About the Choreography
A Conversation With Lyndsey Chance Simmons
What was your specific contribution to the conceptual aspect of the show as a whole?
Part of my job, in terms of storytelling, was to create a perceptible link between the Shakespearean sphere of the text, and the visual world of the re-imagined-as-COVID era-musical concept. Bringing these two cultural spaces together as a unified, thematic core for the production was one of the challenges in shaping the style and spirit of the movement. In close cooperation with a marvelously collaborative team of artists, I was able to determine the scope and setting of each number (ie: a rock music video, a Tik Tok or Youtube trend, a Zoom meeting), and creatively implement movement and dance into the online environment of the production. My work contributed to FUSING (pun intended) the fantastical narrative, the renowned text, the original score, and the unique re-telling of the tale by utilizing the visual voice of cohesive choreography, holding together the fantasy of cyberpunk fairies in a high-tech virtual wood, tantalizing love-dazed, Pandemic age mortals searching for transmittable truth.
What inspirations/influences did you focus on in the early stages of your process of creation/design/writing/conceptualizing your contribution to this project?
I focused on contemporary movement and media trends across social media platforms such as: Youtube, Tik Tok, Instagram, etc. I also examined themes in pop culture, such as popular music, celebrities, relevant TV & movies, etc.
What was your creative process? Please give examples.
My first step is to undergo a traditional script analysis, relevant to pre-production rituals of even non-virtual shows. I critically examine plot, themes, diction, characterization, etc.
My next stop was a deep dive into Lydia Arachne’s transformative score, immersing myself in the mood, timbre, rhythm, and genre of each piece.
I closely reflected on the picture it created in my imagination, and then I dove into couching that creative vision in a virtual platform that cohesively expressed my discoveries.
Once the platform has been determined, I decided on a relevant style of movement and set off to create “acting through steps.”
What were your greatest challenges throughout the process?
Teaching and communicating the spirit of choreography on Zoom is an entirely new challenge that is a very precise, yet nuanced undertaking. It was quite a learning process. On top of that, making sure that the health of teaching artists and performers was absolutely prioritized, while creating connections between characters (with masks!) was a real balancing act. It forced me, through trial and error, to reinvent my rehearsal process.
Has any aspect of this project surprised you? If so, what was it and why?
While working without the traditional elements of theatre production (such as a physical set, lighting, etc.) can be extremely challenging, the wonders of technology (and the unbelievable Noah Golden at the helm) bring entirely new possibilities into the foreground of choreography. Our ability to dream big and have characters interact, through choreography, with the invisible, virtual world was a real treat, and I could not believe the end result!
If you could choose one aspect of your contribution (one design, one song, one costume, one scene) that you are most satisfied with/proud of, what would it be and why?
Jake Egan created some absolutely phenomenal costumes for this piece, two of which were the exquisitely detailed (and incredibly heavy 😊) garments worn by Oberon and Titania. At our first dress rehearsal, I discovered that the partnering choreography I had originally taught would be impossible. However, some clever “re-wiring” (I did it again!) and two dedicated actors lead to an even better routine with moments of fun, flirtation, and elegance.
What has it been like working with the FUSE Team on 'A Midsummer Night's Dream- The Rewired Musical'?
This team of consummate professionals, with impressive resumes and achievements, has dedication, generosity, and “I Can” attitudes to spare. It was an absolute joy to create something new with such an enthusiastic team of artists.
Your own words- is there something you want to talk about or share that we haven't covered in our general questions?
A horribly inconveniently timed move to a new home led to a packed and tiring schedule for me but, ever the fighter, I led several choreography rehearsals from my parked car!