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13 Ways to Say Hello

March, April, May....The first three months of quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic have been imprinted into my psyche. During this time, I sought an outlet to keep me afloat on a deep sea of uncertainty. After searching through social media for creative ideas to occupy my time, I found a life-vest in the form of a creative prompt by The Iteration Project -- “13 Ways to Say Hello.” The premise was to discover, create, or practice 13 different ways of saying hello to anyone or anything. I decided to turn my saying into dancing and began my adventure of exploring, improvising, creating, and dancing. Suddenly my mind was off that deep sea.

This prompt gave me a sense of direction creatively during the first few months of quarantine. As I created in isolation, I began to question how we interact as human beings. The subtleties of our body language, vocal tone and inflection, and the way we give and receive, are all so intricate.

Next time you see or hear a person (whether virtually or in-person), notice how you exchange greetings -- perhaps a broad wave of the hand and a loud “Hello!”? Or a silent gentle nod? Perhaps you lean in for a strong hug? Even the apparent lack of a greeting, is still a greeting. The mere fact that you acknowledged another human being’s presence means you have responded to and accepted their presence. That response, whether the other person is aware it exists or not, qualifies as your greeting.

I began to notice on my daily walks that nearly every time I passed a tree with birds chirping together or a garden with rabbits staring each other down, like Snow White in her forest, I would involuntarily say “Hi birds!” or “Hi bunnies!“ Was this a new habit developed from the solitude of social distancing? I found myself drawn to any chance for interaction and connection. But greeting my furry surrogate friends always brought me back to my original inquiry: How do we interact as human beings? Reflecting on this again, post project, perhaps a more succinct inquiry would be: How do I interact as a human being?

The following video compilation of excerpts from all “13 Ways to Say Hello” prompts explores this succinct inquiry directly.

It’s research. An inquiry. A dance. A dance that greets you and makes you think.

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