Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Friday, September 25, 2009

9 questions for Peter Sciscioli

9 Questions for 9 Choreographers 

How would you describe the piece you are currently working on? 

It’s a work for four people, including myself.  The basis for our exploration centers around the question of “what elements need to be present in order for a transformation to occur?”.  We’re using a combination of movement tasks, voice and intentionality to craft sections that have somewhat formal parameters, but that allow for freedom to create within the moment. 

What inspired you to create this piece? 

I’ve been wanting to work toward an evening length work for some time.  My experiences working with such artists as Jane Comfort, Meredith Monk and Daria Fain have inspired me in numerous ways, and I see this process as an opportunity to filter all of those influences to find what it is I’m personally interested in exploring. 

Where does this piece fit into your overall body of work?  Is it more

similar or dissimilar to the rest of your work?  How? 

This piece is sort of a departure and a culmination of my work, all at once.  I’m attempting to work in a new and open way, while drawing on my observations and ways of working at different points in time over the course of my choreography.  It’s less “dancey-dance” than some of my earlier works, and incorporates more vocals than I’ve used previously.  It’s more similar to some of my solo explorations which are usually highly structured improvisations, inclusive of the inhabitation of certain states. 

What significant shifts in your work or creative process have you seen

over time?  Why do you think those shifts occurred? 

As mentioned, there’s been several- at the outset, back in the mid to late ‘90s, I was fairly new to dance and choreography, but very versed in music and theater, so my work had a more theatrical edge to it, more interdisciplinary an approach.  Then, in my desire to learn more about choreography, I turned to making dance works that were comprised of dance phrases and lots of partnering, usually with a narrative overlay.  After awhile, I felt like I was making things in a similar way each time, which I found limiting and frustrating.  I came back to a more theatrical approach and straddled the line between those worlds for several years.  Now I’m trying to integrate into a whole…This all has to do with my exposure to different ways of working, and trying to go deep into what it is I really want to express, and finding the best means to express it. 

Why do you choose to express yourself with dance? 

Dance to me has the capability of being universal, but also has the danger of being esoteric.  I’m fascinated by that tension, and am now trying to break out of it more, toward maintaining an accessibility but with a rigor and discipline toward experimentation.  I enjoy the non-linear, non-literal capability that dance possesses, yet see it as very intertwined with what we deem as music or theater.  It’s no longer easy for me to differentiate clearly between those forms.  I think I prefer to create within what I call a choreographic framework because it allows me the most freedom. 

What about today's environment feeds your work?  What is your favorite thing about dancing now?  What do you find the most challenging?   

I still like the “anything is possible” aspect of making work, even though so much has been explored and done before.  I suppose it’s still a matter of how you put it together, how all this information is filtered though YOU.  I’m influenced by not only what is going on in the dance environment, but in the social/political/historical sphere as well.  

I have immensely enjoyed the exposure to many different methodologies, techniques, philosophies in New York. 

The most challenging aspect for me (aside from the financial one) is to quiet the mind enough to discover what is at the core of my curiosities, and then allow them to manifest into a work. 

What is your happiest dance memory? 

Hard to pin it down to one.  Maybe dancing in the living room as a child, with no one watching. 

What do you do on a daily basis to support your choreography? 

Think and observe. 

If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask? 

What sustains you?  What asks you to keep going?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Questions for Choreographers: Merryn Kritzinger

How would you describe the piece you are currently working on?

It is an exploration of human insecurities and social interactions. I like small spaces so I am doing a piece in the closet. I like the idea of the differences in how a person acts when they are by themselves and when they are among people they are comfortable with and how they act when they are in social settings. What parts of their personality do they hide? What parts do they decide to show? Why do they choose those things and what in their life has set up those boundaries?

What inspired you to create this piece?

The amazing opportunity that I can make a piece in a house that I am living in! We have this great double closet upstairs and I really like the idea of being in a space where no one can see you. Even the person you are in the room with can’t see you. Jasmine and I did some improvisations where we each took a closet and we watched them on video. We noticed how different our dances were when we knew that we couldn’t see each other. I also have been dealing a lot lately with wondering why I feel like a certain part of me is not real, not honest when I am around other people. I’ve been interested to know why I’ve set these restrictions or why I’ve created this mask that I put on outside and when I am around other people. With a month of time to work on it, I thought that would be a really interesting thing to explore.

Where does this piece fit into your overall body of work?  Is it more similar or dissimilar to the rest of your work?  How?

It’s very different from anything else I’ve ever done. In one way it’s different because I’ve never worked in the title of choreographer and most of the work that I’ve done, if I have been in that role, I’ve taken very light heartedly. I will do a joke or a spoof on a dance, make mock pieces or make jokes about music videos. I’ve never actually taken it seriously until now. Also, It differs a lot because all of the work I’ve ever done has been based in movement. I’m a mover and I work as an interpreter most of the time, so it is all very physical for me. A challenge that I’ve added in for this exploration is to step out as the mover and try to communicate verbally with my dancer so that I can develop work that has my concept but is less about how I move. It’s quite a challenge.

Why do you choose to express yourself with dance (this medium)?

There are two parts in answer to that question. The first is that I’ve always been a mover and a dancer and I’ve always felt that I could articulate best through movement. Even when I’m having a conversation it always has to be very physical for me. I’m not so good on the phone etc. I like physical interaction, I like how honest it can be.

The second part to that is that it is not the only way I express myself. I have a large interest in writing and video and in other forms of expression. I think that in exploring those other mediums I am fueling the dance as well.

What about today's environment feeds your work? What is your favorite things about dancing and creating now? What do you find the most challenging?  

That dance is starting to be more widely excepted and explored by the general public. It’s being brought into the media a lot more and I find that when I have conversations with people about dance more and more people understand what it is what we do.

The main thing that I am thinking about now is that I can actually do this as my job. Maybe it’s a selfish answer That I am being given this house for a month and a half to create my art and express myself in. I never imagined that this would be something that I would be able to do.

The most challenging is having the money to be a creator. The arts are always the first things to go in a budget. And with our government right now with Stephen Harper...I’m lucky as an interpreter that there are established companies that will still have funding. But, to be an independent choreographer is not something that gets a lot of attention or funding because people are afraid to trust in something new.

What is your happiest dance memory?

One summer I was doing a program in toronto with Milton Meyers, I was very near finishing at Ailey and was demonstrating for Milton’s classes. We were doing rep from Alvin Ailey’s Revelations and we did the amazing piece Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel. The way Milton Meyers was expressing it with his face and his whole body it was so beautiful to translate that and then to dance it is my happiest dance memory.

What do you do on a daily basis to support your choreography?

The first thing that comes to mind is my physical upkeep. When I’m good I give myself my own class stretching and strengthening exercises and finding something else inspiring had been a more recent but most improtant edition to my regular schedule. Looking elsewhere to music, singing, painting or taking pictures, not being any good and and not being well trained. Being physically active and being around people that inspire me. My boyfriend is in theater and I have other friends that are artists, they inspire me.

If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask?

I would ask what my biggest fears are. It takes up a lot of my brain space for me as it does for all artists. I would answer myself with insecurity. I place so much of my success in other peoples happiness and pleasure, if they are having a good time. The insecurity that comes when I am not getting that feedback or reaction is my biggest fear, not having it and not knowing that it is there.

Merryn Kritzinger is a Canadian artist, raised in Toronto and currently living in Montreal where she works as a dancer, singer, and actress. She began training in Toronto at the National Ballet School of Canada, Canadian Children's Dance Theater, Pia Bouman School for Ballet, and Etobicoke School of the Arts. She furthered her professional training as a Fellowship student at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. During her time at Ailey she worked with American choreographers Peter London, Troy Powell and Takehiro Ueyama, and Paris Opera's Alexandre Proia. In 2006 Merryn joined the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company as a company member. With NNCDC she performed in New York, New Jersey, across America, and on international tours to Mexico and Poland.

Since her move to Montreal in 2007 Merryn joined Hélène Blackburn's Cas Public, and will be part of the company's new creation in spring 2010. Merryn recently returned from The Netherlands, where she participated in an arts residency as both dancer and choreographer. You can view some of the work and documentation at dydances.blogspot.com.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

signs and inspiration in Delft

Yesterday Merryn and I went to downtown Delft to explore and find inspiration.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Delft with Merryn and the lady with the rabbit cutouts

House number 156 Delft, The Netherlands
Merryn and Liset (a wonderful dutch artist) watching people go by and
Merryn rehearsing in the front room.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lizzie Mackenzie Questions for Dancers

Why did you audition for Springboard Danse Montreal?

I auditioned for Springboard because at the time I thought I was going to be needing a job, so that was huge. I also wanted to look new places and experience new things in reference to getting a new job. I have been tunnel vision on Chicago because I have been there for so long. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and see some other things so I could make an educated choice.

How would you describe your experience so far?

It’s been great, I’ve learned a ton. I’ve met amazing people. The entire experience has been awesome.

Do you feel like a dancer and what does that mean to you?

Yes, I feel like a dancer. I have felt like a dancer from the first moment I took class at twelve years old. A ballet teacher once said to me that we shouldn’t define ourselves by what we do. I contemplated that for many years, it bothered me because dance encompasses everything about me. I am a dancer.

Do you ever struggle with confidence issues? How do you deal with confidence issues when they sneak up on you?

Yes, I struggle with confidence issues. I am a type A personality so I don’t struggle to the point that it effects my dancing or my learning process but like every human being I have moments of insecurity, moments of questioning myself. I don’t have trouble bringing myself out of that. I look to people I trust when I have those moments.

What do you wish you had known about dancing that you instead had to figure out?

(Laughs) There is a long, long list. Besides the technical things of course because we could go on forever. I wish I had known that trusting people and trusting the relationships in the studio would help me become a better dancer. Instead of being scared of the relationships in the studio. For a long time I was the youngest and really quiet, I didn’t communicate with people. As I’ve gotten older I realize that the communication and the openness really feeds my dancing and allows me to grow.

How would you describe your relationship with your body?

I can honestly say that unlike most dancers I truly love my body. I love and respect my body. I take very good care of my body. I am very careful about what I eat and I get constant care. I go to the chiropractor, I get massages. I’m still a dancer, I have those moments and many of them that I look in the mirror and I don’t think that I am ideal. I love my body, I truly do. I always wish that I was thinner. It’s a dancer thing.

How does that relationship impact your art?

I feel good about my body and I am very confident in my body. I feel confident that my body is strong and well trained so therefore I feel it allows me a lot of freedom in my dancing. It allows me to be fearless about approaching things...movement, choreography, technique.

What do you do on a daily basis to support your dancing?

Everything I do physically supports my dancing.  I teach and I choreograph and through this I am always learning about myself as a dancer. I don’t go outside of dancing as far as hobbies and things like that. Financially, I teach I choreograph, I run a company. I do a lot of things to allow me the freedom to come to something like Springboard.

What is your favorite part of working with young people?

It is so gratifying. THere is nothing like seeing someone accomplish something they thought they couldn’t do and knowing that you were a part of it. Those are huge life lessons. So when you see a kid overcome something and see the results of their hard work. That is a lesson weather they dance or not that they will carry with them. and just the impact I get to have on their lives.  They look up to me, they look to me for things.

What is the most challenging?

Sometimes I get resentful because I give so much of myself to them, and they’re kids, so 90% of the time they are very grateful (laughs) maybe 75% of the time. But if they are grateful or not I think they don’t realize how much I give them of myself. Not that I need praise but they don’t realize that I think of them at night. I think about them first thing in the morning. 'How come Jaime couldn’t turn out her leg today or why couldn’t she point her foot that day?' It consumes my thoughts. Sometimes they give me what I call poopoo face in the studio and it hurts me so deeply because I give so much of myself and my time. You learn later in life how grateful you really are.

What about today's environment feeds your work? What is your favorite things about dancing and creating now?

In the last five years of my life I feel like I’ve had so much growth in myself. Between the age of 25-30 I’ve learned so much about who I am and what I want, what is important to me. Those things effect my work and I choreograph about those things. I’ve also been able to organize relationships I’ve had. At the time they seemed so stressful but now I feel better able to observe and organize them. The ability to organize them allows them to be more a part of my work because I can understand them and the emotions that went with them.

What do you find the most challenging?  

Funding being cut for the arts. That is the scariest thing for me. And in teaching parents always question ‘should my kid really do this, can they make a living at it?’ It is scary to encourage kids to do it as the funding goes to the wayside.

Why did you choose dance as you medium?

I didn’t choose it, it chose me. There was never a choice.

When did you first feel that way?

I felt it in the first couple of months when I was twelve years old. This is what I want to to and I am going to do it for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

9 questions for Dorian Nuskind-Oder

Dorian Nuskind-Oder is a dancer, choreographer. and freelance video editor. Her dances have been presented in New York by Joyce Soho, Chen Dance Center, Dixon Place, Performance Mix, Dancenow|NYC Festival at DTW, Stella Adler Studios and Dance Conversations @ The Flea. In Quebec, her work has been presented by Springboard Danse Montreal at Usine C and Place-des-Arts, The Margie Gillis Foundation at UQAM, and the New Dance Alliance at Studio 303. As a performer, Dorian worked with Misnomer Dance Theater for 4 years, helping to create three evenings of work. She holds a BFA from NYU-Tisch. 

How would you describe the piece you are currently working on?

The piece I am currently working on is called Wolf House and it is a solo for Alison Clancy with original music composed by a good friend of ours Ian Williams and performed live by a man named David Herman on electric guitar. I would describe it as an exploration. It came from the music I was interested in creating a series of pieces where a song is created and used as a text to create the work. This particular song evokes a character for me who is sort of at once a little bit feral and aggressive and at the same time ultimately a friendly presence. We started working with images of a wolf in a confined space and also thinking of it as a wolf/rockstar so you have this dichotomy of a creature and being something that is on display. Being at once something that is extroverted and aggressive and at the same time somewhat out of her element. it’s a character study in an abstract way.

What inspired you to create this piece?

I have been really interested in sound in general lately and this particular composer came to see a dance/now festival show at DTW and what he had to say to me afterwards was that he was curious if dancers were aware of the ambient sound while they were performing because he felt that in a lot of the work the music was this pasted on recorded thing. We started to talk about interesting ways to have sound more involved in the work and we talked about electric guitar as being a very visceral sort of sound and how vibration can shape space. That was the starting point was this interest in having this tactile sense of sound that you can get from having an amplified in a small space.

Where does this piece fit into your overall body of work?  Is it more similar or dissimilar to the rest of your work?  How?

Well, I’m young, so in general tend to approach each piece really differently, I don’t feel like I’ve found a rhythm of working style yet and so it fits as being another branch of exploration. It does fit a pattern of being interested in solo work and being interested in a theatricality of work. There is a use of set design and props to create a sense of space and also being interested in having the music and the dance and the performance all be fully integrated. In this piece Alison sings so it is not just musician and dancer, she is part of the musical performance as well. In my mind I am interested in knitting that all together. A lot of my work now involves dancers either speaking or singing hopefully in a way that is more about integrating them into the sound score than having them speak a scene. It’s more about sound.

What significant shifts in your work or creative process have you seen over time?  Why do you think those shifts occurred?

I had a big shift last summer when I was here because my work up to that point tended to be more about geometry, formal structure and body design . I made a lot of works in which my primary interest was in line and form and while I was here I was collaborating with Regina Gibson the actress and she did a lot of stuff with sound with the dancers and it got me thinking about sound and it got me thinking about intention because she kept asking ‘why? why? why?’. Why are the dancers making these physical choices? What are they trying to accomplish? That was a shift for me. I became more curious about intention, about theatricality, and about decisions within the work. I’m now more interested in people than objects. I think that’s why solo work is so interesting to me right now. It is giving me the opportunity to explore the dancer as a complete person and that’s why the sound and the speaking are becoming more important to me. I think it’s weird that dancers are just bodies so much of the time. Even that we are trained to cover the sound of our feet. I understand why that exists but there is a rawness that I am more interested in now than I was three or four years ago.

Why do you choose to express yourself with dance?

I don’t know the answer to that question. Sometimes I feel like dance performance isn’t the right medium for me. Initially I was attracted to the ephemeral nature of it. Like when you have that experience of writing things and then you go back to read them and it is almost painful. In dance you can make something and walk away from it and it is as if it never happened. As an artistic process for exploration it is really liberating because you don’t leave a trail behind of stuff that you don’t ever want to see again. But now ironically that is one of the things that frustrates me the most about dance performance and that is why I am interested in making dance films. I see the limits of dance performance in terms of being a communicative medium.

In order for a medium to really communicate effectively I’m feeling that there is a certain amount of repetition of exposure. Look at music and the music that is popular and the songs that you love. You love them because you know every word and it becomes a shared experience. When you go to see a dance performance chances are you are only going to see it once and the only way to get a lot out of dance is to train your eye so that you can recognize things and have a context for it. But that requires that you live somewhere where there is dance happening all the time and that you have the money to go see dance performances in order to have that familiarity and I feel like that is why dance doesn’t function as a popular medium the way music and film do. I’m intrigued by making dance films so that people can have that kind of experience where you can go home and watch it over and over again. Like that Vim Vandekeybus film. The more I watch it the more I fall in love with that film and I don’t have that relationship with stage performances because you never see anything more than once. You don’t get that personal repetitive familiarity where you just know every detail and it is so satisfying to see the things that you remember occur. You can re-experience the joy of it. I’m beginning to wonder if dance film is more the place for me for that reason. I love the idea of somebody sitting down on their own and watching something, with the narcissistic idea that they may want to watch it again. Maybe if I make something really good they will! I don’t see that possibility with performance. Though I love live performance and I love to perform. I just feel like that is a limitation of the medium.

What about today's environment feeds your work? What is your favorite things about dancing now? What do you find the most challenging?


I think that there is a trend right now towards collaborating with contemporary musicians and a resurgence of live music especially bands being incorporated into dance performances and that’s really exciting to me. I feel like that is a really smart place for dance to go because I think it is a really natural fit, indie punk rock music and contemporary dance. I get excited by those types of collaborations and the energy that comes with that. I’m also excited about and hoping things like couchsurfing.com and the internet will encourage people to go back to grass roots touring. I see a little bit of that happening and I know a couple of artists that are planning on doing that kind of work in the coming years. I think that is an awesome way to go because for a long time especially in the states we have the attitude that touring is out our reach.

Obviously the biggest challenge is money. It just is. It’s depressing because I was reading articles on line last night that arts funding in Montreal is being cut. You think it’s better other places and it’s really not. I feel that in New York because of the monetary challenges a lot of people making work don’t spend enough time researching. It’s always about banging out a piece for the season and it’s really frustrating. Even the model of needing to have a fully produced season every year, even if you self produce, I feel like it would be more productive to do a show every two years and do more studio showings. Seeing people bankrupt themselves to put on work that hasn’t been fully completed is a viscous cycle and I don’t know how to break out of that.

What is your happiest dance memory?

I really loved when I was 13 or 14 and still at my dolly-dinkle studio and we would put on these giant elaborate recitals. I was kind of at the top of the heap at that point and I would get all of the solo roles. I would feel like such a rock-star and we would be in a 2,000 seat house and tons of people were there, and you would get to be the ballerina doll in your tutu. I don’t think I have ever in my professional career have had that glory sense of being the star. That doesn’t really exist. It was such an unadulterated excitement and feeling of confidence importance. Being in the theater was still really cool. You had your own dressing room. Everything was really new and that was really fun. I loved those giant productions.

What do you do on a daily basis to support your choreography?

I read a lot and I try to expose myself to different ways of organizing information. Most of my ideas of choreographic structures come from looking at the structures of other things be they art forms or philosophical theories. Anything where there is a list or a diagram or a way of organizing ideas I find really inspiring. I try to find essays online that have something to do with structure. I also like to do yoga because it is a physical practice that doesn’t concern itself with approval seeking and I like to remind myself that movement doesn't always have to be about giving myself a pat of the back. Yoga and physical or idea structures are the two things that help me make dance.

If you were interviewing yourself, what would you ask?

One constant obsession of mine right now is do you have to be an asshole to make good work? Do you need to have that level of self focus in order to have an aesthetic that is clear enough to be a real clear artistic statement. I don’t have the answer but I am becoming concerned that you do have to be an asshole to make really good art. In other art forms you have to have that level of focus and drive but you are really only subjecting yourself to it you are sitting in you room painting for hours and throwing things out or going through draft and drafts of writing something. We have the unfortunate reality of subjecting other people to it and so you do have to be that singe minded in the pursuit of your own aesthetic needs and pulling it out of you dancers by whatever means necessary. But what is funny, and what I forget, is that dancers really want to do that. Talking to people after watching the Gallim show people were saying ‘Yes, I want to be pushed to the point that I am physically scared and then to know that I can do it.’ The first time I saw Jan Faber’s show live I was talking to dancers and had the feeling myself that I want to work for somebody who can inspire me to not be afraid to lay underneath a couch while two guys throw it up in the air and if it fell it would crush my pelvis. I have to remember that you are demanding unreasonable things from people, but part of the thrill and satisfaction of being a performer is managing to meet unrealistic expectations. That is what makes it worth it. Otherwise it gets boring the thrill is in pushing those boundaries. I’m afraid to ask people to go there, but when I do they seem to like it. I’ve been doing that with Alison in this new piece asking her to do strange and awkward things.

Please keep in touch by visiting www.dnodances.org or sending an email to dnuskindoder@earthlink.net 

Dorian's latest work can be seen Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 8pm at Mark Beard and Jim Manfredi's church 5 Franklin Street Catskill, NY.

Email artisticstimulus@gmail.com to reserve your seat. There will be a bus from Manhattan that will leave at 5 pm on Saturday, July 25th from the east side of the street at the corner of East 13th Street and University Place near Union Square. The bus will arrive in Catskill in time for the 8 pm show and leave Catskill at 11:30 pm to arrive back in Manhattan at the pick up location at approximately 1:30 am.