N: You are very open about living with Cystic Fibrosis and raise awareness about it in your work. Can you tell us a bit about Continuing Fluctuations; a piece you created about living with invisible chronic illness?
H: Continuing Fluctuations is actually a collection of work that we are hoping to share in a full evening performance in May. Each piece explores a different aspect of life with chronic illness. We have been trying to tackle a little bit of everything. Current inspirations include facing feelings of anxiety, finding your place in the world and dealing with outside perception. I strive to create work that can reach an audience on an emotional level regardless of their previous experience with chronic illness. Everyone can relate to these feelings because they are innately human. If people can make the connections on an emotional level, maybe they can start to understand and be more empathetic in their daily lives. You never know what someone is silently struggling with.
The piece that we are working on for NACHMO is an extension of this work starting to explore the idea of losing independence. Everyone is faced with the prospect of becoming dependent upon family members for care. For most people it is a temporary situation and does not become permanent until very old age. People living with chronic illness, even young, otherwise independent people, often find themselves in positions where they must rely on the support of others to help with everyday activities. Sometimes this dependence is for a short stretch of time just to recover. Other times this dependence can become permanent and last for years. In this piece, I am hoping to capture what it feels like to loose that independence.
N: Several members of Monkeyhouse live with invisible illnesses. Thank you for tackling such an important topic! What has the response been to the work? What do you feel you’ve learned through the process of creating it?
H: The overall response has been positive, but like everything in the arts we need more support to keep the project going. We are currently running a fundraising campaign to support the production costs of the May performance. I hope that seeing a glimpse of what we are working on as part of NACHMO, people will step up and support our small company.
Creating this work has been an amazing experience. With every new idea comes a new opportunity not only to explore movement, but also to explore within myself what is at the root of the idea, what am I actually trying to say. I think that is true for any artist working through his or her own process of artistic expression. Each idea I have presented has been a part of who I am for a long time. They are snippits of thoughts that have shaped the person I have become and how I have decided to live my life. They are all things that people living with chronic illness are often faced with every day. We are forced to work through these ideas and make life- altering decisions long before our peers. In exploring these ideas in a public space, maybe we can start a conversation.
N: What are you most excited about for this year’s National Choreography Month?
H: I am most excited about seeing what other choreographers have created in such a short period of time. NACHMO is always a great opportunity to touch base with the dance community and see what everyone is doing.
N: Who are some of your favorite choreographers?
H: I think my favorite at the moment is Wayne McGregor. He did a Ted Talk back in 2012 about his choreographic process. It was really interesting to see how he creates abstract movement that is inspired by seemingly mundane things. I like the way his work is modern and yet uses the lines of ballet to create interesting shapes.