On creation and collaboration

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Homer Frizzell lean back

Collaboration is central to my work as an artist. I believe that dance has the power to transcend the imperfect tools of verbal language; with YSDT and as a freelance dancer and choreographer, I am constantly seeking new ways to articulate ideas and emotions through movement. This process is an inherently collaborative one- as it desires both to understand and to be understood- and has led to studies and performances in Amsterdam, India, the Middle East, New York, West Africa, and most recently with the Movement Party— a collaborative platform for investigating physical, environmental, and social awareness through dance– that was co-founded by fellow YSDT company member Kathryn Baer Schetlick.

Through my work with the Movement Party, I have had the pleasure of participating for the past two years in Fleet Moves, a site-specific movement festival created in and for the town of Wellfleet, MA. Fleet Moves offers tools for visiting artists and community members to investigate their relationship to the world around them, and engage in a creative dialogue about place. It was in this uniquely supportive context that I had the opportunity to create my first original dance work.

k(not), a duet about relationship, premiered as part of the 10×10 performance at Preservation Hall in Wellfleet in July 2013. The program featured multiple choreographers performing works in a 10’x10’ space. The physical and logistical limitations of this process presented a challenge that pushed the boundaries of my creativity: I had five days and four rehearsals with a dancer I had never met (lucky for me he turned out to be the talented Mikey Rioux). And oh yes, we were two full-grown humans dancing in a 10’x10’ square (small even by New York standards). It also meant there wasn’t much time to obsess over my artistic choices. I had to trust Mikey and the collaborative process, which was for the best anyway, given that I had completely underestimated the nerve-wracking vulnerability of realizing my own artistic vision.

For anyone who has ever felt compelled to create something out of nothing, however, you understand the deep satisfaction of seeing that thing realized, which more than compensates for the stress of production. And so I did it again.

Photo by: Whitney Browne

Photo by: Whitney Browne

After the premiere in July, k(not) was curated in October as part of the Women in Motion Salon Series at Theater Lab in New York City. Here I had the opportunity to rework the material with the gifted dancer/collaborator Connor Voss. With more time and physical space to work with, we investigated the existing themes of relationship- unity, individuality and compromise- as expressed by two moving bodies. Throughout the piece the dancers come together to make and dissolve shapes, and repeatedly find themselves in a balance of dependence as one supports entirely the weight of the other. I consider the piece- and my development as a choreographer and an artist- to be a work in progress that I would be happy to share with you.

You can watch an excerpt of the latest version of k(not) from October 2013 in the video below, and please feel free to share your thoughts, impressions and questions!

 

Zoe

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