• Fiona Scruggs

The Naming of Qualia Dance Collective


Qualia Dance Collective logo repeated multiple times.

What's the story behind the name of Qualia Dance Collective? "Qualia" is defined as one’s own individual experience and consciousness. "Qualia" was also the title of the duet that led to an evening-length work of the same name. "Qualia" became more than a work of choreography. It became a way of looking at how we navigate space, experience time, and express energy as catalysts for movement and art. "Qualia" pushed me, as a choreographer and person, to be vulnerable about my creativity and to work through the "writer's blocks." "Qualia" also taught me that sometimes, it's okay to start over. For example, the duet I began with Veronica Bone and Gillian Ebersole in July 2021 started out in the most opposite, complete other realm of inspiration, concept, and movement style than how it turned out (and thank goodness!). I had been working with that previous, original concept for a couple weeks, but it was feeling lackluster and without purpose. I considered "pushing through" to finish with that concept, because in my mind, it would have been too much "risk" to start over with only eight rehearsals until the show. One evening, I was experimenting with an idea in my living room to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" and I realized I might have my new concept. I had been thinking about time (because I felt I was running out of time to finish the piece) and then I thought, "well what about making a piece about time?" Granted, that opened up more questions than I had answers for, but I was excited about brainstorming and researching the ways in which I could connect movement to concepts, theories, and stories about the ever elusive, yet ever present "time." (I was also reminded of Salvador Dali's painting, The Persistence of Memory, which has long been a favorite of mine with it's melting clocks, which were especially intriguing as I began a new choreographic process).


Two dancers wearing all black costumes. One dancer is leaning backwards in an arch and the other dancer is in a lunge with arms outstretched as if reaching.
Veronica Bone, Gillian Ebersole. The Foundry, September 2021.

And that was the beginning of a new duet with Veronica and Gillian. I went to our next rehearsal with no plan other than that we were starting over and using "time" as inspiration. (Thank you, Gillian and Veronica for sticking with me!).

The duet process, experience, and performances of the duet were such a joy that I wanted to continue expanding the piece into something larger and even more meaningful. The positive audience reception also informed me that people were moved by the work. I wanted to continue sharing that movement and connection with more audiences in a deeper, richer way. Over the next few months, I expanded the cast and spent time researching and choreographing based on other similar concepts with strong elements of "qualia," such as emotion, energy, space, chaos, etc. The evening-length work settled on space, time, energy, and chaos for it's main themes.

Up until the April premiere of the evening-length performance of "Qualia," I had been presenting my choreography as Fiona Scruggs Dance.

Five dancers wearing all black costumes and holding hands in a line.
Veronica Bone, Fiona Scruggs, Kendra Lassor, Shannon Nulf, Gillian Ebersole. The Foundry, April 2022

After that performance, though, I felt such a strong connection to the entire experience of choreographing, performing, and sharing "Qualia" that I felt I wanted to carry and honor that title in connection to my own name as a choreographer moving forward, even when creating new and different pieces. And that was the founding and name selection of Qualia Dance Collective. Thank you, Fiona Scruggs Choreographer & Founder of Qualia Dance Collective

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