Come see Ruth’s work on Friday, March 3rd at the Foundry, 101 Rogers St, Cambridge, MA! Tickets are pay what you can. Reserve yours here today!
Nicole Harris: You are a NACHMO pro by now. Do you have any advice for newcomers or those who have been nervous to take the NACHMO challenge?
Ruth Benson Levin: I would say to any newcomer, just relax and enjoy it! It’s the most supportive, low pressure artistic endeavor you could ever do. And it’s a good place to try something you’ve always wanted to try. Plus, if you choose to perform, you get an audience provided for you, which as a choreographer is a wonderful gift.
N: For most of your past NACHMO experiences you worked with your longtime collaborator, Lynn Modell. Due to her schedule she won’t be with you this year. (We will miss you, Lynn!) Can you talk a bit about what you will be doing this year?
RBL: I am creating a solo for a a dancer named Amy Caine. We’ve gotten to know each other as we both dance for Lynn Modell. Amy was also in one of my pieces for across the ages several years ago. Amy has chosen the theme for the dance and we are going to work together on the movement.
N: You made a joke during your conversational application about working with a younger dancer and the things that your body no longer does. As more and more of the dance world is moving away from the idea that all dancers must be young, skinny, and bendy, what advice do you have for choreographers working with artists whose bodies have different abilities than their own? What are some of the tools you are using to communicate what your vision is besides demonstration? How are you creating in a way that leaves room for translation and interpretation by different bodies?
RBL: Amy told me she likes to “fly high and fly low”. Meaning, she likes to roll around on the floor and leap in the air. I can do neither of these things anymore. But I am determined to try to come up with movement that will be satisfying for her. I’ve asked her to create some movement motifs based on words that describe our theme. I like choreographing when I get to start with somebody else is movement rather than my own.
By Nicole Harris
Ruth Benson Levin and Lynn Modell’s piece was one of my favorite parts of NACHMO Boston in 2020. (Which might make it one of my favorite things in 2020 all the way around!) I’m thrilled to have them back this year and to get a chance to learn a little more about them!
To learn more about Ruth & Lynn, NACHMO Boston, and to follow the #MonkeyhouseNACHMOChallenge, follow us on Instagram!
N: I noticed in your bios that you both went to Adelphi. Is that where you met?
R&L: Yes, we met in 1972 as 17-year-old freshman dance majors in the Adelphi U. dance program. After college, we moved to Boston with 2 other AU graduates and formed a company, Kineticompany, 1976-84.
R&L: The heart of Boston is the dance studios. For us, it was Green Street Studios and The Dance Complex (formerly the Joy of Movement Center). This is where we took class, taught class, rehearsed, and performed. The loss of Green Street is huge.
N: How have you been handling quarantine? What have you been doing to keep moving and creating during this year?
R&L: We have performed outdoors 4 times since June: Twice at Larz Anderson Park, Lynn's neighborhood, and at the Starlight Theater. We have rehearsed over Zoom as well as outside. Lynn has continued teaching her classes that used to meet at United Parish in Brookline and now are on Zoom.
N: This year’s NACHMO is different than anything we’ve done in the past, with all events entirely virtual. How will you change your process to deal with the obstacles 2020 brings us? What is the first thing you will do when the month begins?
R&L: It has been difficult for us to get together since winter arrived. Rehearsing outside is unappealing and the rise in Covid numbers has limited our in-person work. We are doing most of our brainstorming and planning on Zoom.
N: This is your second NACHMO as a collaborative pair. What are you most excited about in this process? What are you most nervous about? How are those things different from last year?
R&L: The constraints of virtual performance have motivated us to develop skills in creating and editing video. We're excited to be part of NACHMO to use these new skills.