KT Niehoff was selected as one of four artists-in-residence for the inaugural IMAGINE Festival, presented by Dance Films Association (DFA) and Earthdance Creative Living Project in Massachusetts in Fall 2017. After premiering Before We Flew Like Birds, We Flew Like Clouds to critical acclaim in Seattle as part of Velocity Dance Center’s Made In Seattle program, Niehoff re-conceptualized the Flew Like Clouds universe as an immersive installation.
The festival’s setting on the historic Earthdance grounds, a space committed to sustainable community and a center for innovation in somatics and movement, resonated deeply with Niehoff’s history of community activation and her rigorous investigation of the relationships humans have with their bodies. KT and her collaborators—Cameron Irwin and Jacob Fennel—spent the week-long residency interacting with and responding to the Earthdance environment through the lens of Flew Like Clouds.
Most of their residency was spent in the square barn space at Earthdance where they built VR headsets and created a new space installation. KT crafted four sculptural headdresses for the VR headsets which hung on bungees inside the floating, circular vessels built by Cameron and Jake. When viewers entered the immersive columnar spaces and put on the headsets, they experienced the four VR films, created using new virtual reality technology developed by Jake. Each film takes audiences into the lived experience of the work’s main characters: Soyeon Yi (astronaut), Maurice Hall (in-line speed skater), Shevanthi Daniel (near death experience survivor), and Michael Grady (para-rower).
All elements of the installation served to explore the question that propelled Flew Like Clouds: “What is it like to be in your body?” Within the context of the Earthdance community and augmented by the exploration of pioneering new film technology, Niehoff radically deepened the investigation of this question, and expanded the world of Flew Like Clouds.