by Nicole Harris
Today's interview is with our own Choreography Mentee, Elizabeth Powers! Learn more about her and see the awesome movement she's been creating on Instagram!
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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!
E: I think that the most exciting part of creating choreography for me is watching a piece tell me where it’s going. I tend to base what I do off of the dancers that I have and how they respond to various tasks and structures. Sometimes I start off with a concept and other times I start off with one specific movement but however it happens, whatever is presented at the end is rarely indicative of that original idea. I am always amazed by the transition that occurs throughout the process of creating a piece and love that I can count on the process to inform me about what’s supposed to happen next.
N: You have been working on how to include improvisation structures in your choreography. What is it about that idea that appeals to you?
E: One of the things that I appreciate most about dance is its presence. Any movement is literally occurring the second that it is being done and then it is gone. Even in dances that are highly specific and choreographed with every detail in place, there is always a factor that will make it different each time it is performed. In college I was encouraged to allow different things to happen with each performance as a way to not get stuck in the choreography that we had been practicing for months. By incorporating improvisation structures into my piece I am looking to max out this concept. I am hoping that the improvisational elements will facilitate a feeling of exciting uncertainty within the dancers regarding what is coming next that it will read for audience members.
N: What are you most excited about for this year’s National Choreography Month?
E: Honestly just having the opportunity to make a dance and move with people that I care about. I am super excited about the cast that I am working with and having the support and guidance of Monkeyhouse has made this process so positive. I love that NACHMO is in January because it gives us the opportunity to start off this new year by making and sharing art. I am also super excited to attend the NACHMO final performance and see what all of the other choreographers have been up to this month!
E: The dancers that I am working with are connected to Monkeyhouse in various ways but most come from different dance backgrounds. What I am looking forward to and the challenges of working with this group are almost the same. Other than working with Karen and Nicole as either students or company members, there are not many past experiences that all dancers have in common. While this can be a challenge in figuring out how to explain certain tasks or improvisation structures, it also allows me as a choreographer to highlight the individual strengths of each dancer. Additionally, when dancers from different backgrounds come together and work on tasks, what comes out of them is often not at all what I anticipated which is really exciting to see from a choreographers perspective.
N: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
E: There are so many! Two of my favorite choreographers whose work I was fortunate enough to see live when I studied abroad in London are Akram Khan and Hofesh Shechter. I’m a big fan of Heidi Henderson and Doug Varone as well. I also greatly appreciate the classic work and specifically the methods of creating movement of Trisha Brown.