“You were wild once, don’t let them tame you.”

The quote above was said by Isadora Duncan, known as “The Mother of Modern Dance,” who pioneered a new form of dance that was not as rigid as ballet, believing that dance could be an expression of the human spirit. At the time, the most commonly practiced style of dance was ballet, known for its structure and austerity. Duncan went against de rigueur and started to experiment with free movement, using her entire body to portray an emotion or story. Her efforts were met with wide acclaim and modern dance began to take hold.

Isadora Duncan’s quote inspired Sophia Franzella, fueling her desire to create art and her belief that you shouldn’t wait for permission to make art. Art should be accessible to anyone willing to give it a shot. From that belief, Sophia created her project—a twelve video series utilizing dance to explore the themes of the human spirit and what it means to be human. Each video showcases a different performer and location and is choreographed by Sophia. The videos are about two minutes in length, making them accessible to anyone wanting to get a bit of art and culture in their day.

Isadora Duncan photo

Isadora Duncan, the Mother of Modern Dance

To start things off: what is your background with modern dance and the arts?

While I always was dancing around the house as a child, my mother officially enrolled me into a pre-ballet class at age three. At the barre, my silly artist-self was quickly whipped into shape. I often felt like a soldier while training in ballet. I loved the elegance of this type of dance, but there was always a part of me that felt hungry for more of a release (the kind that you get with modern dance or acting).

I started acting in high school, which I quickly discovered was my true passion. Dance, however, remained a significant part of my life. I kept taking dance class, but I started exploring modern, jazz, and theatre dance.

In college, I was exposed to Dance Theatre, also known as Movement Theatre—an exhilarating fusion between two of my favorite art forms: dance and acting. I began exploring this type of theatre and soon realized how much I loved it. I then went in search of what my own movement style would be. It has been a thrilling challenge to connect acting and dance to discover my own style of movement.

What made you decide to start this project?

About 2 years ago, I was yearning for a project. Since graduating college and lightly exploring movement theatre, I felt this need to create and collaborate with other artists.

Being an actress, so much of my life is determined not by me. Waiting for job offers can be nightmarish, and I decided that I was no longer going to sit by the phone in order to make art. No more needing permission to create. It has been extremely liberating.

In 2015, I stumbled upon an amazing quote by one of the founding mothers of modern dance in America: Isadora Duncan.  The quote is, “You were wild once, don’t let them tame you.” This resonated so deeply within my soul, and this quote became an anchor for creative exploration.

I decided to use film as the medium for this artistic endeavor because it makes the art accessible to almost everyone. Two minute movement pieces are viewable on a lunch break or while scrolling through Facebook. Why not add some mindful art to an often-mindless activity of being online?

The music composer of Wild Once, Christopher Brockett, agreed to collaborate with me when I asked him back in December. He and I were both searching for an outlet to flex our creative

muscles. We discuss each piece before I choreograph, and he always composes unique and beautiful music for each person! I am so thankful to work with him. Also, Jakob Mantei mixes and masters the music to give it an amazing finish!

How do you choose which artists you work with?

Being a part of the amazing Seattle theatre community, I am lucky enough to know MANY great artists. This 12-month project has allowed me to cast a wide net and ask different performers to participate.

When I begin choreographing, a specific artist usually comes to mind, and I do my best to contact them immediately. Once I know they are on board, I am able to craft my pieces for them.

If an artist reaches out to me to be involved, I will always include them somehow. Finding collaborators can be difficult—the emotional work and time commitment is not always easy. I am most interested in people who want to be there and those who are willing to fail beautifully with me.

Follow up to the second question: how do you pick your locations for the videos?

Seattle is full of so many beautiful locations—both natural and man-made. Exploring the city often feels like location scouting. When I visit an area in which I feel a visceral response, I know it is a good place to make art. I then try to envision which person would fit in the environment the best. The movement usually arises after those decisions are made.

In your outline, you mentioned that each piece will explore different themes and feelings. How are the themes chosen and what kind of themes can viewers expect?

The performer, the location, and the music inspire the themes explored in each piece. Themes such as human struggle, death, love, and fear will certainly be touched upon in each of the 12 pieces. Themes often arise out of Christopher Brockett’s original music and are inspired by the individuals I have in mind for a piece.

What would you like your artists to get out of Wild Once?

I believe that collaboration often creates great work. The Wild Once Project is an outlet for artists to come together and make something bigger than us as individuals. Providing more opportunities for artists to create and explore difficult subject matter is extremely important to me.

I hope that the artists involved feel significant. I hope that they get to feel more honest and connected to the world. And mostly, I hope that the project will give us all permission to feel deeply and live more fully.

How can artists get in contact with you if they’re interested in working on Wild Once?

I am always looking for collaborators! Designers, performers, cinematographers! The best way to contact me is through email: sophiafranzella27@gmail.com.

Let’s make some art together!

Wild Once is a collaboration between Sophia, the performers, the musical composition by Christopher Brockett, and camera work by Nathan Brockett. One video will be released a month featuring different performers, locations, and themes for every video. The videos can be seen on Sophia’s Youtube channel here.

-Kat

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