The Savage Seconds may be the darkest production the Danielle Georgiou Dance Group has ever done.
The dance-theater feature film follows a 14-year-old girl named Baby, who is sent home from her boarding school in the middle of a great plague. Her family members — simply known as Father, Step-Mother, Eldest Child and Middle Child — suffer from heartbreak and grief of losing the family matriarch. They’ve grown distant and malicious and try to fill their distress with power, infidelity and exploiting the vulnerable.
The modern-day Greek tragedy and part coming-of-age story represent those last seconds of innocence. A moment of trauma that instills life lessons and educates.
“That’s the sort of terrifying thing about growing up — is that there are things that shape us that we have trauma about for years or for a lifetime,” said Justin Locklear, producer of DGDG and screenwriter of The Savage Seconds. “But they shape us and make us who we are. But it’s those Savage Seconds that separate a lifetime of learning.”
The experimental film will air this week on Frame of Mind, the KERA TV series spotlighting independent films from Texas.
Watch Frame of Mind Producer Bart Weiss interview Danielle Georgiou & Justin Locklear about this week’s episode, The Savage Seconds:
When Baby returns home, to Kalorama, she is in grief, obsession and sexual confusion. Her adolescence is hijacked by her siblings who encourage her to fulfill a romantic desire. Baby, played by Elaina Alspach, embodies teenage awkwardness and how women are prayed upon.
Her character tries to fill the void of her mother, played by Danielle Georgiou, artistic director of DGDG.
If you’re uncomfortable watching this dark and twisted film, that’s a good thing.
“We didn’t make it easy on our audience with The Savage Seconds and that was intentional because we are living in a world that is not easy,” Georgiou said.
The Savage Seconds is a product of the pandemic era. The original production was set to be an opera performed at Undermain Theatre. In June, it was released as an online film and adapted to fit the COVID-19 pandemic with a plaque in the storyline. Georgiou and Locklear had been working on the production for five years.
With the pandemic, Georgiou and Locklear shifted the storyline to fit a dysfunctional family dynamic. The characters have become strangers and every gift and victory is a reminder of the mother.
The pandemic did a number on so many arts groups. But it’s also allowed groups to be creative beyond the stage. That’s what happened to DGDG. The Savage Seconds was one of the first to be released in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by an arts group.
During the months leading up to filming, the cast and crew quarantined for 14 days. Even some of the cast members, who play housekeepers and assistants, wear disposable masks in the film.
You’ll even see a cameo of the infamous “Savage Challenge” dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s song. There’s so much packed in the film that makes it unique to our era and generation.
And like a lot of Georgiou’s productions, The Savage Seconds is about empowerment. In the last scene of the film comes Baby’s blooming. Her moment of maturity and power.
“It’s not just about coming-of-age, it’s about coming into yourself,” Georgiou said. “It’s about fully accepting everything that you are and then living your life in this new form. In a way, a part of her [Baby] dies and is reborn.”
While The Savage Seconds was first set to be seen in a theater, seeing it on film allowed for people to process the twisted scenes of grief, power and how society shapes and sexualizes young women.
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