Dancer Collab – A Fluid Exchange
1. How do you define your relationship with your dancers as it relates to the choreographic process?
My dancers play important role in my choreographic process, to me each dance is truly created for the dancers who are in the original cast. Even if I re-stage a piece, I will make changes based on the dancers who are performing. I want the choreograph to be alive in the dancers bodies, so I have to talk and explore the movements with my dancers. I ask my dancers to share with me their experiences doing my movements. Our relationship is give and take in both directions; truly a working partnership.
2. As choreographer-to-dancer, what function/s have each of you held in contributing to and/or impacting the generation, selection, staging, etc. of material?
I think that both parties (choreographer and dancer) have to play an equal role since one can not exist without the other. Each piece is an exploration of selection, staging and more. When I re-stage a piece in a new space or with different dancers it always amazes me how different the work usually is. Dance is in the moment art; never to exist in the same way in time and space!
3. In her article, “Collaborating with Dancers,” Hope Mohr talks about a spectrum of collaboration which spans from the “old-school genius” model, where “creativity falls almost exclusively to the choreographer,” to a more mutualistic model, where choreographers “rely heavily on the dancers with whom they work not only to generate vocabulary, but also to problem-solve at every point in the creative process.” As a choreographer, how have you traversed this spectrum?
I feel like my journey is backwards on the spectrum. In the beginning of my career I called on my dancers to help create most of my works and now I tend to come with more personal creative ideas/movements. But if my works are performed by anyone but me, then those dancers have to play a key role. Most of my works have to have thoughtfulness behind the dance and movement, my dancers are not robots.
4. Along this spectrum, what factors have influenced how you utilize your dancers in the choreographic process?
Everything in that has happened to me has influenced how I utilize my dancers in my works. As I create art, I learn and grow and with each piece my art(dancers included) teach me.
5. Is there a side of the spectrum you tend to lean towards? Why?
I like for my dancers to be part of my choreography and really commit to my works. The best way, in my option for this to happen, is for them to be including in the process. But we all walk a fine line, I do want my dancers to respect that this piece/work/idea art came from within me.
6. Has that propensity changed over time or as you have gained more experience? if so, what has led to that change?
Yes, as I learn and grow as a person this changes the way I choreograph.
7. As a choreographer, what do you glean from your dancers that informs, adjusts, clarifies, confirms, etc., the material and the work at-large?
Their commitment to the movement, exploration of movement, gestures inside the movement, and so much more show me where the work is strong or weak what is present or lacking. Really each dancers helps to show me more about myself through themselves.
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Read more reflections from Jennifer here.