Take-Off from a Forced Landing

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Take-Off from a Forced Landing is dancer and choreographer Dianne McIntyre’s tribute to her mother Dorothy Layne who, despite earning her private pilot’s license in 1939, was not able to realize a career in flying. The work combines spoken word, live and recorded music, dance, and lighting effects to narrate the internal and external struggles of a Black family. Smith’s cotton jumpsuits and patterned separates used for the composition reflect his own interest in dressing for utility. He referenced military uniforms and workwear throughout his entire career, beginning in his early collections for Digits.


An audio-described version of the video can be found here

00 00

Five performers in matching tan outfits mill about on an empty stage. They all stop, standing in a dim pool of light.


00 10

They raise their arms, holding them out at their sides.


00 23

They slowly lower their arms, 27 then turn to face the front of the stage, and raise their arms again.


00 33

Slowly, each performer flaps their arms and kicks their legs like they’re running in place.


00 44

The performers move independently with mounting energy, leaping in the air as they kick their legs and whirl their arms.


00 55

Their repeating movements grow frantic.


01 12

They flop to the stage, seemingly exhausted. “The people flying . . .”


01 22 “. . . back then.”

A figure in white dances onto the stage. “We had this . . .”


01 49 “. . . how dangerous it was.” Dim “My father was always ????”

The performers in tan roll to the side of stage and the figure in white dances on their own. “We heard of accidents . . .”


02 20 “. . . and was killed.”

The dancer’s wild movements grow calm. “Now you had to . . .”


02 44 “. . . of the plane.”

The dancer spins and twirls. “It was all ???”


03 02 “You name it.” QUICK

The dancer leaps. “But those were not . . .”


03 20 “. . . or nosedive.”

The dancer rolls across the stage. “We were ready on all the maneuvers.”


03 39 “. . . to himself in the air.”

The dancer runs in a circle. “Our instructors were . . .”


03 56 “. . . percent squadron.”

The dancer bounces up and down. “Some women who . . .”


04 05 “But no Black women.”

The dancer pauses. “I taught aircraft mechanics . . .”


04 27 “Pulls us to the earth.”

The dancer shimmies backwards toward the others. “But I’ve always felt . . .”


04 38 “. . . you can just float.”

The dancer crouches with the others.


04 42 END