by Florian Lochner
Set by Kaili Story
Costumes by Jenni Ladd
Sound by Florian Lochner
Photography by Todd Rosenberg
Produced by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at The Harris (Chicago, IL) in 2018
Das Feld, choreographed by Florian Lochner and performed by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, is about the exploration of life and death. Florian began his process by interviewing each dancer with a series of questions centered on life and death: how they would want to be remembered, how we remember people, and how life is important to them. These interviews became the base and premise of the work and the recordings were used in the score as well.
We often think of death as something that happens after you have lived, but in my conversations with Florian we quickly decided that, that was not as interesting to us as exploring the circle of life backwards, from death to life. The idea of us envisioning a reversal, from death to life, became the trajectory and inspiration for the lighting design. We were attracted to this idea of compression, a sense of compressing humanity, which lead to the visual appeal of physically compressing the dancers with light. I designed a rig that could function at a very low trim so the dancers lived in a world where they felt weighed down by the lights while we were in the stages of death. As we transition towards life, soft colors of light blue hues are introduced into the space and eventually the electrics lift to varying heights. By the time we approach the beginning of life, a.k.a. birth, the lights that were their compression have lifted to a gridded trim and progressively become brighter and brighter until they are almost unbearably bright and white.
My design approach to this piece felt like the trajectory of an arrow. Pulling the arrow back on its quiver in the darkness, only your thoughts to surround you, until you release your breath and let go; that breath in the beginning of the number was the breath of letting that arrow go. From there the arrow can only go forwards and so the design had to as well. Much like the idea of a threshold concept, what is learned cannot be unlearned and so the lights must always shift to a new position and continue on their trajectory from darkness to light.