Austin is resplendent with creeks. The large ones — Shoal Creek, Barton Creek, Waller Creek — define the city. Smaller creeks slice through Austin in often subtle and even hidden ways, dipping into the earth.
Like many have since the pandemic has kept everyone closer to home, dance artist Heloise Gold has found solace in Austin’s creeks — a serene place to escape the house and a safe place to catch up with friends on masked, socially-distant walks.
Gold and her longtime collaborator, performance designer Natalie George, met up on a creek walk after shutdown months ago. The pair has worked together for several years on creative productions centered by Gold’s highly imaginative movement vocabulary.
Propelled by a dream years ago, the much-celebrated Austin choreographer has since the 1980s used birds as her inspiration, illuminating the animal qualities that we humans have access to, when we realize that we are all a part of nature.
In 2019, George and Gold presented “Bird Bed and Beyond,” a fresh iteration of Gold’s bird dances with a cadre of younger dance artists — Kelly Hasandras, Rosalyn Nasky, Kelsey Oliver and Kate Taylor — with the aim to pass on the Gold’s choreographic methods to a younger generation. It was performed at the Scottish Rite Theater.
Now, after several creek walks, George and Gold have figured out a way to re-stage “Bird Bed and Beyond,” for our pandemic times.
At 3 p.m. CST on Dec. 20, they will livestream a site-specific re-imagining the show from a creek bed. The 50-minute dance work will broadcast on Facebook at facebook.com/events/2691435807853568/
Which creek is a total secret. A live audience is not invited. (But since they will be outside, they’ve scheduled a rain date of 3 p.m. Dec. 22.)
The livestream is free, but donations are accepted.
George said that from a performance perspective, situating the bird-inspired modern dance for a virtual presentation proved challenging even in a natural bird-friendly setting.
“It was all about how to translate it virtually in an interesting way,” she says. “Heloise thought (a creek bed) offers so many levels and perches for the birds and great acoustics for the bird songs.”
In the previous iteration of the show, Kate Taylor played a bird watcher that sat atop the stage and looked on to the bird dances, occasionally adding commentary into a mic.
“In this production, I will join Kate as a bird watcher and we will both film the live stream as a part of our performance,” says George. “Our Facebook live event will feature a feed from both our perspectives — camera A and B. I hope that people will enjoy flipping between them to see the different points-of-view from these two bird enthusiasts.”
“For us, this is a much needed (artistic) outlet for the end of this year.”