The 15-minute show incorporates vibrant colors, geometric shapes, and kaleidoscope-like movements curated specifically for the well-known dome.
A socially-distanced crowd of about 80 people chatter while a countdown to the next show flashes behind them on the Hatch Memorial Shell at the Esplanade. Young children play in the snow-covered grass, while friends, families, and couples huddle together for warmth.
At last, the countdown reaches zero and the crowd grows quiet. The once-monochromatic dome erupts into bright greens, warm yellows, and cool blues. The show has begun.
“Hatched: Breaking Through the Silence” is an audio-visual experience created by the experimental music group MF Dynamics. The 15-minute show incorporates vibrant colors, geometric shapes, and kaleidoscope-like movements curated specifically for the well-known dome. Viewers also have the option to download music that corresponds with the projections.
The soundtrack features several instruments commonly used in orchestras, including xylophones, violins, and snare drums. Less traditional sounds also come through during the performance; at one point, hands appear on the screen and clap to the beat of the music, encouraging audience members to participate.
Some people join in. Other viewers, like Marina Weinstein, prefer to dance around with their friends.
“I was vibing,” Weinstein said with a laugh. She was still dancing long after the show had ended. “It’s nice to dance and slip around on the ice.”
The sensory experience wasn’t the only reason pulling people out to the Esplanade in freezing temperatures. While many gathered to watch the show, they also took advantage of the opportunity to catch up and chat.
Nate Matthews and his friends biked along the Charles River to end at the Hatch Shell for the show. He said the experience gave him an excuse to introduce his friends to each other in a safe outdoor setting.
“I’m mostly just glad this is a chance for all of us to finally hang out,” he said.
And that’s exactly what the show was created for.
According to Maria Finkelmeier, the CEO and Founder of MF Dynamics, “Hatched: Breaking Through the Silence” was created to encourage optimism and human connection at a time of mass uncertainty and isolation.
That was apparent as I watched people filter in and out of the venue. Couples stopped mid-stroll to watch, while kids begged their parents to stay for “just one more show.” Individuals facetimed loved ones to give them a glimpse of the show, and groups of friends “oohed and aahed” as they watched. Even my friends who tagged along stopped talking about their frozen toes to admire the lights and sounds before them.
Braving the cold is one obstacle, but overcoming isolation is a whole new challenge many people are coping with amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique audio-visual experience is the perfect opportunity to reach out to that friend you can’t meet for dinner, or that coworker you never get to see in person anymore.
Through Feb 21. 5pm – 9pm ET, starting every 20 minutes at :00, :20, and :40. Hatch Memorial Shell, Boston (best reached on foot from the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge). esplanade.org/hatched/
MaryCatherine Neal is a senior Journalism student at Emerson College and Boston-based freelancer. Her goal is to be a long-form feature writer for a print or online publication. When she’s not writing and reporting, she enjoys playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, reading fiction, and experimenting with new spicy foods.