Commemoration and Confusion

Review of When the Wolves Came In by Kyle Abraham/A.I.M on OntheBoards.tv
Written by Teen Editor Anya Shukla and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Imana Gunawan

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I first watched When the Wolves Came In without looking at the program notes, and I was more than a little confused. In the performance, I saw wigs, hip-hop, ballet, images from apartheid, police brutality, but no central message. What did it all mean?

Although I did not know it at the time, When the Wolves Came In is based on Max Roach’s jazz album We Insist Freedom Now, created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, but released early in response to Civil Rights protests. The dance itself consists of three shorter pieces, the abstract “When the Wolves Came In,” “Hallowed,” and the more narrative-driven “The Gettin’.”

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Texas High School SXSW Shorts: Heart à la Carte!

Review of the SXSW 2020 Official Short Film Selections, Texas High School category

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Kathy Fennessy

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Making films is really really hard. Making films with borrowed equipment and a budget of $0 is even harder. And making films with borrowed equipment and a budget of $0 while still learning the ins and outs of filmmaking is probably the hardest. Having made films myself for four years in high school, I can attest to this. There are so many ways a film shoot can go wrong, and a lot of a film’s success isn’t about how skilled a filmmaker you are, but rather how well you can solve problems. That’s why I have so much respect for these Texas high school students, not only for making movies, but for making good movies. So anything critical said about these films comes with a heaping helping of respect for the filmmakers behind them. God knows I have made so, so, so much worse.

The first short I watched was Miu Nakata’s Wish Upon a Snowman. It’s a stop-motion piece about a girl eagerly awaiting Christmas, only for spooky happenings to occur. The animation is very commendable, but more than that, I was quite impressed with the set design. I’ve seen a lot of amateur stop-motion where the background is nothing more than a poorly-printed photo of a city street or someone’s mom doing the dishes, but here there are well-constructed and convincing sets, giving the production a sense of professionalism. However, the short lost me towards the middle, when everything became “creepy.” The issue is that I found the original doll way creepier than the generic skeleton. Additionally, it’s a nice touch that the whole short revolves around a literal “nightmare before Christmas” complete with skeleton dog, like the Henry Selick film, and the short wears this influence on its sleeve in a very charming way.

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Songs of Summer: Angel Blue’s Magical Virtual Debut

Review of Songs of Summer part of Seattle Opera's Opera At Home series.
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sumeya Block and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Virtual art has become the predominant form of expression and community during coronavirus, perhaps because it has the ability to connect audiences and creators alike: the audience sitting in their homes with a cup of coffee, and the creators either alone in a studio or sitting in their own living room. Online art brings connection and empathy to quarantine audiences around the world. Virtual art is human; it’s how we can stay tied to each other in these months of fear and uncertainty.

A beloved Seattle organization that recognizes the power in online performance is Seattle Opera: their website continues the Opera’s work through (sometimes) lonely screens, with performances that are updated weekly. The organization offers a host of ways to engage in opera during quarantine, and their Opera At Home programming is great for those who want to learn more about the medium.

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An Artificial Killer (Whale)

Review of BLACKFISH, screened by Virtual SIFF Cinema
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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Sometimes, we ignore the truth in favor of a more digestible alternative. After all, no one wanted to see the intense pain that turned a captive killer whale, Tilikum, into a violent being. For SeaWorld’s Tilikum, his pain was not only felt physically by a tiny cell that restricted him from swimming 40 miles a day, but also emotionally from unbearable loneliness. With Tilikum’s story as the focal point in a multifaceted depiction of the brutal sea-circus industry, Gabriela Cowperwaite’s documentary BLACKFISH leaves no room for ignorance.

Cowperwaite weaves a cohesive story from interviews, SeaWorld advertisements, archival footage, and 9-1-1 call recordings. This stark combination makes the SeaWorld advertisements more akin to propaganda. Coupled with the interviews, the advertisements are morose and gaudy. But of this footage, the most compelling is an interview with John Crowe, one of the men who captured young orcas and shipped them to sea-parks around the world. Crowe describes his participation in a brutal 1970 capture in the Salish Sea. While Tilikum was captured near Reykjavik, not in the Salish Sea, the message is the same. Crowe regretted his participation in the capture of the orcas because he saw their profound emotional connection to one another as well as grief from mothers who were taken from their young. A scene from BLACKFISH, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo courtesy of Christopher Towey.

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Meditation: A Silent Prayer

How does art help you process or experience this moment in time?

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Watch this Performance for free here.Read these before watching, to track things as you watch the dance:What moments stand out to you? Think about what movements the dancers do, or sounds that you hear that stay with you after the piece ends.Consider what it means to see black and brown dancers onstage in this piece. Dance, joy, breath, and rest can all be acts of resistance to oppression and have been used by Black people throughout history to resist white supremacy. What do you see in this piece that might be considered an act of resistance?After Watching:This piece premiered in 2018. How does it feel to watch it now in 2020, and how might it feel different or the same as in 2018?Did the piece give you a new perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement or the current protests to end police violence? If so how?What perspective did you gain?How does art help you process or experience this moment in time?How can art, or dance specifically, play a role in the fight for racial justice?

Follow-up resources: A.I.M's company website. The A.I.M for Change section on the website has a very comprehensive list of resources as well.Dancing protests in the New York Times

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TeenTix Stands with Black Lives – But Standing is Not Enough

It is never the responsibility of the oppressed, to educate the oppressor.

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PHOTO CREDIT: PARKER MILES BLOHM / KNKX WHERE WE STAND:

Institutional racism and police brutality have disproportionately impacted the Black community for far too long, and we at TeenTix would like to offer the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery our deepest condolences. We would also like to acknowledge that their deaths are merely the tip of the iceberg in an institutional pattern of unarmed Black people dying at the hands of police.TeenTix is an anti-racist organization that is actively working to identify, name, and correct institutionalized racism and constructs of white supremacy within our own organization, and to help our partnered arts and culture organizations do the same. Our programs work to uplift marginalized voices in arts leadership and arts journalism, and to increase access to art.

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Youth Take Shakespeare Online

Review of King Lear performed online by Penguin Productions
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mila Borowksi and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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The works of Shakespeare, the great Elizabethan writer, are still very much alive and well in the modern theater world. It came as no surprise to me that even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop the performance of his beloved plays. Not only did Penguin Productions’ troop of 14-18 year olds perform for a digital audience instead of one packed into the red seats of a theater, they also rehearsed entirely on a digital platform.

The video performance began with a short introduction from director Shana Bestock, whose video then fades out as classical music takes over, a transition that will become familiar from scene to scene in this hour-long production. The backdrop of a scraggly tree, surrounded by a desolate and foggy landscape with black shadows encroaching from both sides, took over the screen for a few seconds. It is then that a group of high school students embarked to capture the classic Shakespearean story of King Lear.

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Queerantine: RIP The Pride Parade But We’re Still Out Here

Review of So Pretty Virtual Screening at Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival by Three Dollar Bill Cinema and Northwest Film Forum
Written by Teen Editor Tova Gaster and edited by Press Corps Mentor Jasmyne Keimig

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I was on FaceTime with my best friend when it dawned on us that COVID-19 was really about to cancel pride month—no parade, no all-ages drag dances, no gays making out in Cal Anderson. “I want to vibe with queers!” she said, flipping her green hair at the camera in frustration. I want to vibe with queers, I nodded back. Although coronavirus is dealing a massive and reverberating hit to our community, and to our teen summer pride fantasies, the Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival (put on by Capitol Hill cultural cornerstone Northwest Film Forum and Three Dollar Bill Cinema) is a nourishing socially-distanced dose of representation and genderqueer luv.

Closing night film So Pretty (directed by and starring Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli) portrays the dynamics of a tight-knit group of five gender-nonconforming friends and lovers. They hold immense tenderness for each other, a care which is shown through touch—casual kisses on the lips when they see each other in the crowd at a protest, an arm thrown over a chest the morning after. It’s a healing portrayal of affection between people whose identities are treated as ideological battleground sites by a violently binary society. Before quarantine, So Pretty would have read as sweet and radical. Now, it’s achingly bittersweet.

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A Good Movie is Harder to Find than a Good Woman

Review of A Good Woman is Hard to Find, screened by The Grand Illusion Cinema
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Eleanor Cenname and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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When, in these uncertain times, we try to find peace, comfort, or perhaps even distraction in art, I want my art to feel like comfort food. Specifically, I want the artistic equivalent of mashed potatoes. Delicious? Yes. Relatively inoffensive? Indeed. Given the choice, would I eat it every day? You bet. Lately, I’ve sated my desire for comfort art through Queer Eye. It makes me believe in the good of humanity and self-love. But this isn’t about Queer Eye; I am here to talk about Seattle Grand Illusion Cinema’s virtual screening of Abner Pastoll’s thriller, A Good Woman is Hard to Find. The film seems to be born of humanity’s worst and is the antithesis of all that I want in art right now...except in one key way: it is thoroughly entertaining.

Sarah, a meek, widowed mother of two young children remains desperate for closure after the recent murder of her husband. When a drug dealer who steals cocaine from a local mob uses her house to store his ‘product,’ she uses him to find her husband’s murderer. All of this is coupled with Sarah’s strained relationship with her mother, her struggle to make financial ends meet, a perverted grocery store employee, a police force that seems altogether unconcerned with her husband’s murder, and her son, Ben, who became mute after witnessing his father’s death. The film ultimately plays like a violent iteration of the clichéd ethical dilemma: Would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your family?

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Culture-Crushing Gentrification in Capitol Hill

Review of Vanishing Seattle film, screened at the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Maia Demar and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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I’ve grown up with Capitol Hill. I went to daycare at Seattle Central College, elementary school at T.T. Minor, and came back full circle to Central for dual enrollment as a junior in high school. My dad works for The Stranger, right next to what used to be Value Village and what’s now a WeWork building. Even my aunt and uncle are Seattle artists, but they actually recently moved to Bremerton. For artists, the rising prices of gentrification have made it impossible for them to live on Capitol Hill. These cultural shifts in Seattle’s historic arts district are exactly what is discussed in Vanishing Seattle, a work-in-progress short film which was streamed digitally as part of the Capitol Hill Arts District Streaming Festival.

Vanishing Seattle is also a local movement documenting the increasing gentrification of Seattle, both on their website (vanishingseattle.org) and their popular Instagram account (@vanishingseattle). They post pictures of the displaced or diminished old Seattle, often those of artistic or cultural significance, in an effort to bring awareness to the incredibly gentrified condition of Seattle.Screenshot from the Vanishing Seattle film.

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No Need to Plan a Trip—SAM Brings the Museum Experience to You

Review of Stay Home with SAM by Seattle Art Museum

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Valentine Wulf and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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In uncertain times of panic like these, art is a great form of escapism. Sometimes diving into a visual masterpiece that somebody else has created is exactly what you need to distract yourself from the fact that the people around you are dropping like flies. However, with museums closed and an inescapable sense of impending doom around every corner, the arts world is feeling more and more out of reach. A website, such as Seattle Art Museum’s Stay Home with SAM, is an excellent way to make art accessible to the quarantined masses.

Don’t visit the website expecting a museum experience translated onto your screen. It’s more of an extension of SAM’s blog than a digital museum, but that doesn’t stop the art from being beautifully captivating. When you first visit the Stay Home with SAM website, you are greeted with the “Object of the Week”. My first visit featured the “Magnolia Blossom,” an eye-catching black and white close-up photograph of a flower.

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Predator Songstress Sets Our Ideas of Live Theater Free

Review of Predator Songstress on OntheBoards.tv

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Rosemary Sissel and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson

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Predator Songstress is an exquisite, soul-stirring work of art that asks era-defining questions about voice, freedom, and live performance. It’s magnificent, unique, and startlingly relevant today.

Originally staged in 2015, the recording of this performance has been available at OntheBoards.tv for five years now—but its message and storytelling style are fresher and more necessary than ever.

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Jet City, Improv(ed?)

Review of Comedy in Quarantine by Jet City Improv
Written by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras and edited by Press Corps Mentor Chris Calabria

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I have not yet found a more accurate description for my quarantine mood than a line delivered in the middle of Jet City Improv’s Comedy in Quarantine. “Nathan, this is going very badly. It’s a new medium and I’m suffering.” With all the new skills we’re learning in quarantine, improv has gained a big one too: self awareness. An hour long, live-streamed showcase of four indie improv duos, Comedy in Quarantine has sprung up to replace the weekly, in-person improv we know and love, utilizing Twitch streaming and chat features to simulate the suggestion process so integral to improv.

The best moments of the performance adapted advantageously to the digital medium. The first comedy duo, The Appropriate Ladies of Weatherbee, used Zoom backgrounds to transport themselves to an ambiguous, old-timey England. The backgrounds helped the scene work in a way not possible in-person, complimenting iconic, off-kilter lines, such as, “I do love to crush a small bug between my fingers from time to time”, and “Mildred, I believe your goat is the devil incarnate.” The next team, Price Nixon, used backgrounds varying from Tiger King screencaps to a Third Eye Blind concert and Trolls: World Tour. Up next, Beckz and Mads filmed in their bathrooms, playing beauty vloggers stuck in Vegas due to a cancelled convention, being legally obligated to film YouTube videos from their hotel rooms. A delightful finale, Storyboard, featured live cartooning, music, and an improvised Choose-Your-Own-Adventure storybook. Storyboard served as delightful proof quarantine doesn’t have to tamper art, and leaning in to adaptation can create something wonderful. Screenshot from Jet City Improv's Comedy in Quarantine.

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A Nexus of Negativity

Review of Nexus by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom

Written collectively by the Teen Editorial Staff

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. A man and a woman randomly meet each other and seem to hate each other’s guts. They’re total polar opposites. Gradually, they get more comfortable with each other, express themselves, and fall in love. Sound familiar? This is essentially what happens in the play Nexus, by Danielle Mohlman, performed on Zoom. However, Nexus adds a small twist by asking the question: What if they were in the “hating each other’s guts” phase for their entire relationship?

When the man (MJ Sieber) and woman (Keiko Green) first meet at a bus stop, you could already tell the guy was pushy. As the play progressed, and the couple met at various locations—a museum, their house, another museum, yet another museum, why do they keep going to museums?—we were struck by the consistent horribleness of the man. He picked a fight with her when she found out she had a tumor— which turned out to be benign, but yikes! But I guess that’s okay, because she’s horrible too! At one point she just went to Baltimore without telling him. Is this what adulthood is really like? Because if so...that sucks.

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Music in Challenging Times

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Joshua Caplan and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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In challenging times, many people turn towards the things they love. For me, it’s music. People of all backgrounds can find a safe space in their favorite music. During hard and stressful times, I gravitate towards two types of music in particular: Angry music that takes this world to task, and feel-good music that reminds us of the many and beautiful things in life. Here are some suggestions that span these two types of music, some of which incorporate both styles.

First, let’s start with a song that is less than a week old: “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” by We Are The Union. Yes, I am an unapologetic ska-punk fan. The band We Are The Union has been a staple of ska-punk for over a decade now. Lyrically, this song is very simple. It discusses the many unfortunate events throughout our lifetimes and eventually culminates in a hopeful call of “We ain’t gonna be treated this way!” This song, while using tried and true progressions and song structures, is the type of melodic punk anthem that can get people on their feet and thinking about social change.Album cover for "Trans Day of Revenge" by G.L.O.S.S.

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ComedySportz: Wing It Til You Win It

Review of ComedySportz by CSz Seattle

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Leuel Bekele and edited by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes

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The world is a slightly better place for having improvisation than it was before improvisation. We all improvise, whether we like to admit it or not, but those who champion it have a way of releasing the imagination of others. It’s more prevalent than is apparent at first glance, and many common games like Charades, I Spy, and even Dungeons and Dragons rely on improvisation. In fact, my earliest encounter with improv was when I’d conjure games up with my siblings and cousins on a piece of paper; from role playing games with very loose rules to a much more difficult version of Battleship. However, the most common association is stage-based improv, and local venues in the Seattle area such as CSz Seattle which has been livestreaming their ComedySportz shows as of late. ComedySportz is usually a live, fast-paced comedy show with a live audience, but due to the mandating of social distancing they moved the show online. The live stream is still available for free on the CSz Seattle Facebook page.

In many ways it reminded me of MTV's Wild N’ Out, which is the first example of improv that comes to mind for many people, including myself. Like Wild N’ Out, the show pits two teams of comedians against each other in a variety of improv games such as Story, Mom's Spaghetti, Hashtag, Finishing School, 185, and more, except without the occasional profanities. In each game, suggestions were pulled from the comments section; ranging from genres of film, strong emotions, and household appliances, to celebrities, specific regional accents, and more. Usually they’d compete for the audience's laughter, but in this case, they competed for the praise of the comments section.

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Part 3: Keeping Cultured During Quarantine

Find out how some of the TeenTix-ers are staying artistically engaged while socially distant.

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This is the third installment of our “Keeping Cultured During Quarantine” series. Enjoy these recommendations from TeenTix Newsroom writers, New Guard members, and Press Corps teens about how to fight the collective cabin fever!Daisy

Ok, so actually, my favorite kind of art right now might not even be classified as art (but in my head it is)! My favorite kind of art right now is . . . . PEOPLE!! (People are art!) The best quarantine activity EVER is to watch people tell me things about their life (over a socially distant video call, don’t worry!), or things that happened when they were little, or anything that’s happening in their heads! Good art = stories. Stories = people. People = art!!! Seeing people that I love, even from far away, and getting to know them better, learning more about the stories-that-make-up-who-they-are, is the best quarantine art obsession I can imagine! (Also Parks & Rec.) Hana

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The Art of Procrastination

Teen Editorial Staff May 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Anya Shukla and Kendall Kieras!

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Our quarantine art viewing is still going strong! One thing we have noticed during online school, however, is that we find ourselves procrastinating far more than we used to. Our emails are open, our phones are right next to us, and YouTube and Netflix are only one click away…

There’s also a lot to procrastinate! Some may say that because AP tests are only forty-five minutes, they cause less stress; others believe that because many final exams have been canceled, we don’t need to study; still others think that because many schools are going pass/fail, grades don’t matter anymore. To all those people, we say only this: we’re teenagers, and even when it’s not necessary, we make procrastinating a full-time job! (Also, do you see how we slid in an AP-English-worthy concession there? Take notes, College Board.)

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GiveBIG SUPERSTAR Hana Peoples on Finding Her Perfect Arts Match!

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Introducing our TeenTix GiveBIG SUPERSTAR, Hana Peoples! Hana is one of fewer than 20 people in the whole world who has donated to TeenTix during GiveBIG every year 6 years in a row! She is a TeenTix alumni who recently moved back to Seattle after graduating from UCLA with a Masters in Cinema and Media Studies. Hana is currently starting a part time internship with Telescope Film where she will be helping with their international film database. In a recent interview, we got to know Hana and hear about her arts experiences with TeenTix and beyond.

Hana was first introduced to TeenTix by a friend, and together they attended a show at Pacific Northwest Ballet. At the time, Hana went to Holy Names Academy for and always felt like she didn’t quite fit in. She enjoyed theater and dance, but didn’t want to perform. Hana (right) and her friend Lena at her last TeenTix event, PNB's The Nutcracker, in 2013.

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Pivot Turn: Poetry in the Moment of Change

Review of Pivot Turn at Cadence: Video Poetry Festival presented by Northwest Film Forum

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lark Keteyian and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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Referring to people as bodies isn't a turn of phrase I find particularly comfortable. It feels impersonal, even spooky, to separate a person's essence from their physical body; it turns them into something inhuman. However, in the case of Pivot Turn, a series of films that don't always take place in the world we're used to, it feels appropriate. Pivot Turn ran the second night of Northwest Film Forum's Cadence: Video Poetry Festival, which transferred smoothly online in the wake of COVID-19. The films were collected around the theme of a volta, the moment of emotional change in a poem. "Moment of emotional change" might sound like a vague concept, but in practice it's fairly easy to recognize: it's a shift in tone, subject, or feeling. Sometimes you feel the volta as a subtle flip of your heart, sometimes, as the ground moving under your feet. The volta is part of what makes poetry so personal, strange, and effective. As an art form that often relies on dreamy association rather than a clear linear narrative, poetry has to envelop its audience emotionally in order to have an impact. The volta is one way for this to happen: it can bring an everyday object or place into a strange and unfamiliar light, causing the audience to experience the world in a new way.

In Pivot Turn, the voltas were explicitly physical. The shift in feeling was visually represented through movement: dance, animation, bodies of water, human bodies. Different creators interpreted the open concept of "video poetry" in very different ways. Some were visualizations of full poems (think music video for a poem); some focused on fluid physical movement organized in a dream-logic reminiscent of poetry, with very few words. All of the films, however, shared the theme of movement. Black Girl Poem, Daryl Paris Bright + Anatola Pabst. Image courtesy of Northwest Film Forum.

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