COVID-19 changed how we live.

It changed the stories we tell. And how we tell stories.

IAM (pronounced ee-yam), directed by Toronto-based artist and cell and molecular biologist Radha Chaddah, is a testament to that.

A COVID-19 story told in four acts through dance and light, IAM is all about perspective.

Each act takes place at a sequentially larger scale of material reality: first molecular, then human, earthly, and universal.

IAM symbolizes the interconnectedness of our material reality, and the fallacy that humans can live outside of nature or control it."

—Radha Chaddah

Dance of the molecules

Act 1, Dance of the Molecules, is an interpretation of the dance that human and viral molecules engage in when they meet inside the body.

Bathed in pulsating light projections, the dancers play molecules — a coronavirus, an ACE2 receptor, and a ribosome. The projected imagery was created using 3-D models of the actual structure of these molecules.

“Brought inside a cell by a human molecule, the ACE2 receptor, the virus is uncloaked and floats free as a naked strand of genetic code. The naked virus is enveloped by a giant human ribosome, who multiplies it. The new viruses leave the cell and are exhaled from the body to begin the cycle anew.”

–Radha Chaddah

watch iam: dance of the molecules

Or scroll down to go behind the scenes.

making iam: dance of the molecules

IAM’s title comes from the Latin word for “now.” Fittingly, its production was shaped by the “now” in which it was created.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Chaddah and her creative team filmed outdoors, wearing masks and working in groups of no more than five people.

When they weren’t filming, the team worked remotely to score, edit, and manage the production of the piece.

These limitations created challenges. They also opened up unexpected creative possibilities.

“Sometimes too much choice stalls the creative process, and under these current circumstances, systems are less adaptable than individuals. We were able to create this piece both because of and despite pandemic limitations.”

—Radha Chaddah

IAM: Dance of the Molecules is presented by the Aga Khan Museum and Under 5 Studio, with support from the Government of Ontario.

For more information read our press release on the exhibition.

www.radhachaddah.com | Instagram @radha.chaddah