To create the otherworldly visuals for 'Embodyment' the production team traveled to three spectacular locations: the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, the dam and spillway at Evergreen Lake, and an undisclosed location within the East Troublesome forest fire area.
"The location shoots were very challenging and demanding. Each time we would all get up around 3:30 or 4:00 am to be shooting during sunrise, and the physical environments at each spot required a lot from both the dancers and the crew. It was cold, it was dirty, we had to hike with all of our equipment, and the light in particular changed very quickly so we routinely had just one chance to get our shots.
We all had to adapt creatively to the situation, and the fact that we were able to capture such impressive performances under such difficult conditions really shows the professionalism and dedication of the entire team." -- Daniel Thorne, director
In order to let an audience inside each dancer's creative headspace, the locations were combined with three surreal, elaborate costumes that personified themselves as creators.
"The costumes were inspired first and foremost by the dancers themselves, and the way they each resonated with thematic elements from the environments we were going to put them in. For me it was a question of facilitating the dancers' bodies in a way that embellished and enhanced their movement without restricting it, while also making them look larger than life and capable of manifesting the almost supernatural power of their creative energy." -- Ashe Farrell, art director
The core of 'Embodyment' was a collaboration with Radical Love Movement (RLM), an innovative contemporary dance company founded in 2017 by the film's star and movement director, Phannie Haver.
"'Embodyment' centers around an authentic movement process that my dancers and I have been practicing for several years, and it's at the core of everything we do as a company. For the film, we had each dancer move organically in their locations in an unrehearsed and improvised way, drawing on their emotions and their own somatic experience to determine their choreography." -- Phannie Haver, movement director
"I had worked with Phannie and with RLM a number of times before this project, particularly on a live performance called 'The Stories We Tell Ourselves' where we integrated camera work with the dancers, and the effect it produced was something very impactful. We all felt that a short film was the natural next step in our collaboration, and it was exciting to take things to the next level." -- Daniel Thorne, director
"There are so many elements that combine to make 'Embodyment' special, but it really wouldn't be what it is without the synergy we achieved between dancer and camera. I think [as a viewer] you can tell it comes from a real connection that isn't simple or easy to establish, and it gives the viewer access to that connection in a way that makes the experience very striking and impactful." -- Daniel Thorne, director