On her way home from a dance rehearsal, a young woman’s spiraling thoughts begin to blur past and present as she questions her identity and place in the world.
Niccolò Montanari: Could you tell us about the inspiration behind MisFit and what motivated you to create it?
Micaela Taylor: The inspiration behind MisFit started out as a longing to be understood in every atmosphere. Then reality set in, and I realized there is a space inside of everyone, or a moment that goes unseen, unheard, and misunderstood. That is what actually unites us, the feeling of awkwardness, competition, and disconnection. This epiphany drove me to make a film about it.
NM: Your background is in dance. You’re mainly a choreographer. How did it feel to be directing, as well as performing and acting?
MT: With this film, I actually worked with our director, Conner Bell. He helped bring my narrative to life. His eye for capturing silent emotion is keen, and I was very inspired by it. He also helped me write a more in depth script that better shaped the overall emotion I wanted people to feel while watching. I did feel uncomfortable speaking on screen as I don’t do it often, but I think that’s what added to the raw feeling of the film, especially in the corner store scene.
NM: The choreography in MisFit is both dynamic and emotive. How did you work with the dancers to capture the essence of the narrative and convey it through movement?
MT: We actually worked with an acting coach, to help us dive deep into our roles. She told us not to think of it as a character but rather an exaggerated state of our being. So we sat in a circle one rehearsal and told a story that was partly made up and partly true. This allowed us to see ourselves and each other in a different light, so as we began to dance a new image of a person was heightened.
NM: The video incorporates a mix of urban and contemporary dance styles. Can you share your creative process for blending these genres and what message or story you aimed to convey through the choreography?
MT: My background as a dancer started in hip hop, and then as I grew older I started training in more classical styles such as Ballet and Modern, then later on I professionally worked with a Gaga(movement language originated in Israel) based dance company. This experience opened my creative skills in a nuanced way, teaching me how to blend qualities, genres, and therefore inspired my work. Hence, in all of my works you see a hybrid of classical shapes intertwined with groove and isolations. But all in all, I hope for there to be freedom of expression!
NM: MisFit features powerful and visually striking scenes. Can you discuss the artistic and visual choices you made in collaboration with your cinematographer to enhance the storytelling?
MT: From the very beginning I wanted to dance in everyday spaces. City street, corner store, beach. Highlighting the city of L.A. where I was born and raised. It allowed for these unseen thoughts and feelings that the protagonist in the film felt, to seem effortlessly natural. It also helps the audience question if they are actually happening or just a moment of imagination. It was important to visualize this film as a “dansical” for lack of a better term, a musical that instead highlights singing, highlights dance.
NM: The video explores themes of identity and self-expression. How did you approach these themes in the direction of MisFit?
MT: Often, our identity as people is found in what we do. So in the corner store scene in particular; you see this egotistical, insecure, competitive conversation break out about work. Starting with the simple question “What are you up to?” I think this scene is humorous because it’s so real yet slightly ridiculous. It leads me to my first initial thought of a MisFit. Maybe this is why we feel like one because we so often dumb down our existence to performance, or work, but we are so much more.
NM: The use of music is a crucial element in dance videos. Could you elaborate on your music selection process and how it complements the overall narrative of MisFit?
MT: Well I think whenever I create I’m moving from a life experience. Whether that be love, trial, or past hurt, I’m always thinking of humanity. Therefore when it comes to music I like to incorporate the familiar. Music like L.O.V.E by Nat King Cole or Rapper’s Delight by Sugarhill Gang are songs that most of the audience has heard before and is thus able to bring out a certain emotion, yet I like for it to carry a twisted element. So when working with my composer TRU, I asked him to distort, deepen, and then create dynamic music from the original sounds that would take us all on an emotional rollercoaster.
NM: Dance often serves as a medium for storytelling. Can you share any challenges you faced in using movement to convey a narrative, and how you overcame them?
MT: Correct, Dance is often viewed as background support to a performance or song. Nonetheless, I wanted to bring it to the forefront. Highlighting dance as the strongest form of communication. Everything else is secondary; music, and script. Yet I still felt the need to use words out of a pure need for people to connect themselves to the story intensely. I was challenged of course when it came to writing because I’m used to telling a story through movement, it was difficult to connect words to my visceral concepts and emotions. Nevertheless, I realized that body language is something that we all communicate with on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not, and it has a deep effect.
NM: What do you hope viewers take away from MisFit, both in terms of the artistic experience and any broader messages or emotions you aimed to evoke?
MT: I hope people feel some sort of relatability, in whatever capacity.
NM: Lastly, can you provide some insight into your future projects or any upcoming creative endeavors you’re excited about?
MT: I’m currently working on two new stage works with Netherlands Dans Theatre, Ballet BC, and a short film.