Tocaya’s Launch party on December 14th was more than just a party, it was a scene from our film, BITCH, brought to life.
It started as a magical night... Henequén hung from the ceiling, guests were dressed to the nines, soothing sounds reverberated from the speakers. A tone was set, but with a very specific intention — to make apparent our malaise. Tocaya had planned all along to break this apart, and bring to life a scene from our script in order to connect us again... a physical, collective, bonding.
In the script, “The Intervention” is a scene that takes place at the most exclusive party of the members-only Chapel Bar, where a crowd of well-dressed artists, filmmakers, and innovators are disconnected in malaise. Everyone is glued to their phones, indifferently bouncing to music, and waiting for the next party. A recluse named E (a nagual, Nahuatl for shapeshifter) crashes the party, and the vibe shifts. Dressed head-to-toe in fur, E conducts a performance with her dog, B. They circle each other — panting, breathing heavy, a dynamic that hovers between tenderness and imminent aggression. It’s something of instinct and ritual. Then, like a virus, everyone in the room starts to mimic their movements...connecting and feeling, slowly descending into becoming-dog.
ONE BY ONE, around the room, the space between people's bodies starts to melt...as if the human barrier of disconnect is removed, softly bonding like a pack of dogs.
Everyone has completely changed form and it's almost like a spell, or virus...a dance of repeated actions that inspire more actions of DOG-LIKE BEHAVIORS... loyalty, bonding, love.
People get on their hands and knees. They lick each other, sniff each other, nuzzle cheeks. A FEW PEOPLE get anxious...the pack of the crowd pulls them in, adopting them, calming them.
This is catharsis.
Calm smiles, a few barks of joy. Mimicry around the room.
A BEAT here, where people connect, genuinely, like dogs.
For Tocaya’s launch party, we took the Intervention off the page and into life.
But why here? Why this intervention?
Our generation is suffering an epidemic of individualism. The saturation of “me” culture has crumbled our sense of community and ritual, and has caused fissures in human connection. BITCH is a script born out of this disconnect, and the Intervention by the lead character is a last-attempt at rediscovering our humanity (which, ironically, comes from our communal and inherent animalistic core).
By taking this scene from our script into a real setting, we wanted to expand the world and philosophies of BITCH — now, even before the film is born. As former dancers and now filmmakers, we wanted to connect the screen elements with the real movement. The Intervention, as it occurred at our Launch Party, recalled our ancient rituals of community in order to create an environment where people could reconnect on a different level — a more spiritual level — even amidst our contemporary malaise.
From the very outset of this production, our primary philosophy was to rediscover community at every level. The endeavor involved an entire team of collaborators and artists, and required the breaking of our individualism, allowing each of our ideas to grow and proliferate. We all had to learn to let go and trust each other. And, during the performance, that viral energy spread across the attendees, expanding our community even further.
A select number of people were invited to Revuelta’s rooftop on December 14th in Roma Norte — filmmakers, producers, artists, and innovators — with a strict dress-code of black tie and the promise of “connection.” As people sipped their drinks and chatted, we (Tocaya’s founders, Ambika and Monica) gave a speech that introduced the collective nature of Tocaya, hinting at what was to come.
Unbeknownst to the attendees, Tocaya was far bigger than the two of us, for we had already formed a collective over the course of two months. Our choreographer Javi Diaz, and our two dancers Ximena Lopez and Lucero Torrez, were tucked away in the crowd. Our set designer Natalia Montoya had set the stage. And, our music supervisor Ana Velasco and sound designer Dario AFB were on the decks.
After our speech, the two of us disappeared and re-appeared, head-to-toe as dogs, in lieu of the character E, with costumes designed by Ines Sawiris. We snuck into the crowded space from opposite ends, curiously sniffing the attendees. Just as in the film, some people noticed and some did not. Chatter continued, while others started filming on their phones. No one understood what was happening, or why two dog-like performers had just entered the space.
As the music shifted (as the vibe shifted) the two of us slowly started to transform from dogs into naguales. Our movements, with layered sound design, hovered between contemporary dance and animalistic breakage. Small moments of Salsa and Bharatanatyam created an environment of unpredictability and multiculturalism. Then, a calm beat during the performance spotlighted the two of us in all aspects of our dog-ness, our inner naguales, and our humanity...a pause in this embrace.
Most people, up until this point, felt a false sense of security — a separation between performer and viewer. But, what people didn’t know was that this was an intervention, which implied the total activation of the crowd.
A tense musical beat initiated the first activation — of Javi, Ximena, and Lu, who were dressed in black tie, inconspicuously standing by the bar. The two of us approached them with movement, activating them into a mimicry of nagual and dog-like behaviors. Forming a pack, the five of us crawled on the floor and dispersed amidst the crowd...targeting our next victims. One by one, we activated the attendees — some with prior knowledge, and most without.
The contrasting music, choreography, costumes/dress, and set design, all contributed to the melting of the space between viewer and participant. Together, as a collective, we created a new space where people were invited to also move, jerk their limbs, and let our their inner naguales. Like a virus, the movement spread across the crowd — converting bystanders to participants.
Then, at the peak of madness, the music ascended back into a normal party, leaving a lingering feeling of a brief, genuine moment of a different type of connection.
Bringing BITCH and the Intervention to life, Tocaya officially commences the birth of a film collective studio.
Listen to the Intervention musical score here.
A special thanks to
And our non-actors who helped make this possible: Jorge Echeverria, Paul Barcena, JuanFe Cejudo, Frida Astrid, and Valeria Pavlova.