Brooklyn Botanic Garden Art In The Garden Series | Video by Nel Shelby Productions; Photo by Christopher Duggan

Dance Feature by Christopher Duggan | Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Art In The Garden” Series

Oct 4, 2020 | Dance Feature | 0 comments

Guest Post by Nel’s husband, photographer Christopher Duggan.

Back in July, Nel and I created 4 films for Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Art In The Garden Series.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden partnered with curatorial partner Pentacle Dance to produce four dance films to release over the span of four weeks.

This was our first time working with Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s team, but not our first time working with some of the artists! The COVID-19 protocols were strict, and we made sure to work with masks on and at least 6ft apart from the performers.

The shoots were incredibly emotional for everyone involved – we were filming right after the murder of George Floyd. If you listen closely in the films, you can hear the protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” with the buzz of helicopters overhead.

It felt surreal to be creating art during that very intense and heartbreaking time, but I am proud to have been a part of this project. Working alongside my wife is always a great time, and the performances by the artists compliment Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s stunning grounds in a really beautiful way.

Stefanie Batten Bland / Company SBB

This film study by Stefanie Batten Bland’s Company SBB offers the point of view of a Garden visitor who happens upon three installation solos by Jennifer Payán, Yeman Brown, and Bland herself paying homage to Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.

Learn more about Company SBB >



John Heginbotham / Dance Heginbotham

You Look Like a Fun Guy is based broadly on avant-garde composer John Cage’s methods of creation and his commitment to mycology.

Dancers Courtney Lopes and Mykel Marai Nairne share a series of identical, short movement phrases; the phrases are performed in an order randomly selected for each performer.

Leading into the performance is a conversation between the choreographer and the Garden’s foreman of grounds exploring the synthesis of art and nature, and the mutualistic connections formed by both fungi and humans alike. The dance begins at minute 11.

Learn more about Dance Heginbotham >

Urban Bush Women

In this sharing of active research, company members Courtney Cook and Love Muwwakkil explore practices for navigating discomfort, healing, and visioning onward that have charted the survival and progression of people of color.

Engaging in “Listening, Re-Membering, and Restoring,” the dancers cite their bodies, their environment, and the Garden’s collection as reservoirs rich with experience and memory.

Learn more about Urban Bush Women > 

Raphael Xavier

In this work, Xavier explores the intuitive concept of listening, assessing, and adapting through improvisational street dance.

Acoustic sound and movement drawn from environment and experience intertwine to create an ambient performance that reflects on growth and maturity.

Learn more about Raphael Xavier >

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