To say that Nadine Medina’s latest venture is ambitious is an understatement.
“Dark Blue Sea,” which heads to Proctors tonight, isn’t a concert, a film screening or a dance performance. It’s all three.
“I knew I wanted it to be multimedia. One of the things I‘ve learned about people trying to attend dance shows is that it’s not always very accessible to people. Not everyone can appreciate it or even follow a story through dance,” Medina, owner of the Troy Dance Factory, said.
“Dark Blue Sea” combines music from three local bands with cinematography by Chromoscope Pictures and dancers from Synergia Dance Project, which is essentially the Factory’s dance company.
The idea sprouted late last year, during one of Medina’s local musician choreography classes, which bring together local musicians and dancers to create dances based on the songwriter’s interpretations of their songs. Medina was working with Mira and Chuck Costa of The Sea The Sea and then started talking with Arielle O’Keefe of Girl Blue of creating a narrative on heartbreak and healing and having it play out through dance, film and music.
“Pairing it with music that very clearly tells a story and then having cinematographers on board to drive it further home I thought would be really good for a widespread audience. I really like it when my dancing tells a clear story. I don’t want to leave people guessing,” Medina said.
Thus, she got the musicians of Dark Honey on board and really began to weave together the narrative, which was a very personal one for her.
“I thought, it would be interesting to tell the story of a relationship where you’re in it at a time in your life when you’re trying to figure out who you are. So you’re in this relationship and in it, you completely lose yourself. You morph into a version of yourself that is ‘us’ and not ‘me,’” Medina said.
Realizing this, the main characters have to figure out how to separate from one another; how to be themselves again, discover what they lost and what they want to bring back about their own identities, and understand what means to define themselves as “me” instead of “us.”
This all plays out on stage, sometimes with the dancers performing live and other times with the main characters acting in the videos.
Throughout the entire show (except for intermission), the musicians are also performing, scoring the films and dance performances.
“We’ll do a couple of dance pieces and then we’ll do a cinema piece. These are all meant to be appreciated separately,” Medina said.
While the musicians may be familiar to local music fans, some of the songs might not be.
“All of them are unreleased. The only time you would have heard these songs would be if you went to a live show,” of Dark Honey’s songs. The songs included in the show are from the band’s forthcoming album.
There will also be several songs from The Sea The Sea that are unreleased and a few of the Girl Blue songs can be hard to find as well (they’re only available if you buy a CD at one of the artist’s live shows). Each song pairs well with both the tone of the show and the narrative, according to Medina.
“Dark Blue Sea” (by now you can probably tell where the name comes from) puts the spotlight on local visual and audio artists, something that has been a priority for Medina especially since she started the local musician choreography class last year.
“I wanted to start celebrating their music because I thought it was really great and I also needed a little bit of a refresher. I’d been [running] the studio for about seven years and every once in a while you need a new challenge. So in addition to wanting to celebrate local music, I wanted to be under the restriction of a timeline for creating choreography as well as under the constraints of telling a story to the music that’s based on what the musicians intended the story to be,” Medina said.
She’s also worked with Zan & the Winter Folk, James Rock and other musicians and it’s certainly been a challenge, though perhaps nothing has topped the challenge of putting “Dark Blue Sea” together.
The Synergia Dance Project dancers have been rehearsing for months, along with the musicians. In the last few weeks, they’ve been running through a few full rehearsals at The Church in Troy. There have certainly been tears; not because of the stress of the show, but because of how heartbreakingly real the narrative feels, which is a triumph in itself.
Medina is the artistic director/choreographer. Lead dancers are Dellon Moy and Haley Wyant. Other dancers are Amanda Blount, Olga Bogdanova, Kat Eberhardt, Kelly Jeanmarie and Leigh Schroder.
"Dark Blue Sea” starts at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday) at Proctors (tickets are $29.50) and continues on Friday at 8 p.m. at Helsinki Hudson. The final performance will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Cohoes Music Hall.
For tickets or to donate to the project visit synergiadanceproject.com.