Before We Flew Like Birds, We Flew Like Clouds is an audience activated installation illuminating the experiences of four humans with extraordinary relationships to their bodies – an astronaut, a professional athlete, a survivor of a near death experience and a differently abled person – using Virtual Reality films, prerecorded and live music staged inside a floating, immersive set of star-like objects.
The narrative centers on the question, “what is it like to be in your body?” Each contributor’s personal stories will be integrated in the installation through audio interviews sampled and used in score.
The film component consists of four Virtual Reality short films created in partnership with these contributor’s – each as the subject matter of their own film.
The music and films will be experienced in an interactive, planetarium-like environment. Viewers sit in swivel chairs throughout the space amidst floating, star-like sculptures hovering in the space, created by enclosing helium balloons in an architectural triangular framework made from Styrene tubing. Live dance, vocals and strings add the performative element to the work.
This project is commissioned by Velocity Dance Center’s Made In Seattle Program. After it’s Seattle premiere this project will go on to IMAGINE Film Festival co-produced by Earth Dance and Dance Films Association in Massachusetts.
Amiya Brown, Lighting Design
Amiya Brown is an interdisciplinary artist who works on solo and collaborative projects, specializing in the art and design of light. Amiya grew up studying performing and visual arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. During college she developed skills working in many different artistic mediums, but found light to be the most intriguing. After college, she cultivated work as a dancer, lighting designer and visual artist. In 2010 she received her MFA in Theatrical Lighting Design from the University of Washington. Her career is comprised of collaborations with choreographers, theatre companies, and musicians, as well as, solo visual art and installations. Amiya has worked with Pat Graney, zoe | juniper, Catherine Cabeen, Kate Wallich + The YC, Amy O’Neal, Alice Gosti, Amelia Reeber, Aiko Kinoshita, Cornerstone Theatre Company, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Austin Shakespeare and Washington Ensemble Theatre.
Cameron Irwin, Set Design
Cameron Irwin is an architect and scenic designer based in Seattle. He has worked with LMN Architects since 2014. He is a member of Washington Ensemble Theater. He has created set designs for major theatrical productions in theaters around the US, including, ACT Seattle, the Geffen and the Santa Fe Opera House.
Liane Aung, Dancer
Originally from Southern California, Liane received her B.F.A in dance performance from the University of California, Irvine, where she joined Donald McKayle’s Etude Ensemble. Liane worked with Backhausdance and Entity Contemporary Dance Company, and participated in summer intensives with Alvin Ailey and the San Francisco Conservatory. In NYC, she worked as a freelance dancer with Yin Yue Dance Company and Erica Essner Performance Co-op. Here is Seattle she also performs with Whim W’him.
Patrick Kilbane, Dancer
Patrick Kilbane is from Bainbridge Island WA. He discovered dance at 14 and trained at Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, the School of American Ballet and others. He worked with Oregon Ballet Theater and Northwest Dance Project in Portland, OR, where he danced original roles in new works by an array of international dance makers. Since his return to Seattle, Patrick has been working as a freelance artist, performer and choreographer. He teaches at Velocity Dance Center and is a member of the Seattle-based contemporary dance company, Whim W’Him.
Alia Swersky, Dancer
Alia has immersed herself in body awareness practices throughout her entire life. A dancer and movement artist, Alia has been on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle since 2005. After graduating as a nutritional therapist in 2010, Alia has been an assistant teacher for the Nutritional Therapy Association and is an associate in practice with John Tjenos at Foundational Health Solutions. Her life passion as a dancer and movement artist and her 15 years of teaching yoga deeply influence her work as a nutritional therapist. Alia collaborated with John to develop The Art of Muscle Testing.
Maurice Hall, Professional In-line Speed Skater
Maurice Hall is a professional speed skater and a music producer. He has raced in the NSC for 3 years with 1 Grand Championship under his belt. He can skate 100m in 8.49 seconds!
Soyeon Yi, Astronaut
Soyeon Yi was the third woman and first Korean woman to go to space. She flew as a Russian guest on April 8, 2008 completing 18 science experiments in space including taking 1,000 fruit flies in a special air-conditioned container box to monitor the way the changes in gravity and other environmental conditions altered the behavior of the flies. She also studied the effects of space on the human body and growth of plants.
Sandy Cioffi, Film Director
Sandy Cioffi is the founder and executive director of fearless360, a new media and virtual reality production company. Sandy recently founded and directed SIFFX, a showcase of the most current and creative thinking in virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 degree immersion. Sandy has produced and directed several films and works with human rights organizations providing video evidence as a tool for documentation and verification.
Gretchen Burger, Film Director
Gretchen Burger co-produced and edited the feature-length documentary Another Side of Peace. From 2006-2012, she served as the post-production producer and field director for the Emmy award-winning children’s public television series Biz Kid$. She has edited projects for a range of Seattle-based non-profits and most recently served as a story consultant for the feature documentaries Gameshow Dynamos and The Song Collector.
Norma Jean Straw, Film Director
Norma Jean Straw has produced, written and directed for over 100 episodes of nationally broadcast TV. She has received two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Series – BizKids(PBS) and Hip Hop Harry (Discovery Kids). BizKids was nominated for a total of 15 Emmy’s in it’s 65 episode run, earning two. She also produced independent feature film EVERGREEN, shot entirely on location in Washington State. EVERGREEN premiered in dramatic competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and was nationally released in 122 theaters through a direct distribution partnership with AMC Theaters. In her current roll at B47 Studios she develops original serialized video content for multiple platforms. She also writes, directs and produces commercial and corporate projects for B47’s clients. In 2014 she directed B47’s original short film FRESH PAIR which premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival as part of the Fly Film program. Prior to joining B47 Studios, she spent 2 years working on the Hollywood studio lot of Paramount Pictures developing original TV series for various broadcast networks.
Dacia Sáenz, Film Director
Dacia Sáenz is a filmmaker and artist hailing from Austin, Texas, where she worked in television and documentary productions for CNBC, PBS and the Sundance Foundation, hunting for the perfect shots as a photo and film archivist. When not in production, she performed as part of a queer hip hop trio and was published (under pen name) in The Kicked Out Anthology, selected as one of the top books of 2011 by the LGBTQ Roundtable of the American Library Association. Back in Seattle after filming in Thailand and El Salvador, she is currently in post-production working on social justice centered multi-media projects for Seattle Globalist and the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights. Dacia has also spent the last year mentoring creative youth for Seattle based media organizations, Reel Grrls, Reel Queer Youth, and the Seattle Globalist Youth.
KT Niehoff, Director
KT Niehoff is an entrepreneurial generative artist, performer and producer working in the field of immersive performance. Her disciplines include choreography, music, film, space, design and building communities programs. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
In the early 90’s she moved to Seattle, WA to perform with the Pat Graney Company and in 1996 co-founder the Seattle based arts space, Velocity Dance Center, Michele Miller, where she instituted the SCUBA National Touring Dance Alliance. In 2006 she left her post at Velocity to pursue her immersive performance work full time.
As a 20+ year educator, KT has taught at numerous festivals and universities including Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Oberlin College, Cornish College of the Arts, Texas Christian University, The University of Washington, The Hong Kong Academy of the Performing Arts and the SNDO, Amsterdam.
Imagea by Kelly O