Elizabeth A. Miklavcic - Choreographic Works
Chrysalis - October 1985

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Chrysalis (1985)

Choreographer: Elizabeth A. Miklavcic
Music Composed and Performed: Elizabeth A. Miklavcic
Videography and Editing: Kerry Jensen
Costuming: Elizabeth A. Miklavcic
Set Design: Elizabeth A. Miklavcic
Set Construction: Jimmy H. Miklavcic
Lighting: Jimmy H. Miklavcic
Dancer: Elizabeth A. Miklavcic
Location: University of Utah Modern Dance Department Theatre 208, Salt Lake City, Utah
Length: 7:57 minutes
Jacqueline Clifford, Chair of the Modern Dance Department, had given permission to film A Chrysalis Project while school was out of session during mid-December of 1985, in Theater 208 of the old dance building. Snow was on the ground outside, and it was a chilly evening with the sound of the large radiators clanking as finishing touches to the set, setting up the lighting, and other preparations were underway before filming began.

Kerry Jensen was a news photographer for KSL Channel Five, he had volunteered his time, energy, and talents to professionally videotape and edit A Chrysalis Project. This dance was to be presented in two ways, as a stand-alone installation, and as a performance piece. Photographer, John Brandon, was also at the shoot to take color slide stills that would be projected onto the plexiglass panels during performances and additionally to run independently when the piece was set up as an installation.

Elizabeth Miklavcic had a specific idea for an environment that defined the world of the dancer. Elizabeth and Jimmy Miklavcic designed the look of the installation together, and Jimmy built a substantial set out of beautiful wood and industrial pipe for the frame where the hanging curtains could stand alone. The set innately defined a space, this space was where the dancer was confined.

There were three stages of curtains made out of red, blue, and lavender colored sheets of plastic, cut into strips. Similar to colored gels used for theater lighting, the idea was that the colors of the plastic would combine together as light shone through to create more colors. In the back of the set was a stool where the dance began. The stool represented a starting place, a platform, so-to-speak, a place of safety.

Choreographically, the dancer begins to tentatively travel away from the safety that the stool represents. The dancer engages with the hanging curtains, emboldened she becomes more and more motional. Just when you think she is going to break free from her self-imposed framework, she takes a step back, and only peers through the most downstage curtain. She looks out to the world beyond, but does not engage with it, holding back.

The filming and photography took several hours, first a wide-shot, then midrange, then close-ups of specific moments in the dance. Jimmy and Elizabeth struck the set the next day, and it all seemed like a dream. Kerry edited Chrysalis throughout January. Shown above is the edited version that he created from this night's work.

A Chrysalis Project was installed and performed at the Salt Lake Art Center, (currently the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art-UMOCA) for the February 7, 1986 grand opening reception of James Pridgeon's The Big Picture. The installation ran in the gallery, Elizabeth gave a talk about the creation of the work, and she gave four performances on varying days and times throughout the month of February.