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Bin Chickens Up Close


November 4, 2020


On November 12th, Alyssa Martin will be at home with Lucky Charms and Doritos, watching her film, Bin Chicken, shot over one day, in what she calls, “a bootcamp in adaptability.” If you’re looking for a little “brain vacation,” and aren’t we all, she thinks you should tune in too.

This time last year I spoke with Alyssa for a piece in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of The Dance Current magazine, as she was preparing to go into a creation period for the piece. With the plan of premiering in March 2020, her aim was to conceive, “a trip to a trash-chicken-themed-mood-palace where time stands still.” When asked if the film takes us on the same journey, Martin shares that a massive shift has taken place in the work: “Now, it feels more like a curious little visit to a palatial bin chicken world where time is whipping by and they’re negotiating that in an entirely different way. They’re applying their trashy little bin chicken mentality to a more complicated world.”

When faced with the challenge of premiering the work in a safe way, Alyssa bravely decided to make a film, despite never having directed in the medium before. Luckily, her friend, filmmaker Sydney Nicole Herauf, was able to connect her with a stellar team, including Cinematographer Dakota Wotton. It’s with this team, including TDT’s enthusiastic, committed dancers, who she says give an, “Olympic performance,” that she was able to lead an adaptation that is “more textured energetically.”

Devon Snell in Bin Chicken. Cinematography by Dakota Wotton. Lighting Design by Noah Feaver. Costume Design by Krista Dowson. Editing/Colouring by Jose Arturo Torres Salinas.
Devon Snell in Bin Chicken. Cinematography by Dakota Wotton. Lighting Design by Noah Feaver. Costume Design by Krista Dowson. Editing/Colouring by Jose Arturo Torres Salinas.

The viewer will have the pleasure of being transported into the “trashy little alternate reality” of the bin chickens with a front row seat; Martin was pleased to discover that working with a camera allowed her to focus on subtleties, inviting us deeper into the nucleus of the creation. The fact that Cinematographer Dakota Wotton was new to the piece, also provides a fresh perspective for the audience; he worked by weaving through the dancers on a hoverboard, wearing a steadicam gimbal, with Martin providing direction through a headset.

Working in such close proximity to a creation shifted Martin’s view of the work as a whole, and would affect her staging if she were to present Bin Chicken for a live audience in the future. As she says, “Seeing the work from a closer vantage point shifted how I saw the world and the nuances that were at play..it became less about (the dancers) playing a character and more about them putting themselves into their personas and using it as a venue to explore themselves.”

While contemporary dance fans will be impressed by the physicality and strength of the outstanding dancers in the piece, Martin provides many entry points for folks who are simply looking to be entertained and transported to a different place. For all of us, she provides “A nice, wonky palace to bathe in, like, Sesame Street for adults…designed for everyone.”

Bin Chicken premieres November 12th at 7:30pm EST on TDT’s YouTube channel followed by a Zoom After-Party at 8:30pm. The film will remain online until November 26. Full details: https://tdt.org/bin-chicken-film

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