Active Child‘s beguiling video for “All Eyes on You” is, apart from a single in 2017, his first new music to be released in five years. Working with director Isaac Ravishankara and choreographer Jillian Meyers, Active Child (aka Pat Grossi) perfectly aligns the stirring video to his exquisite, otherworldly music. Depicting two people (dancers Reshma Gajjar and Larkin Poynton) in a dimly lit parking lot, the video features a non-traditional dance in which most scenes see the performers frozen in moments, with the camera doing the “dancing.” We spoke with Grossi about the collaboration and putting new music out into the world.
How did the collaboration work between you with Isaac Ravishankara?
Isaac has a sort of casual brilliance about him. He’s also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met, so I knew I would feel comfortable bringing my own vision to the table. Another aspect that drew me to him was his use of choreography in videos. I had a vision of this song being accompanied by a kind of dance I couldn’t really describe, but I knew it wouldn’t take the form of anything you would traditionally think of. Isaac proposed the idea of a sequence of frozen moments spliced together to form one cohesive sequence of movements and everything evolved from there.
Can you tell us a little about Jillian Meyer’s involvement and the choreography?
The choreography became the real heart of this video. But it was a bit of a puzzle to put all of the movements together and figure out how they would be shot so that individual poses would translate into fluid motion. Isaac worked with the brilliant Jillian Meyers to bring the vision to life. What I didn’t anticipate though was that this synchronized flow didn’t just involve the dancers but also movement of the camera. It became a dance between the two actors and the crew controlling the camera—which was all done using a crane. The crane shots required a team of three to be in sync while the two dancers shifted and held specific positions. Everyone communicating and repeating motions until we all felt like that sequence had been perfected and translated physically and emotionally.
What is the story behind the choreography itself?
Conceptually, the idea initially was to present this scenario of two people struggling through a moment of unknown trauma. We wanted to document a sense of total dedication that they have to one another, to dissect that sacrifice and emotion and put it on display from every angle. It was interesting to see it play out because the real sacrifice I think came from the two performers as they held those positions, their bodies contorted, doing their best to stay completely still, eyes open, frozen in space, but still tapped in emotionally.
Now that you have a little distance from the video, have you noticed nuances that you didn’t see earlier?
There’s one shot that I really love where Reshma, the female performer, has tears coming down her face. It happens early on when the two first embrace. In the video it’s subtle and when I first noticed I thought, ‘Wow she’s really going for it!’ But then someone pointed out that she had just been keeping her eyes open for so long that both of them couldn’t help [but] cry. Another moment for me is at the end during their final embrace. This moment and pose was directly inspired by Ilya Repin’s painting “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan.” I wanted to try and replicate the intensity captured in the eyes of Ivan in that painting. There’s this gut wrenching combination of shock, fear, confusion, and love that Reshma managed to nail perfectly. The elevated train passing in the background as the cameras pans away was just icing on the cake.
How are you feeling about putting new music out into the world?
These moments always come with a certain level of anxiety, but there’s less expectation this time around for me. More than anything, I feel relief honestly. I’m relieved to have put together something I can stand behind confidently. That’s all I’ve ever wanted out of this.
Video and images courtesy of Active Child