By Nicole Harris
Introducing our next ChoreoFest choreographer, Kelsey Saulnier! She will be working in one of the site specific locations at Green Street during the festival.
Don't miss Kelsey and all of the ChoreoFest artists at Ignite on June 23rd! Get your tickets today!
Nicole Harris: Your work incorporates both choreographed movement and improvisational scores. How do you weave those two things together within the same work? What sorts of improvisation scores are most interesting to you? How have you developed an idea from simple improvisation to a repeatable score?
Kelsey Saulnier: I like to think of improvisation and set material as not so different, and this helps to weave these two ideas together and transition in and out of them within the same work. Improvisation is simply about in the moment choice making, and because of this there is always some degree of improvisation in all that we do. Even in set material, we are not necessarily choosing to come up with new movement, but we are constantly choosing how we embody what is already there; we are choosing how to make it come alive… how to make it more profound than just a shape; or how not to.
I am most interested in improvisational scores that stem from a more visceral place… scores that provoke movement from the inside out. It is one thing to put on a piece of sound and simply improvise to it, but this sort of feels like a wash for me. I do not know where the movement is coming from or why, and although this is a valid way of working it does not sit right with my dancing body. Which is sometimes okay, but not ideal. Scores that deal with an imagined density or resistance, a cooking of the organs, a spreading of skin or imagined imprinting of the air. Scores like this really allow me to work without the notion that my movement has too look a certain way, and dance from a place of true investigation.
I like to video myself improvising sometimes, then relearn only the best bits and string them together into a more repeatable phrase. Improvisational scores are also wonderful choreographic tools. For example, I can propose a score that deals with attempting to move exclusively from your most inner bone marrow, and instead of improvising with it, create set movements that embody this task and string them together into phrasework.
N: What are you most nervous about for ChoreoFest?
KS: I feel most nervous about being invested in a particular artistic process for twelve hours straight. I enjoy creating work in pieces because it allows me to step outside of it for a bit and get some perspective on what the heck I just made. This is especially helpful with solo work. I can revisit it later with fresh eyes. Being IN a work for this extended amount of time feels frightening but also like a totally exciting challenge. I am interested in how far I will fall into it.
N: Who are your mentors, past and present?
KS: Two movers/mentors that have been super important in my development as an artist are Chris Aiken and Leslie Frye-Maietta. They’re two very special humans in the Five Colleges that taught me during my time in undergrad and really helped me find my voice as an improviser. Chris teaches at Smith College and is a master at improvisation both in contact and composition. I have worked closely with him over the years in both class and rehearsal settings and he has supported me endlessly. Leslie really opened my eyes to what else dance and movement could be artistically when I first arrived at college. She is an amazingly thoughtful choreographer and really great at pulling heart and soul out of everyone she works with. I’ve danced for her in many of her works over the past four years and her rehearsal process has always been super transformative for me.
N: Where else can we find you this Spring/Summer?
KS: This summer is filled with lots of dance, work, and travel, which is so wonderful. I am showing a newish-solo around NYC throughout June. I’ll also be spending some time in Vienna during July/August dancing/studying at ImPulsTanz. I have had my eye on this festival for years and feel so grateful and excited that it was able to work out this summer. Other than that, I work as a nanny and a dog walker (the hustle is real). So, you might find me out walking some pooches.
N: What other local companies/ choreographers do you recommend people check out? Why?
KS: Jenna Pollock is a thoughtful and fiery choreographer who is doing wonderfully progressive things in the Boston area. She emphasizes the importance of improvisation and works to create thought provoking dance. I recommend checking her out if you haven’t. Also, David Dorfman Dance Company. They are not exactly local to Boston, but they often hold rehearsals and intensives in Connecticut as well as NYC. Their work is humorous, quirky, abstract, athletic, and truly joyful. They are a company of kind and caring individuals who everyone should really check out.