Sense of Time – Erin Malley (SFCD Choreographic Residency Artist 2015)

Katharine Hawthorne and Erin Malley were selected as resident artists for SFCD’s inaugural Choreographic Residency. They have each contributed some thoughts about their experience. Read Erin’s below and Katharine’s HERE.

SENSE OF TIME – Erin Malley


In my residency, I’ve been developing a new film project about a girl who splits apart / gets copied (still figuring out the semantics here) and what happens to both her internal being(s) and external self(ves) as that continues to happen. At the beginning, I wasn’t totally sure if this was going to be a “dance film” per se. My time at the Conservatory has helped me come much closer to finding out just what this film needs to be.

The dancers must have thought I was insane at several points in the process. Some weeks, I would come in with tools like scooters, and a little statue of Loreley. Other weeks, I would “be a royal bitch” (to quote Elizabeth) to help everyone find how deep they could go in terms of performance. But what remained constant for me was the pursuit of the main character, and what kinds of words or tools I could use as a director to bring her to life.

elizabeth munch
Working with the students at SFCD has been interesting and rewarding and challenging. They are open and young, and exhibit a willingness to try lots of things. Their sense of time is long, which doesn’t always work in the medium of film, but we have been meeting each other. Our work together has already influenced my sense of time for this project; it’s stretching longer for me.

The other challenge (and simultaneous pleasure) is that all of the students signed up to work with me on this film that is about one person. Exquisitely ironic. As I’ve been used to working with small casts, at first I didn’t know how to work with larger groups. At times I’ve wanted and needed to focus in on just one or two people, which has served me and the students well. But importantly, I’ve learned how to expand my focus beyond one or two subjects, to perceive more around me as I shoot. Another important thing I’ve learned how to do during my residency is give one simple task for the day and then ride the energy of the room.

Following my residency, I want to continue workshopping more ideas for this film, and expanding my rough cut. I’m not yet ready to write a formal script, but perhaps thanks to the structure of the residency (with rehearsals happening each week) this piece has been coming together more like a dance – through trials and tests and shooting and looking. I’m interested in continuing to work along these lines during the summer and find more physical ideas before I commit the whole thing to paper. It’s asking to be a feature length film. So it looks like I’ve got plenty of work cut out for me!

Erin Malley is an award-winning intermedia artist currently working in the fields of video and performance, with an emphasis on how the two mediums can inspire and influence one another. Malley’s video design and film work has been seen at DOCK 11, Berlin, Germany; Akropoditi Dance Centre, Hermoupolis, Greece; the University of Sussex; Louisiana State University, The Roxie Theater, SOMArts (SF), among others. Her choreography has been performed at venues such as HERE Arts Center (NYC), Joe’s Pub at the DanceNOW Festival (NYC), Dance Place (Washington, D.C.), Columbia University, ODC, and CounterPULSE. She holds a BFA in Dance and French from Western Michigan University – magna cum laude (2001).

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