Viewers interact with performers through blogs and videos
They talked to themselves out loud uttering words of frustration, sadness, guilt and pain. Each dancer shamelessly expressed how they felt — some cursing — as they spoke over one another in unison.
"It was like kissing a corpse!" one said.
"I just wanted to get back with him," said the other.
"I thought we were supposed to be honest," another dancer said.
Verbal expressions slowly turned into physical actions. They used their bodies to "speak." The dancers grunted, pulled their hair, breathed heavily, as they gradually began the choreography.
The interactive rehearsal is being documented to share online. Archived rehearsals will culminate in a live final performance. The videos are published on the web so the creation process is not only kept within the studio – but also shared with the rest of the world.
Contemporary artists Jenn Doan and Taryn Javier created this online project called Inlayers. The project is innovative in terms of trying to communicate contemporary dance to a larger audience.
As Doan said, "There's no geographical limit when it comes to this project."
"We're peeling away the layers and revealing the creative process of contemporary dance for the public to view online," she explained.
All audiences — dancers or not — can get involved with their blogs and "webisodes" by commenting.
"We're now able to discuss things and ask questions — have people ask us while in the process," Doan said.
Their online audience is primarily Canadian. Vimeo, a video-sharing website used by Inlayers, also allows others countries such as the United States, Moscow and Thailand to view their work.
Javier said she was surprised to receive a message from a supporter who resides in Detroit. The viewer was interested in taking part in the project and asked if Inlayers needed another dancer.
Patricia Allison, another fan from Toronto, is heavily involved in the project. She communicates with the dancers by commenting on each blog post, watching and reposting their videos on her social networks.
"I have spent a large portion of my life trying to describe to people exactly what it is I do in rehearsal for so many hours and now there is a concrete source that I can direct them to," Allison said.
"That actually makes a large impact on my life."
Some viewers choose to comment by making a personal phone call, sending an email or a Facebook message.
However, Javier is pushing Inlayers supporters to comment through public blog posts to give others the chance to engage. Regardless of its direction, some viewers are still participating in unexpected ways.
"Most people are actually doing personal reflections of their own self," Javier said.
Some viewers write about their own experiences rather than commenting on the choreography.
Doan explained that the Inlayers website isn't only about dancing.
"We're sharing personal stories and why we dance," she said.
Melina Stinson, who's been dancing with Inlayers since it started in 2009, said that documenting their rehearsals also gives them a chance to see the final product from an outsider's point of view.
"With this project, the process is also the performance," Stinson added.
"Unlike visual artists, when they create a sculpture or a painting, they can take a step back and take a look at it," she said. "We never get to do that as dancers because we are the paint."
The project is a proposed trilogy that was first produced and performed in Montreal in 2009. The second installment, revealing the five-week creation, will premier on Feb. 10 and 11 at Ant Hill Building in Kensington. For more information, visit http://inlayers.ca/.
- By KIAN SUMALPONG