by Karen Krolak
Nicole enjoyed interviewing the other choreographers we are working with, but Karen stepped in when it came time to interview the choreographers of Voetstoots, Caleb Howe and Nicole herself. Here are their thoughts on collaboration, the choreographic process and working together.
Nicole and Caleb will also be dancing in work by Elizabeth Powers, Karen Krolak and Elyssa Berg.
reACT reBUILD reCOLLECT
Friday, July 27th @ 8pm
665 Salem St, Malden, MA
Tickets available here for only $10 if you use the VIP Code MH10.
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karen Krolak: Lots of people loath collaborating. What drew the two of you to want to build something together?
Caleb Howe & Nicole Harris: We improvise well together. We’ve had a lot of opportunity to experiment with movement together over the last year and while we are both happy with what comes out of those exercises, this was an opportunity to see what could happen with a more prolonged process. Caleb has never choreographed before, and so collaborating gave him the opportunity to build a piece without having to take on everything at once.
kK: Can you describe how this piece grew out of specific Musing exercises?
C: When you first made the umbrellas during the first generation of what later became the Dictionary of Negative Space, they had a very different intent than the prompts you gave when you brought them into rehearsal back in March. You handed an umbrella to me and asked Nicole to coax me out from underneath it. We were the only two in attendance which gave us the opportunity to do a lot in a short amount of time. Working with the same partner over and over again allowed us to build an understanding of how the umbrella moves even as the specifics of the prompt changed.
N: When we left the studio that day both Caleb and I were interested in continuing to play with the ideas you had introduced. Knowing you and what you know of the roles depression and anxiety can play in both mine and Caleb's lives, I am not surprised that you selected those particular prompts for us. When we got in the studio this spring we tried to stay true to the idea of finding the ways you can help support another person, even when that means temporarily setting your own problems to the side. The idea of the umbrella expanded and the journey of the characters developed, but the seed of the piece continues to be that same exercise of two people supportively coaxing each other.
kK: Caleb, how did the umbrella shape your movement choices?
C: Much of the movement that Monkeyhouse is drawn to tends to be very grounded, either on the floor or with hands on the floor. The umbrella does not like to be upside down and so it restricts choices and required me to find more upright movement. While I do have some background in ballroom dance, the choice to use it here came much more from the restrictions the umbrella posed than simply relying on what I knew.
kK: Nicole, this is the first time the you have collaborated with Caleb on choreographing a piece, how was the process different than other choreographers in Monkeyhouse?
N: Since I have primarily collaborated with you for the last 18 years, we have developed a shorthand (both verbal and physical) in working together which doesn’t exists yet with Caleb, so the experience was very different in that regard. I think my biggest challenge was making sure I supported Caleb, who hasn’t choreographed a piece before, in a way that didn’t impose my own agenda on the work or the process.
kK: Caleb, what were some of the challenges you dealt with as you choreographed a piece for the first time?
C: I don’t have any training as a dancer, The challenge for me building this piece was not having a movement vocabulary to draw upon, and having to construct each of the movements from scratch.
N: Caleb described it to me as being similar to when a child learns to read or write. They don’t yet have the experience to recognize entire words but instead process each letter one at a time. I thought that was a really great analogy for what I saw in working with Caleb.
kK: Nicole - how did you find the music for this duet?
N: Before we knew what the piece was going to be we were playing Pink Martini’s “Hang on Little Tomato” in rehearsal. The movement instantly began to transform itself. However we knew we would not get the rights to Pink Martini’s music, so we slowly introduced other pieces of music discovered on Ilicensemusic.com until we found the right combination of what we were looking for, not too fast, no lyrics, not too heavy a swing. Once the music was selected I did a little editing to the beginning to help support the story we are trying to tell.