Hollow explores the loss of loved ones and reflects on the experiences and feelings that come with a traumatic loss. Lizzy Tan (project lead), Ben Stevenson (composer), and Rachel Frock (media designer) have recently experienced traumatic losses and wanted to create a piece that reflects on their experiences and provides a cathartic process for them and the audience.
“Haruka Weiser was one of my best friends and her passing away last year was really a driving force behind me knowing that I had something to say,” shared Tan. “Ben and I both lost people really close to us this past year. We knew it was something that would be good for us because of this idea of catharsis. This is finally our chance to get out everything that we haven’t been able to talk about with other people.”
Tan explained that the project was born, not only from the idea of loss, but sudden loss. All of them lost loved ones really quickly and were not prepared to wake up one day and not be able to see them.
“For Ben, his grandfather suddenly got sick and then very soon after died,” said Tan. “For Rachel, one of her friends in high school committed suicide. All of these experiences are very sudden.”
Hollow is a performance installation that is using installed media pieces and choreographed sequences to music. It works with the idea of movement in relationship to the whole work, as opposed to stylized movement.
“Hollow, as a performance installation, really embodies the idea of new work,” said Tan. “It’s not quite dance in the traditional sense or an installation in the traditional sense. While the actual events that inspire the work are unique, the themes are universal. Anyone can relate to them.”
For rehearsal, Tan has developed six characters for each of her dancers. These specific characters will not be used in the piece, but she wanted to create six common emotions and concepts that captured the commonalities between hers, Stevenson’s and Frock’s experiences. None of the dancers know what everyone else’s characters are. This helps preserve the purity of the experience and helps transpose it onto the stage.
As for the music, Stevenson has divided the music into four sections based on his interpretation of all of their experiences. One of the sections deals with the collaborators discussions on their interpretations of the afterlife.
Tan is a third year BFA dance and economics dual major at The University of Texas at Austin. She wanted to create a piece for the New Works Festival because she thought it was a great opportunity to create something important. She believes the arts are a great way to prompt dialogue and conversation without directly confronting the person you are in conversation with, specifically the audience.
“I think theatre, dance and visual art are a unique way of indirectly offering your opinion on something that still allows a viewer to respond without having to engage and debate in real time,” said Tan. “It still allows for creative interpretation. I really appreciate it as a way of talking about something without verbally talking about it.”
Tan is inspired by her peers, especially those that maximize their time at UT Austin. She is inspired by those who find time to be a good friend, work for causes that they care about, give selflessly to others and understand that their lives are not just for them.
“[I’m inspired by people] who are involved on campus and work to make UT a better place and more inclusive for other people, or the people who are always willing to make time for other people, or pick someone up really late at night,” said Tan. “Those are the people that inspire me and remind me that there’s still a lot of human goodness in the world.”
You can follow Hollow on instagram at @hollow_nwf and follow their hashtag (#hollow).