Nicole Harris: What made you want to make the move from being a dancer to a choreographer?
Tyler Catanella: I feel like I've always been more of a choreographer than a dancer. I had some not-so-great experiences when I first started dancing where I felt like a pawn being used in a game I didn't believe in. So now I only do work where collaboration is premier. I encourage everybody in my company to be as smart of a director as they are a performer.
NH: What are you most nervous about regarding ChoreoFest?
TC: SLEEP! The last time we performed in 2013, I got really sick from staying up all night and composing the music to our piece, and only getting to sleep from 7:45-8:30am. I hope that we three companies can all gel together well so that the night goes smoothly (and with enough time to sleepsies)!
NH: Have you participated in ChoreoFest before? If so, what is your favorite memory of that experience? What advice do you have for new ChoreoFest choreographers? Are there things you hope to do differently this time?
TC: Hell yeah we have! My favorite memory was the 8:30am morning tech, where we realized: "Hey, we actually made a really great piece! And we're proud of it!" That was honestly the moment that gave us the confidence to form Paradise Lost into professional company.
As far as advice, I've got two big pointers: 1) Pace yourself! Don't exert a ton of energy in the first hour dancing all out. You've gotta conserve your mental and physical energy so that you have a cohesive piece at the end of the night. And 2) Say YES! Don't spend a lot of time talking about big ideas and improvising without setting. Make strong choices and roll with them. There is no room to go back and edit.
NH: 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?
TC: We will start with a strong ensemble-building exercise that allows us to drop in and play with whatever theme we receive. From there, who knows!
NH: In creating a new work, what in the relationship between you and your dancers? Do they participate in the creative process? If so, how?
TC: Like I stated, I give lots of directorial freedom to those I perform with. I allow them to make choices with their characters, and even create space within the piece where they can set their own choreography. And often times, I'll let people work on something based on an idea or image I have, then bring it back for us to shape and mold together. I've got a ton of trust in these folks :)
NH: Knowing that Karen Krolak will be on hand as "choreographic guru", what things do you hope she can help with in the overnight process?
TC: One word: Sanity. I hope that she can reassure our process and keep us level-headed and focused on the end goal. Seems a pretty cool cat.
NH: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
TC: Right now, I'm really digging a ton of hip-hop choreographers. So I'm really digging Tricia Miranda, WilldaBeast Adams, and Kyle Hanagami to name a few. They're doing great stuff with their dance videos.
NH: Who are your mentors? How are you paying forward the things your mentor gave you?
TC: I've got a ton of mentors in life, many of which are right here in Boston. People like Josie Bray have been incredible mentors in helping me find myself in the work that I do. My Associate Artistic Director Shannon Sweeny is my biggest inspiration in dance world because of how much she believes in what we do, and her bold and much-needed honesty always keeps me in check in the best way. She's the other half of the brain at this point, and the finest collaborator I've ever had/probably will ever have. And most importantly, I reflect so much on my grandparents when I make art. They themselves were hairdressers and worked till they were in their late 80's, but their love, dedication and hard work always keeps me grounded. It reminds me that life comes first, and that we make our art for the people we love and ideas in which we believe.
NH: Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Thanks Monkeyhouse! Paradise Lost loves you!