Side Notes from the Side Yard

We follow roads to somewhere.

Photo by Chloe Jones

A Salt Lake City native, Chloe Jones graduated from Wesleyan University this past May with a double major in dance and Hispanic literatures and cultures. She currently serves as development intern at the Yard, a position which brought her to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time. In her short time here she’s already fallen in love with the Island. Her other great loves include dancing, writing, traveling, cooking, and hiking. She will be reporting regularly about her experience working at the Yard.

Last Tuesday Paul Taylor 2 performed at Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center as part of the 2015 Yard Arts Season. After the show, the Yard staff joined members of Taylor 2 and Chicago’s Lucky Plush for drinks in Oak Bluffs.

Driving home from the bar — winding our way back to the Yard on a dark Middle Road — fellow intern Erica observes, “This might be the only place where all roads lead to somewhere.”

Summertime traffic aside, there is something profound about driving on Martha’s Vineyard, especially for those of us unaccustomed to Island life. I grew up in Salt Lake City, where you can drive south for hours and end up lost in the desert. Or north over mountains and into Idaho, all the way to Montana, to Canada …

On Martha’s Vineyard you will always — eventually — end up where you began. It’s as if there are shortcuts to learn, but no wrong turns to take. Even if you have to turn around on a dead-end street up-Island, you’ll eventually find your way.

This past weekend was the second week of the Yard’s three-week series, “Follies: Women Dance the Comic.” The performance showcased the work of New York City–based choreographers and collaborators (and comedians!) Deborah Lohse, Donnell Oakley, and Cori Marquis.

In the final piece, “#nofilter,” created in residence at the Yard last summer (Marquis was a 2014 Schonberg Fellow), the performers strip themselves of social filters. They pick at their wedgies onstage, drop countless f-bombs, smear chocolate pudding all over their faces, burp, take off their clothes, mimic masturbation, and say whatever comes to mind.

All of the text spoken in “#nofilter” is improvised. Throughout the piece the performers engage in free association, where one speaks without stopping for a predetermined amount of time. One dancer monitors the clock while another talks. When the speaker’s minute is up, the timer picks up where the talker left off.

After Saturday’s show, Yard intern Leah and I decided to try our hand at free association. The result? Twisting, turning monologues that lead us both to laughter.

“Procrastination, nation, fermentation, I love fermentation, but I have to open my fermenting sauerkraut outside on the Side Yard porch because I don’t want to wake anyone with the smell when I’m fermenting early in the morning, yes I ferment things at 6 am, fermentation, lactation …”

“I want to be a mother …”

When you’re talking without stopping, there’s no time to think ahead. You don’t know where you’re going, but you’re going — and fast. There are infinite surprises along the way, and no wrong statements.

Watching “#nofilter,” there are moments when the performers look genuinely surprised: Did I just say that? I just said that. Where did that come from?

These are particularly beautiful moments, because they are truly candid. The performer watches with you, as his or her inner monologue unfolds onstage like a Vineyard winding road. You travel together in the dark. You trust the words will get you there.

All roads lead to somewhere.