Friday, November 27, 2009

Collaboration Among the Arts

I recently finished writing a poem for an acquaintance of mine who wants to use it as part of a framework for an interdisciplinary project for which she is approaching a television network for funding. You may know how lukewarm I am about writing for a special occasion or purpose, but when she outlined the project for me I was intrigued. Using my poem as narration, spoken by a professional voice (i. e. actor), as well as video of a free-form dancer (perhaps in situ) she would explore in film the waterfalls of Hamilton.

I like the idea; I can see it work. I am honoured that she chose me to write the words as an artistic narration rather than a descriptive or historical line of approach. I have been involved with a group that is heralding Hamilton as the "City of Waterfalls" to replace the old "Steel City" image and have visited and observed the wonder of many of the more than one hundred places where water falls over the edge of the Niagara escarpment.
The initial problem was one of approach; how was I to portray the waterfalls? There were several false starts that bogged me down for a time. I finally came up with one that satisfied me, and I hope it works for my friend and her presentation.

I used as theme the ancient concept that all the world consists of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. I briefly explore the attributes of each element and show how they interconnect, and how a waterfall is the majestic manifestation of the elements coming together while remaining separate.

I've done this type of thing before. I had in mind a series of poems based in native symbology. With a musician/composer and a dancer/choreographer onside, we worked out a program of poetry, music and dance. We submitted it to the Canada Council for the Arts and applied for funding as an Interdisciplinary Project. The project was denied, and instead of fine-tuning it and elaborating on it as we might have, we abandoned it and went our separate ways. In some ways, I have no great expectations; been there, done that. But this is interdisciplinary and not mine. I hope she gathers her material in the way it needs to be presented, that it all comes together and gains for her the funding she needs.
Me, I'm content to be a small part of a common effort.

No comments: