Directed by Andy Hines and choreographed by Rauf “Rubberlegz” Yasit, the dance film “Same Sky” is a tender display of vulnerability, filled with close-ups and lingering shots that meditate on simple moments exploring the hopeful spark of connection. Part of Jacob Jonas The Company’s Films.Dance series, this piece was created as one of 15 short films designed to facilitate diverse interdisciplinary dance collaborations shot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rubberlegz’ intimate choreography invites Same Sky viewers to rest and surrender the weight of their bodies into one other—to share the burden together rather than alone. The film features four dancers: Joy Isabella Brown, Miguel Alejandro Lopez, Mike Tyus, and Jill Wilson as they let go completely, trusting one another to hold them as they stretch themselves luxuriously. Viewers first glimpse Tyus’ face as he stares up into the sky, his light brown skin and large eyes illuminated by dappled sunlight as the camera pans down to his hand as it gently cradles the back of Brown’s neck, who rests peacefully against him in the grass. The next few moments are cut together smoothly and quickly; the two figures balance against each other forming one arch as Brown bends backward deeply, suspended by one of Tyus’ arms as his torso and head rest against her middle in a caring, protective hold. In the next moment, the two dancers are standing back-to-back leaning their heads against the other’s shoulder, their necks creating a fragile axis point.
On Aug. 25, dancers Joy Isabella Brown and Jill Wilson joined See Chicago Dance’s Screendance Club for a virtual discussion of “Same Sky.” As Brown described the creative process, she said Rubberlegz encouraged them to “do less,” while Hines frequently directed the dancers to pause and hold movements longer. These directions shine through in the partner and group work where dancers unfurled almost languorously into each other’s bodies. Mid-way through the film, Brown and Tyus are standing back-to-back again, while Lopez and Wilson stand on either side of the couple softly nudging their necks to rotate around and rest on the opposite shoulder. There is a quiet strength to this sequence, enhanced by Steve Hackman’s unearthly score, as Tyus and Brown allow their vulnerable necks to be manipulated by Lopez and Wilson who move them with care. Near the end of the film, Tyus balances both Wilson and Brown in a seesaw-like lift and then transfers the weight so they are holding him, using the weight of each other to make the movement work seamlessly.
“Same Sky” illustrates the dignity of human connection. It presents what could be possible when people lean against each other in complete trust. As I reflected on the film over the coming days, I was reminded of the idea the Instagram account @TheNapMinistry posits: “Rest is a form of resistance and reparations.” It is vulnerable to share one’s burden with another, but powerful too. Perhaps “doing less” together is exactly what “Same Sky” is inviting its audience to consider.
"Screendance Club: a radically casual watch-party, discussion of short dance films" takes place monthly. The final Screendance Club will take place Sept. 22,moderated by Laura Paige Kyber in conversation with Philadelphia-based choreographer/performer Meghan Frederick about her work. To receive information about Screendance Club and other See Chicago Dance initiatives, sign-up for our newsletter. The Films.Dance series, produced by Jacob Jonas The Company, Films.Dance is available to view for free on the Harris Theater’s HT Virtual Stage.