This year's ChoreoFest is sneaking up on us fast! Here's a quick chat we had with ChoreoFest choreographers Jennifer Webb and Carolyn Jepsen of Bridges Dance Theatre.
Get more information and your tickets to this year's ChoreoFest concerts here!
N: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
N: Since this is a very controlled creative space (in terms of time and topic) where do you see yourself starting when you get in the space?
BDT: After we pull our prompt we plan to discuss thematic material as a group, using the ideas generated to put everyone to task. The company will then be divided into subgroups of writers, dancers and technicians to begin gathering kernels of material that will provide the foundation of the performance piece.
N: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
BDT: All art is collaborative. In order for a work to be powerful all participating artists must have a voice and ownership in the creative process. We feel that the best choreographers use their own movement vocabulary to aide dancers in finding their own pathways, rather than dictating how things must be executed. We plan to start this dialogue with a series of guided questions that will give all performers reasonable parameters to work between.
BDT: We love and respect outside voices! Having a different individual with an informed set of eyes reviewing your work is critical to the process and success of a piece. Typically, we like to receive “blind feedback,” meaning that anyone viewing our rehearsal process for the first time will not be given much, if any, direct information regarding our vision for the piece. This gives the opportunity to truly see the work without pretense, allowing us to find out where we have clear moments, distortion, other potential avenues to utilize, etc…Only after feedback has been given will we divulge our intention for the piece.
N: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
BDT: Top 6: Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Bob Fosse, Alvin Ailey, Paula Josa-Jones, Bill T. Jones, Dada Masilo, Lamine Thiam. Ok, we lied…that’s a top 8…and Pilobolus has to be thrown in just for fun!
N: If you could pick any choreographer from any time to set a piece on you, who would it be and why?
BDT: Carolyn: Dada Masilo, South African dancer and choreographer…her work fuses the stories and technique of classical ballet with contemporary and traditional South African dance to create truly innovative performance works whose choreography never compromises. Her style is fast-paced and vibrant, at times feeding off of current events to shed new light and relevance on the challenges that are faced by many marginalized groups in the world today.
N: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
BDT: Jenn: Chuck Brown, Janet Taisy-Craft, Robb Fessler, KJ Hubner, Carolyn Jepsen, Craig North
Carolyn: Laurel Browne, Wendy Dwyer, Doug Ingalls, Peggy-Rae Johnson, Bob Lawson, Jenn Webb
The people in each of these lists have many common threads connecting them to one another. The overarching theme that we keep returning to as we discuss their work and influence is “Let your passions overwhelm your fears.” We’ve inherited an element of bravery and grit that directly informs our work as performers and teaching artists, and we pass this on to anyone who works with us. Over the years we have been given many lenses to work with, resulting in a fierce passion for the body stories that are capable of scouring the soul for truth. We put that truth in non-linear form within the body, with as much authenticity and transparency as possible. We have been taught to give value to and to hold space for voices and stories that might not otherwise be touched. It is our goal to continue to pass on the tools we have been given to any who find them useful.
N: What other events do you have coming up?
BDT: We are currently in pre-production for an evening-length work featuring the music and writing of Jim Morrison, to debut in the spring and summer festival circuits in the Greater New England area. We are also currently rehearsing a work featuring emerging youth writers that centers around children who have been caught in the folds of war throughout history, premiering in early 2017.
N: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
BDT: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook