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The Fantasyland Project

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Imagine, just for a second, utopian portraits of harmonious and optimistically-fantastic scenarios flooded with pink-colored undertones. Welcome to Fantasyland!Photograph of Daniel Gwirtzman

The Company premieres a new dance film, The Fantasyland Project, via a live screening and talkback with the artists on Zoom, Friday, July 31 at 7:00pm EST. A collaboration between choreographer Daniel Gwirtzman and a cast of sixteen dancers, this virtual project investigates the notion of fantasy through a range of lenses.

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Through this very socially-distant process, each dancer–eight Company members and eight summer apprentices–has been charged with responding to a series of written prompts to spark the conceptual kernel that interests them most. Working with Daniel to distill the intellectual ideas and ground them in a concrete scenario, the process of creating a unique fantasy has necessitated finding a location, and collaborating with the choreographer, costumer, and composer.

The project reflects this moment in time as a springboard from which to reflect on the mundane, comedic, dramatic, and the horrific. Gravity and levity are presented in equal measure.

Photograph of Kaitlyn Jackson in The Fantasyland Project

“I want to explore this changed world and revel in the crumble and beauty that is the destruction of standards, and the personal liberation that comes with that, ” says dancer Kaitlyn Jackson.

The Project’s inception traces back to Daniel’s trip to Greece in July 2019 where he dreamt up the concept and title for the presciently named Fantasyland, which was to have been presented as part of the Company’s spring and summer season. As he had written then:

Fantasyland is an imaginative view of the world where perfected beauty, euphoria, and magical charm reign supreme. An antidote to the division which cleaves this Dis-United States, and channeling the gay spirit of Pride, Fantasyland views humanity through pink-colored lenses, presenting utopian portraits of harmonious relationships and optimistically-fantastic scenarios.

As time and circumstance have evolved, it became clear Fantasyland could not progress as originally planned. This socially-distant reimagining of the project, with an original score by longtime collaborator Jeff Story, is free to all!

As the world has turned into a scenario most closely linked to science fiction, the harmonious relationships Daniel described could not seem more foreign: for at the heart of Fantasyland was to be the linking and coming together of bodies. The original choreography envisioned the motif of holding hands to gird the new work with a constant intertwining of limbs.

In March, when it became prudent to pause the further progression of Fantasyland, the Company reimagined the project in an effort to keep its artists engaged and employed. Whether diving in with a loving heart or embracing the heart of darkness, these artists have developed solos that together make up the newly named The Fantasyland Project.

The Fantasyland Project features the work of Daniel Gwirtzman (Director, Choreographer), Jeff Story (Composer), Company members Mariah Anton, Dwayne Brown, Jacob Brown, Jacob Butter, Derek Crescenti, Vanessa Martinez de Banos, Sarah Hilmon, Madeline Hoak, and summer apprentices Neftali Benitez, Maddy Hertel, Usman Ali Ishaq, Kaitlyn Jackson, Lydia Kelly, Colin McKechnie, Joel Oliver, Julia Zoratto.

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