CHLOÉ ALCID: ON BODY IMAGE AND VULNERABILITY IN PERFORMING ONLINEBY MARIE ALBERTO
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PRACTICE?
My practice is inquisitive, mindful and it comes from a place of deep listening. Sometimes, I have an idea in mind that I want to explore or I hear a song that I want to move to but, for the most part, I try to let it be spontaneous and expressive of whatever I feel at any given moment.
HOW DID THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND BODY IMAGE?
For the most part, my mental health has been relatively stable, despite some stressful elements like not having seen my family who live abroad for almost a year and a half now, and not getting to dance/work/perform normally. My body image has actually been affected positively as my “studio” at home doesn’t have a mirror.
WHEN DID YOU START DANCING?
I started dancing when I was 4 years old. I got into it the same way many people do: my older sister was in dance class, and I wanted to do what she was doing.
HOW IS THE DANCE COMMUNITY EVOLVING IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Since the start of the pandemic, the dance community here in the Philippines has really utilized the online platform to the fullest, offering classes as well as creating and sharing work. Filipinos are very resourceful and passionate people and these circumstances have proven to be no obstacle for our ability to make with what we have. It’s a little bit tough for these offerings to be made available for everyone since internet connection here is generally pretty bad but I do think that accessibility has increased because that’s something that the dance community here is cognizant of: we try our best to take care of each other and give back to our communities.
HOW DID YOUR TRAINING PATTERNS CHANGE IN BETWEEN LOCKDOWNS AND CURFEWS?
Being in lockdown actually gave me significantly more time to focus on my own training. In 2020, I wasn’t training with any one group or company, so I was left to my own devices, which was fine for me because I’m normally very disciplined with keeping myself active. It was during this time that I really found my groove with improvisation and this was mostly what I focused on, aside from working out and taking dance classes here and there. As of 2021, my routine has changed quite a bit since I am now training regularly but I still try to make time for my own movement exploration and workout regimen.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU PERFORMED ONSTAGE?
The last time I performed on stage was in November 2019, but the last time I performed in front of an audience (in a non-theatre setting) was February 2020.
HOW DO YOU FEEL BEFORE ENTERING A PERFORMANCE STAGE?
Before getting on stage, I feel some nerves and adrenaline rush but, mostly, I feel excited. I’ve learned how to channel the nervous energy in such a way that helps me feel present and in the zone. The act of getting on stage signifies that you’ve done everything you can do to prepare for it, so I always try to make sure I’m ready.
HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER LEAVING THE STAGE?
More often than not, I feel more positively when I leave the stage, unless there was a really glaring mistake. But, even then, I try not to beat myself up too much because there’s nothing I can do about something that already happened. From there, I approach it from the angle of using that performance as a guide or lesson for the next one.
YOU STATED “WHAT USE IS IT CALLING MYSELF A DANCER AND PERFORMER WHEN ALL I’M DOING IS DANCING IN A ROOM BY MYSELF? WHAT AM I EVEN DOING IF I’M NOT WORKING TOWARDS ANYTHING TANGIBLE?” WHAT WOULD YOU ADVISE TO PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLE TO IDENTIFY OR “LABEL” THEMSELVES AS DANCERS AND ON FINDING THEIR OWN VOICE?
On some level, I do think that labels are important in the dance industry. One instance where it’s important is when choreographers and employers are looking for dancers or, similarly, if dancers are looking to see if a job might be the right fit for them, labels simplify the process of understanding what they are/aren’t looking for. However, it’s much more common nowadays for dancers to train in a variety of dance styles and have a fusion of styles in their movement vocabulary and, from that perspective, relying on labels to identify yourself may be insufficient and limiting. Something I would advise to dancers who are struggling with finding their voice is to put the words on hold for now and just move. Put on a song that you want to move to and allow yourself to get lost in it. I recommend taking the time to do this both with and without filming yourself. Having videos to review later is useful so that when you watch them back, you can get a sense of common motifs and patterns that show up and from there, you can start to build on your individual movement vocabulary. Let the movement come first, and then the language will follow later.
DO YOU FEEL VULNERABLE WHEN YOU DANCE?
Dancing, to me, is an incredible display of vulnerability. This rings true for me so much more now than when I was younger and less connected to my body and the roots of what moves me. Performing movement can easily be detached and impersonal, whereas dancing comes from somewhere within you. To be vulnerable when dancing is to live in the intersection of control and abandon, to notice when and where you’re holding back and find places to give a little more.
HOW ARE YOU COPING WITH BEING SEEN ONLINE RATHER THAN ONSTAGE?
Being seen (and seeing others) virtually is definitely not the same as being seen on stage and I’ve spent the better part of the last year slowly, and begrudgingly, coming to terms with that. However, I find comfort in knowing that this situation we’re in is temporary. Even though it might take a while for things in the performing arts to get back to the way they were pre-pandemic, especially here in the Philippines, I feel optimistic that we’ll get there one day and that optimism is what pushes me forward and motivates me to do what I can with what I have right now. At first, feeling that sense of community and connection in a virtual space was very difficult for me, but now I’m starting to feel it more and it’s nice knowing that the digital realm makes it possible for me to connect with people and artists that I wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to connect with.
HOW DID WRITING ALONGSIDE FILMING AND DANCING HELPED YOU OVERCOME SELF-DOUBTS, FRUSTRATION AND FEELINGS OF ANXIETY?
I have always been best at expressing myself through movement and writing and those two practices lend themselves well to one another. When I started an instagram account for my movement work, I wanted it to be a space where I could be more open. I don’t always put thought into my posts, but when I do take the time to post something meaningful that I spent time writing about, those words often arise from a place of frustration, exasperation, and needing to organize the thoughts in my head. When people resonate with what I’ve written, it helps with those feelings of frustration because I feel understood.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE WORK AND BREAK TIMES?
Honestly, I appreciate a slower pace of life and my body does too. I enjoy the work that I do immensely, but I easily get fatigued and sick when I’m overworked, so making sure I have a balance between work, rest, and play has always been important to me. Resting and taking breaks IS productive, despite the messages of ‘hustle culture’ that we’re constantly bombarded by in our capitalistic society, and that balance helps me be better at my work. When I am working, I try to be as efficient as possible so that I have time for all the other stuff that enriches my life equally as much as work does.
COULD YOU STATE THREE THINGS THAT YOU AND/OR DANCE AND MOVEMENT ARTISTS NEED THE MOST AT THE MOMENT?
A big, open space (this is really for me--I’m desperate to travel across the floor and eat up space, but I’m sure other dancers would agree).
Lean into whatever helps you feel connected to yourself, others, and your environment. Right now, that might not be dance, and that’s okay.
To practice being gentle with yourself <3
︎︎︎ Praesent at mi et arcu est
︎︎︎ Consectetur Morbi
︎︎︎ Metus dignissim nibh blandit
︎︎︎ Ut ultrices Rex