En Pointe 14 — RWB Dancers and The Bros. Landreth Collaborate on New Video
When the Provincial Government announced a province-wide state of emergency on March 20th, Manitobans dutifully began practicing social distancing measures. Initially, residents were asked to stay inside and isolate from potential exposure to the once-in-a-century pandemic. The weeks of social distancing that followed meant we could no longer see our friends and families and were a painfully difficult time for many.
Previous editions of En Pointe have examined the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on RWB dancers. Their creative outlet, performing ballet on a stage, has been taken away by the virus. Even now, as Manitoba is in Phase 3 of reopening, the group rehearsals required to perform ballet cannot be conducted safely. The dancers were challenged to become creative with their artistic expression, and for one dancer in the RWB Company, this became the inspiration behind the latest socially distant performance project.
“After everything shut down, this idea just came to me,” said Liam Caines, Second Soloist with the RWB. “I wanted to create a video performance that explored the life of a dancer in the situation we were facing, to represent the impacts of this change from our point of view.”
Liam, who is originally from Kingston, New Brunswick, has been a recognizable face since joining the RWB in 2007. When he approached the other dancers in the company with his idea, they were all for it.
“One of us suggested, ‘Why don’t we reach out to some local musicians?’ which then became The Bros. Landreth because of our previous collaboration with them. I emailed Dave (Landreth) and Dave told me to say no more, they wanted to be a part of it.”
As Liam listened to the music of The Bros. Landreth, one song spoke to his feelings of being alone, stuck in isolation. The song is called “Where Were We” and to Liam it described a feeling of being lost and trying to make sense of the world around you. He says it put into words many of the questions he had been struggling with during the extended months of social distancing.
Dave Landreth really enjoyed Liam’s interpretation of the lyrics. According to Dave, the song was written in a vague way that allows it to really easily connect to the feelings we’re going through now.
“Lending the song for the piece, it was a no-brainer,” recalls Dave. “We enjoyed working with the RWB for Ballet & The Band and we loved seeing our music set to choreography, so I suggested we could record a new live performance of the song for the video.”
The song heard in the video is an entirely new recording from The Bros. Landreth. Each piece was recorded in isolation and layered together. This version features an extended outro, and a new drum segment that keeps a steady time for the dancers to perform to. This would be the basis for the choreography that the dancers would perform in time to the music.
Once the music was ready, Liam began working with the other dancers in the RWB Company to create the choreography for the piece. His goal was to convey the listlessness and isolation that the dancers were feeling, so the choreography uses mundane and repetitive movements to evoke these emotions. The final video features freestyle performances from the dancers in addition to the planned choreography created by Liam, Soloists Yosuke Mino and Alanna McAdie, and Jaime Vargas, one of the Ballet Masters at the RWB.
The video, which was filmed entirely in isolation, features The Bros. Landreth and dancers from the RWB Company performing their parts from inside their homes. The piece is a powerful expression of loneliness, but it’s one that Liam says ends with a cathartic, positive message.
“It’s easy to forget that we are not alone in isolation,” says Liam. “It’s an issue we’re all facing, and the solution isn’t conducive to how we like to approach challenges. This video is our way of reaching out to say this is a crummy situation we’re all in, but to those watching this video, we feel the discomfort and dissatisfaction you feel, and though we are apart, we are still there with you.”
The music video for “Where Were We” premiered on Tuesday, July 7th, on The Bros. Landreth YouTube page and represents the second time that the RWB and The Bros. Landreth have collaborated. The first collaboration, called Next of Kin, was created for 2019’s Ballet & the Band which was similarly enriched by music from The Bros. Landreth. The video is also the second time the RWB Company dancers have come together to release a performance online since the provincial shutdown in March. The first performance, called “Angels in the Architecture,” featured choreography from the ballet of the same name and can be viewed here.