruz-dependent Swan Dive Media, will debut at the virtual festival on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Cabrillo Competition executive director Ellen Primack brought in Katzman and the videographers at Swan Dive and charged them with getting areas in the mountains that could greatest illustrate the feeling of decline and desolation the piece was hoping to communicate.

“A large amount of it was just achieving out to the community, to pals who had been impacted by the fires, chatting on social media,” explained Joel Hersch of Swan Dive Media, who shot the movie with his partners Michael Daniel and Eric Snow, “until we at some point figured out how to get an invite to go up and see the areas.”

The team finished up zeroing in on two internet sites, one particular near Año Nuevo Condition Park, and yet another in the remote group of Last Possibility, perhaps the neighborhood most ravaged by the CZU fires. As envisioned by means of Frank’s music, the filmed piece would little by little development from a bleak moonscape of ash to a landscape a bit additional eco-friendly to point out hope and regeneration. Very last Chance was preferred for the former.

“Oh, just scouting that locale was a devastating, eerie emotion,” remembered Katzman. “There was magnificence to it, but it was brutal for guaranteed.”

Katzman and her dancers ended up in communication with the composer when Frank was continue to composing the do the job. The moment a web-site was picked, they had to the two enact a certain choreography and be flexible ample to respond in the second to the surroundings.

“When we would go up to internet sites,” reported Katzman, “I would physically shift as a result of the room, you know, to experience the land beneath my toes. 1st of all, (I experienced to ascertain) can we move? Is it risk-free? What am I viewing that we can use so that we’re really interacting with the land, in romance with the land?”

A scene from "Contested Eden."

The hilly web-site was covered in ash with twisted branches of blackened, denuded trees silhouetted in opposition to a significant gray sky.

“It was real,” reported Katzman. “When you touched a tree, your hand is black, or when you sit on a log or something. And observing that on a shifting body, like ash on someone’s facial area or on the palm of your hand, that will make you sense something.”

The Swan Dive group experienced its possess choreography to perform out, capturing on the floor with the dancers and by drone for sweeping vista photographs. “The film definitely follows the dancers,” said Hersch. “They’re seriously entrance and middle, and it’s their character and their dancing that carries the film forward.”

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If the dancers had been collaborating with an absent composer, they ended up also in full inventive collaboration with the filmmakers. “Molly is bouncing in between owning locked-in choreography and examining the instant,” reported Hersch. “And we experienced to be definitely tuned into that as we match what she’s carrying out. And, at the exact time, we had to chat to her about what would translate on camera, and occasionally it’s conference each and every other halfway so that you know the conclude end result is something that an audience can sense genuinely excellent about.”

Some in the dancing team experienced been deeply influenced by the fires, and the environment of producing artwork in these types of a devastated landscape carried with it a palpable emotional cost. But neither the dancers nor filmmakers could allow for on their own to get missing in that psychological whirlpool.

“We were undertaking a whole lot of actual physical function,” claimed Hersch, “moving up and down steep terrain, climbing above logs and rocks. It’s exhausting as nicely for Molly and the dancers, and that exhaustion really sets in when we ask the crew of dancers to do it for the fourth time due to the fact we know we can get yet another angle on it that is definitely heading to make it glow.”

“There were just so a lot of hats I had to wear,” explained Katzman, “that I felt myself slipping into a a lot more logistical facet, since there was also a time crunch and a perception of urgency. Searching back, I want we could have gone slower, simply because I was sensation the body weight of the second and wanting to honor what took place and what folks experienced shed, as properly as the devastation and the dread of local climate adjust. So, there would be times the place I would just take a breath and consider about that. And then there were being moments wherever I was just like, go, go, go.”

“Contested Eden” will debut Saturday evening at the all-digital Cabrillo Competition of Present-day Audio.

A scene from "Contested Eden"

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