Sofia Rosa Bianchi

On a misty November morning, I sat down with the multi-faceted Elizabeth White, founder and artistic director of the Elizabeth White Creative: a brand new production company making its premiere work OAETH :: on Saturday December 8th at the Center of Performance Research in Brooklyn.  The Elizabeth White Creative (EWC) is a new-media contemporary ballet company which combines visual arts, dance, and technology to create an immersive performance experience which tests the limits of conventionality.  This stunning visual production is solely the work and vision of the company’s ingenious artistic director.  White’s innovative approach to transforming space through movement and visual effects is challenging the paradigms of the traditional contemporary ballet-performance experience.

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Learn more at elizabethcarolinewhite.com

I pose my first question to ignite the discussion:  “Can you describe the moment you conceived of your vision for this company?”  It's like lighting a candle and watching it burn; time and space completely vanishes.  Speaking with White is like a meditation; she evokes an unmatched sincerity and an ethereal presence as she begins to meticulously discuss her work and vision.

“There was a very specific moment, actually,” Elizabeth recalls, nodding fondly. Her eyes search the space for a few moments, as if drawing upon a metaphysical recollection that she can replay before her eyes.  

Previous to starting EWC, White tells how she had held a meritable position working as a studio-assistant to an NYC-based art director, who worked with a private repertoire of clientele in high fashion. White explains that while she valued this unique experience, she had also been subsequently ignoring a creative facet of herself that needed to be silenced in order to efficiently execute her daily duties.  In her words: “I would wake up, and I would put my soul away.”

“One night, I couldn’t sleep,” White recalls. “I remember getting up at 3 AM, and making myself tea, and taking a seat at this wooden table in the kitchen, in the dark.” Elizabeth stirs around the memory of that particular wooden table. I gather that it served as a motif, perhaps, to represent how she was feeling in the present moment. She describes this table as ‘unpainted,’ ‘unfinished’, ‘raw.’ “The feeling I got staring down at that table was very...honest.  It was almost like staring into a mirror,” Elizabeth explains.  “I suddenly got in touch with my higher self… and realized that I had been ignoring myself.  That I had been putting my life on hold; wasting my time... all I wanted to do in that moment was to start this company that I had always dreamed of.”  

Interestingly, the first piece that Elizabeth has created for EWC, OAETH :: is largely inspired by this self-actualization.  In the opening ‘Premonition Scene’, principal character Oaeth is struggling with the enrapturing thoughts and ideas which occupy her mind, and struggles with communicating these thoughts and connecting with those around her. To follow is the 'group scene’ featuring five new dancers, created to represent the people in Oaeth’s life who are fighting their own intrinsic battles. This scene introduces a specific character with whom Oaeth is able to connect with later, who will aid her on her journey in achieving transcendence.  At last, Oaeth experiences a healing encounter with her ‘Higher Self,’ and through this experience she is able to achieve a union between the ego and the Divine; to harness and to reclaim the divine power that exists within.  The piece is sensitive and nuanced, with many layers of spirituality woven into the fabric of the work.  It is evident that the motivation behind White’s choreography is pulled directly from the soul.

On top of choreographing and rehearsing each scene of the production, White has ingeniously created and facilitated all of the interactive sets and visual-effects for the piece.  With a masters degree in Arts and Technology from NYU’s TISCH School of the Arts, White’s brilliant skills and relentless dedication have allowed her create stunning interactive visual effects and projection mapping for the entire piece.  The images being projected are eclectic and symbolic, making for a stunning, mesmerizing, cohesive visual experience.

As the performance day draws near, I ask White what next steps are for EWC.  White’s eyes dance as she expresses the need to further communicate and promote deeply withheld ethical and spiritual values through her future works...More specifically, White tells me about being a passionate and dedicated vegan from a purely ethical/altruistic stance.  

“Becoming vegan for me was a large paradigm shift in my life,” White says.  “It was a huge awakening... It was like waking up inside a nightmare.”  White discusses in depth with me how she feels profoundly disturbed by the corruption and mass injustices which take place in our world, may of which are facilitated by our nationwide system of food consumption.  White adds that this profound personal awakening has also largely inspired some common themes which are synoptically revisited through her work.

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Allowing people the space to reconnect with their higher selves is what first and foremost drives me to create.

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White expresses how, as an altruist at heart, she hopes to strongly advocate for animal rights through up and coming productions, and how she wishes to draw inspiration for future pieces in the name of animals’ rights.  “Five months ago I came across a video series put together by PETA , which featured all of these different animals and highlighted these incredible abilities they possess.  One was this fish that does these mathematical calculations to organize his swimming patterns in order to attract a mate,” White invokes.  Hoping to emulate this concept and to transcend it into the world of performing arts, White hopes to create a cohesive piece to embody this idea.  “I want to bring attention to the other life forms on this earth,” she says.

White also wishes to collaborate with eco-conscious designers in high fashion for costume design in future productions.  One potential contender is Anna Tagliabue, a designer whose goal is to bring animal rights activism to high-end fashion clientele.  White met Tagliabue two years ago at an animal rights march in New York City, and has since appeared in Tagliabue’s fashion shows during fashion week in NYC.

I ask White if she would therefore consider her art as a form of activism.  “Discreetly, yes,” White explains. White discusses with me the fine line she has to navigate in an effort to create a comfortable, unbiased atmosphere for audiences.  “I am passionate about advocating for this cause, although I don’t want that to be a reason for people to be withdrawn from the art itself.  The moment it becomes explicit and non-romantic, and non-artistic, is the moment I will lose the audience.  It’s non-explicit: let the art speak for itself, ” White resolves. In that vein, White is optimistic for the future of EWC and the opportunities which can be seized in terms of advocating for animals rights.

Audiences who experience a production of the Elizabeth White Creative shall experience the touch of the Divine, which transcends through each moment of this young, pioneering genius’s multifaceted productions.  In a closing statement, White remarks, “I believe honest expressions of creativity have the power and potential to unlock hearts and minds and allow people the space to reconnect with their higher selves, and that is first and foremost what drives me to create.”



Don’t miss the Elizabeth White Creative’s premiering work OAETH:: on Saturday, December 8th, shows at 7 (SOLD OUT) and 8:30 PM @ the Center of Performance Research, tickets selling fast!

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