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Adapting to an Unexpected Year

by | Mar 1, 2021

It was almost a year ago that the William Male Foundation was getting ready to interview another set of applicants for our artist grants. The country was still learning about COVID-19 but based on public health guidelines at the time, we quickly shifted our interviews to zoom. Nhu Nguyen was one of the artists we interviewed over this new platform. She ended up being one of the artists we chose to receive a grant so that she could develop an evening-length dance show. But the year didn't go quite as expected. Nhu tells us how she adapted to a completely unexpected year:

At the time I received the funding support of William Male Foundation, I could not have imagined how challenging a year 2020 was going to be! At them time, I had multiple opportunities and engagements lined up for Indivisible Nature Collective (I.N.Collective for short). In my proposal, I aimed to create both a live evening-length concert and a series of site-specific activations for found audiences. We started with "Shared Space at PAW" - a community-driven opportunity for artists to co-produce a weekend of show with minimal costs. By the time we went into lock-down in March, we had only engaged in one out of three work in progress showing and feedback session. The production was ultimately canceled after multiple postponements. In addition, our contract with Art Walk SD also got canceled for safety reason. We were extended the opportunity to take part of the 2021 happening but as of now, there is no guarantee that Art Walk will take place in-person in 2021.

Since March, our collective has moved through multiple iterations as we navigate the everchanging and unclear safety guidances from the County. We have shifted from rehearsing in a studio together, to Zoom from our own homes, and then out in public parks in order to maintain adequate distance while being together. With the little momentum we were able to cultivate, we filmed a series of mini work-in-progress solos. These solos will be published in March of 2021 as part of our public performances announcement campaign.

Over the winter holidays and new year, we were once again asked to shelter in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. While we felt like we have been safe while gathering, we wanted to honor the new mandate due to the fact that several of our collective members are essential workers. [At the beginning of 2021], we were able to gather once again to revive our practice and plan for future endeavors.

While this year has been incredibly challenging, I am pleased to share that we continue to make good progress on developing our evening-length work that we can really be proud of. During our most recent gathering, we as a collective felt that we were arriving at the culmination phase of the project. What used to be abstract is beginning to crystallize and the work feels more and more visceral. As mentioned in a prior email to WMF, our research is about "how our individual history and lineages are stored in our movements, in hope of shedding light to how the contexts we have lived through influenced who we are as artist-citizens." We feel strongly that now more than ever, our research of this question is shedding light on how we move through our daily lives. Therefore, we are excited to host a series of small and outdoor happenings to showcase our work. This will take place in March and April, when (we hope) the spread of COVID is under control. These happenings will conclude phase one of the proposed project, feeding into a larger culmination show at a later time when it is no longer a risk to gather in large group.

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