In the End… at the Core… Communication

Jenn Doan

Jenn Doan – Producer/Dancer

After taking several weeks to let this whole project sit, digest, and give space and time for reflection. I came to learn one major thing (among many other little things of course)… Communication was at the core of inlayers and its success. There was communication that  needed effective execution on 2 levels.  The first was the communication with us artist with the online audience.  The second is the communication that was needed between each and every person involved in creating  inlayers.

First… revealing the creative process to audiences and engaging in dialogue with them.

We knew people were watching the episodes and were reading the blog posts but it was a challenge to have ongoing dialogue with them.  The effort to have the viewing public converse with us was not easy and in that respect I felt we did not achieve the level of engagement that we wanted. Much of this was our responsibility to find ways to stimulate the online dialogue.  We really wanted people to ask us more questions and probe us on what they were watching online. We also wanted to have people be honest with their feedback, whether is was about the overall project or the dance work they were watching unfold through each video.  We weren’t looking for just a “good job” or “cool project”. We wanted constructive criticism and honest thoughts.  Perhaps we needed to make this more clear and communicate it in some way. These strategies still need a lot of refinement… and I remind myself.. this whole game is still quite experimental. We were already at a challenge with the fact that we were working to make contemporary dance accessible (something I feel is still not so to the general public) by creating a project that was accessible (through the world wide web with videos that could be watched) and educational ( exposing what the heck we were up to inside the studios and asking people to ask questions and talk to us.) It is still somewhat puzzling. How do we get people to come out behind the screens? How do we create even more interest so people will want to talk to us? How can we inspire more audience activity?

Its seems that at the end of all this.. I have finished up with even more questions than I started with. This project seems to have served as a jumping off point for this type of “dance using social media to reach a wider audience”.. but not just reach to them… but having them be actively involved with their voices to really create a rich overall community dialogue. It really makes me wonder then… are we simply asking for too much from the audiences then?

Second…  Establishing and sustaining effective communication between all involved team members to work together towards a common vision. In any of life’s endeavors that requires more than just yourself… this is the most challenging aspect of any and all relationships.

Being the head producer of inlayers I was at one point or another in  communication with at least 15-20 people who were somehow as piece of the inlayers puzzle (4 dancers, choreographer, rehearsal director, filmmaker, web designer / administrator, 2 lighting designers, stage manager, event / volunteer co-coordinator afterparty organizers, business sponsors, printers, photographer, venue manager, and so many more)

I was basically at the center of the communication stream. Most things had to cross into me and from there I was in charge of overseeing that all things are moving in the direction that it needs to.  I always had to make sure that I understood the big picture and that everyone involved was painting that picture together, even though many were not aware of all the other players. It was quite a juggling act and on its own a full time job (not only was I in charge of this I was also doing a few other roles at the same time. ) I spent 75% of my production work writing emails and making phone calls and talking to others.

In honestly, there were definitely miscommunications. Ones that were minor and ones that were major. It’s inevitable. One that were fixable then and there and ones that once was realized was just to late to rectify.. at least in this round but served as a learning experience for the next round. Usually these major ones affected the people involved in a major way.

What I definitely learned as the producer in charge was… Don’t make assumptions!! Don’t make assumptions that people are always clear on their tasks / responsibilities. It seems common sense but actually in the midst of madness its really easy to let happen. Even if I don’t feel it is necessary to ask again or explain again… it needs to be done because often once a mistake happens or something that was suppose to be done was not.. it creates too much trouble to fix it and often you can’t. Yes it’s important for me to learn to delegate and let go of control but this is a skill. To learn a balance between letting go and holding the reigns enough.

Inlayers was not a conventional dance project for damn sure. It was like a molecule in which the nucleus of it was the core idea and the surrounding electrons were three major aspects. The dance piece that was created by Taryn, the web aspect which was lead by Mohamad, and the video aspect which was created by Kaelen.  Each “electron” was created with its own artistic approach but one its own could not have existed alone and therefore inlayers would not have been whole.

Overall, I really loved producing this project. It was hard as hell, and I must say the financial aspect of this was the most stressful and difficult. I basically had to be a  “hustler” to make something happen with less than reasonable resources. I walked away feeling really confident as a producer. I made errors for sure but I handled and juggled and balanced and pulled and pushed well. It also helped that I was blessed with an amazing team that all put in major efforts and dedications.

Thank you so much to everyone involved!

About Jenn Doan

Jenn Doan is a producer, choreographer, dancer, yoga teacher, and dance talk radio host based in Montreal, QC. She began her dance studies at the University of Calgary and while finishing a BFA in Contemporary Choreography at Concordia University in 2007, began to self-produce her own work, primarily within the Canadian Fringe Festivals, with a co-founded dance theater company called Inertia Productions. Currently, Jenn is the co-artistic director of Woo Me Myth, a dance rock opera (DRO) performance company. The company produced The Duck Wife (2010), an Inuit myth based DRO touring across Fringe Festivals in Canada and receiving audience acclaim throughout. The work won Best Ensemble Performance, Best of the Fest, nominated for Best English Production, and made Centaur Theater's Top Ten Productions of 2010. Jenn has collaborated on many creative projects with vocalists, composers, filmmakers, visual artists, and theater artists. She co-choreographed ADDICTED (2009) with House of Dangerkat touring to NYC and Europe, produced Transfigurations (2009) at Dancers' Studio West with spoken word artist Moe Clark, and both the 1st & 2nd installment of inlayers: an interactive online dance creation. Most productions have been self-supported and only two out of six with small public funding support. Jenn has been a guest speaker at YES Montreal's 2011 Artist Conference and Quebec Drama Federation's 2011 Artist Symposium speaking on topics of Alternative Fundraising for Artists and Diversity in the Arts.

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