by Nicole Harris
We are terribly excited to be participating in NACHMO (National Choreography Month) Boston again this year! Not only will our Choreography Mentee, Elizabeth Powers, be creating a piece for the NACHMO Boston concert on February 9th, but we will be interviewing the other participants!
To kick it off we would like to introduce you to Kristin Wagner. Some of you may have met her this fall when I was in the Tiny & Short concert at the Dance Complex. You also might recognize the name Wagner... Kristin is the very talented sister of the incredible Courtney Wagner Peerless, a former Monkeyhouse company choreographer!
To learn more about NACHMO Boston you can find them on Facebook and Instagram! You can also support this year's NACHMO Boston programming here!
Want to be part of National Choreography Month? Take the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallege.
Every day we will be posting a new prompt on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Follow along on social media to get the prompts and see some incredible dances!
Share your own videos (no previous choreographic experience required!) using the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge hashtag in order to be featured!
K: As a Project Lead at The Dance Complex, I regularly have the opportunity to coordinate a number of interesting creative programs on behalf of the organization. Tiny & Short in particular was the brain child of myself and Executive Artistic Director, Peter DiMuro. When meeting about another program, Peter looked at the calendar and said he didn't like how empty February was looking. I made a joke that I would plan him a show... and then that joke became a reality. I noted that I wanted to do a concert of all short pieces, and he noted that he wanted to bring Ten Tiny Dances back to The Dance Complex: thus, Tiny & Short was born, and after its success in February, The Dance Complex decided to produce it again this past fall. I really appreciated that in this second production, people really embraced the spirit of the show. In particular, I loved the piece that Rebecca McGowan presented in collaboration with Veronica Barron and Julia Friend. All of the Tiny dances were restricted to a 4X4ft platform stage, but these artists took the constraints a step further and squeezed an entire set design on the stage, complete with live music and an additional platform on which Rebecca performed beautiful Irish step dancing. They also lit their own piece, playing with different types of lights and shadows to produce a truly beautiful performance.
N: What are you most excited about for this year’s National Choreography Month?
K: For this year's NACHMO, to be honest, I am most excited about my duet partner, Tony Guglietti. Often the work that I create and the projects I participate in are driven by women's issues. As such, I primarily work with female dancers, which, of course, is completely wonderful. That being said, I recently began dancing with Brian Feigenbaum, which is how I met Tony. I found it really interesting the way Brian's work was informed differently by the diversity of the bodies and genders in the space, and I decided I wanted to try creating something with the male perspective in the room as well. Tony and I had our first rehearsal this past week, and I am really excited about what we came up with... it will be interesting to see where it can go in a month. Aside from the new challenge of working with a male dancer, and the connotations that arise when you set a male/female duet, I also feel really lucky to explore this work with Tony. He is an incredible mover, and an even better collaborator, with a breadth of experience that I think will be really informative for me as I continue to uncover my own artistic voice.
K: I think the number one thing that the time constraint changes about my process is that it removes the ability to censor myself. I feel like most of the work I have made, whether at studios, in college, or professionally, takes FOREVER to create because I am constantly changing my mind, throwing ideas away, or second guessing my artistic intuition. The first time that I participated in NACHMO, I didn't end up building a piece at all. I felt so paralyzed with anxiety over the limited time to create, that every time I was in the studio, I threw out the entire piece I had created the rehearsal previously. I ended up improvising for the performance, and felt that I had totally wasted the opportunity. I pushed myself to participate again the following year, and was able to create a piece, but I was working off of an old framework so I felt like I was breaking the rules. This year, with Tony's help, I have decided to let go of all the self-judgment, and just go with impulse. I have found it to be very freeing, and honestly, what Tony and I created in one rehearsal is already far more interesting to me than many of the pieces I have created over months and months of rehearsal.
N: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
K: My preferences for dance and choreography are, admittedly, pretty flippant. I can easily say all the obvious choices: Ohad Naharin is a genius, and Pina Bausch was a goddess. But otherwise, I don't tend to follow specific choreographers. I can say that lately I have found myself really drawn to strong, percussive, athletic movement, so basically anything coming out of Israel is incredible to me. I also really enjoy subtle, but complex and intelligent work, so lately I have been very interested in David Parker. I will say, without a doubt, that Cacti by Alexander Ekman is the absolute best live performance I have ever witnessed.
K: ...that's what she said is a dance theater production and social media project dedicated to providing a platform for women to share their stories. The performance itself features 9 local female choreographers in various stages of their careers who are all making work that speaks to the female experience. The social media project is related, in that it shares stories and images of women in an effort to bring to center stage a picture of life from the female perspective. I started thinking about and planning ...that's what she said about a year ago. I had been thinking of all the shared concerts I have been a part of, and how often times, you come in, perform, and don't really talk to any of the other performers. I just thought it was so unfortunate that so many of these showcases don't directly support and facilitate connection amongst the performers. I wanted to create a show that would build a community, and because of my personal interests and passions, I specifically wanted to create a show that would build a community of women. My favorite piece of my own choreography is Pillow Talk, which I created in 2014. The dancers whispered throughout the entire performance, and a great deal of feedback I received was in response to this whispering: what were they saying? why couldn't we hear them? And so when thinking about my show, I realized that the best way to build community while intriguing audience and inspiring discussion was to incorporate story telling into the theme of the production. We recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to cover all production costs for the show, and I am proud to say that we managed to raise 100% of our goal in under two weeks. I am in the process of setting a stretch goal of $5000, so that we can provide choreography stipends that more accurately reflect the worth of the work being created. I am also in the process of gathering more stories from women of all backgrounds for my social media campaign. Ideally, it would be great to have enough participants that I could create a corresponding movement piece which would feature a diverse cast of dozens of women... but we'll see! Anyone interested in participating can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Additionally, if anyone is interested in following the project or learning more, please follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@followwhatshesaid), check out our IndieGoGo, or visit our website!