Article by Angela Schöpke (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)
Welcome to part two of our dancer interviews! You may recall that in part one [hyperlink to pt. 1], apprentices lent some fascinating insight to the intellectual and emotional processes involved in dancing Pachamama: Mother World.
In part two, you’ll notice that dancers Sydney, Graham, Erik, and Kara focus on the challenging relationship of the external expression of a character to the internal. What is it like to become a fox? What does it mean to be an enigma (and indeed is it even possible)? What does it feel like to be cuckolded?
In the following dancer comments, keep an eye out for reflections of AL / DD’s philosophy that motion creates emotion, emotion creates motion. As AL / DD inspiration, musician and teacher François Delsartre suggests, “Every gesture is expressive of something…It is preceded by and given birth by a thought, a feeling, an emotion, a purpose, a design or a motive.”
Here’s what the dancers said about their experiences:
“For me it’s about keeping it real, and what’s authentic to me. How do I think I would be if I were a fox, and embody what that is for me? I ask myself, what does a fox look like – how are its physical features? How is its spine? By focusing outward and thinking about what a fox looks like, that translates to an internal embodiment. Pachamama is about what dance can be, and how it can translate cultural history through storytelling. The creative process of Pachamama is allowing me to engage in that question and storytelling art.” – Kara Chang
“It’s one of the first pieces I’ve danced in a long time where I’ve had to develop characters. When I started, Anabella gave us a very brief outline of each character and how they each fit into the original ritual. I’ve used that as a base and have embellished that with my own life experiences. For example with the male erotic clown, I’ve used some of my own sexual experiences as a point of reference to understand the character. With Tanu it feels more a philosophical solo. Anabella describes it as an enigma, so I try to build these moments for myself that really surprise me to find that enigma. And I love that that’s what makes the character so captivating. The unknown. I try to take the physicality of each character and say okay, how does this physical move affect my breathing and my focus. I take that as a cue as to what I’m feeling in that moment, and then I sort of create narrative for myself. I discover so many moments with every rehearsal and know I will keep discovering them.” – Graham Cole
“Because the movement is so evocative and it’s so physical, when you do them you do feel a certain way. You do feel exhausted, you do feel angry or it inspired your body physically to feel a certain way, so that invents what that piece is about because you’re showing it you’re not acting it. I’m letting the movement engage me in certain feelings. I love what Anabella says about wanting to see artists discover something on stage, really letting that human movement change you in front of people. When I do these things I do feel changed. The other day when I was doing Koshmenk, I did feel angry by the end of it, or so emotionally exhausted that I almost had tears in my eyes from the sheer physicality of the movement and how intense it was.” – Sydney Ruf-Wong
“When I was auditioning I thought this work was just a mix of so many different styles of dance trying to tell a story, but now that I’m really in it, I realize that it’s more than that. It’s a personal journey to embody each character. This process is really challenging because each one of us [dancers] is more or less sensitive to different characters. Dancing with Anabella is very funny. Each rehearsal, I learn more about myself. I’m usually a closed internally-focused person, but with this raw and striking work I feel more confident in sharing my capabilities and also my challenges with some parts of the creative process not familiar to my background.” – Erik Zarcone
Thank you, dancers, for taking the time to share your thoughts! It’s been such a delight to watch you explore your own creative processes with Pachamama: Mother World, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you become each of the work’s thirteen characters in your upcoming performances.
Pachamama: Mother World will be performed at Dixon Place’s FastForward Festival on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:30pm, and the full-length work as part of Sheen Theater’s Italian Dance Connection (IDACO) Festival on Saturday, May 28th, 7.30pm. AL/DD will also host an open rehearsal on Monday, April 18th at 7:30pm in Duo Multicultural Arts Center’s theater. Limited seating, RSVP: info@Anabellalenzu.com
Pachamama: Mother World
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll
Acting and Voice Coach: Daniel Pettrow
Costume and Mask Designer: Jennifer Johanos
Rehearsal Assistant: Hope Parker
Apprentices: Hope Parker, Dina Denis & Cesar Brodermann