11/7/2016 1 Comment
David Hanzal and Katharine Sherman first invited me to play the role of Beauty in their upcoming production of The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and I was later engaged to provide dances for the multidimensional performance work premiering next month at the Red Eye Theater.
With my history as a choreographer equally comfortable in concert halls and cabaret theaters, the project was good fit for my range, blending the classical beauty of an ethereal fairy tale with more modern influences of pop dance styles, including burlesque and hip hop. Also, my penchant for the dreamlike had been a hallmark of my choreographic work, evident in dances I’d made for Minnesota Dance Theatre and James Sewell Ballet. And so now I was invited to enter the world of Beauty’s dreams and illumine the musical sequences with a distinctive movement dimension.
The choreographic process began last spring with a work-in-progress showing in Savage Umbrella’s Night of New Works series. In collaboration with the ensemble, I developed three of the dances at that time. David shared his intentions for the scenes to be choreographed and often provided links to source material that inspired his vision. I would reference this material, allowing it to loosely inform my own vision.
I ran with the delicious dichotomy captured in what I saw in this new rendering of the story: both poetic gravitas and campy satire. Some of the dances lean toward one end of that spectrum, while some lean toward the other. And sometimes they are interwoven—a sort of dark humor pervading Beauty’s dream world. But also gorgeous, creepy, wild, wistful, obnoxious, exalted, and sublime.
However, that first iteration was specific to the alley-style seating arrangement at Savage Umbrella’s SPACE and to the performers who were working with us then. Coming back together to prepare for the Red Eye Theater production, we have begun transforming the orientation of the dances for a much larger proscenium theater. Also, we’ve been incorporating refreshed intentions and additional performers.
In the midst of this process, working both inside of the dances as a performer and outside as choreographer, I have a unique perspective on the work, seeing it from different angles. I also get to experience the approach of “theater people” and bring my dance perspective into the mix. Through this collaboration, we discover new avenues for creating the movement sequences that help to bring The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood to life.