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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

http://www.AnabellaLenzu.com

Pachamama: Mother World

Pachamama: Mother World is an exploration of Dance Theatre inspired by the male initiation rituals of the Selk’nam, a tribe of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The performance unfolds like a prehistoric commedia dell arte, moving away from the presentational side of dance and reconnecting with the primal impulses of art.
Choreographer: Anabella Lenzu 
Music Landscape: Todd Carroll
Acting and Voice Coach: Daniel Pettrow
Costume and Mask Designer: Jennifer Johanos
Dancers: Lauren Ohmer, Erik Zarcone, Graham Cole, Kara Chan and Sydney Ruf-Wong
Rehearsal Assistant: Hope Parker
Apprentices: Hope Parker, Dina Denis & Cesar Brodermann

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Re-creating Pachamama: Mother World  in Honor of AL / DD’s 10-Year Anniversary

Article by Angela Schöpke  (AL/DD Marketing Assistant)

Anabella Lenzu/DanceDrama is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary as a company through recreating its seminal work, Pachamama: Mother World.

Pachamama: Mother World was first choreographed by Anabella in residence at DUO Multicultural Arts Center (DMAC) and Envoy Enterprises, NYC in 2013, and the company is excited to be rehearsing the piece back at DMAC from February-April of this year. The piece will be performed by Lauren Ohmer (Assistant to the Choreographer), Graham Cole, Erik Zarcone, Kara Chang and Sydney Ruf-Wong. Hope Parker as a rehearsal assistant and dancers Cesar Bordermann and Dina Denis will support the performance as apprentices.

AL/DD will host an open rehearsal on Monday, April 18th at 7:30pm in DMAC’s theater. The company will then perform a thirty-five minute excerpt of the piece 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.

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Why Pachamama?

Pachamama: Mother World is an exploration of Dance Theatre as well as an anthropologic study of male initiation rituals of the Selk’ nam (Onas), a subgroup of the Tehuelches tribe that inhabits the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. The male initiation rituals of the Selk’ nam are celebrated annually, lasting anywhere from three months to almost the entire year.  These rituals have three main functions: initiating boys to adulthood; passing on heritage and cultural legacy of the tribe through sharing songs, spiritualism and religious knowledge; and entertaining the tribe’s women.

Pachamama: Mother World’s performance unfolds like a prehistoric commedia dell arte.  Thirteen characters participate in ten specific rites within the larger ritual of initiation. The rituals, as well as the performance, make use of masks that give the characters superhuman power.

With the 10th anniversary of the company, Anabella is expanding AL/DD to include more dancers. AL/DD was pleased to select a group of four new full company members and three apprentices at an audition held on February 7th at Peridance Capezio Center. New dancers come from the U.S., Mexico, and Italy and have diverse training backgrounds ranging from Juilliard to Joffrey to the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Pachamama: Mother World will act as an important platform of departure for AL/DD’s new dancers to be initiated as members of the company. “We use masks to explore identity,” shares Anabella, “The dancers need to pass through thirteen different masked characters. As they do, each archetypal mask reveals something about the dancer.” 

These thirteen characters describe a range of archetypal narratives, which I’ll take the license to list below as I find that seeing them all in one place reveals the simply incredible breadth of life each dancer must explore as part of his or her initiation. These characters include: Babies( K’terrnen), Cuckold (Koshmenk), Drunk Couple (Hashe and Wakus), Mafia (Shorts), Erotic Clowns (Los Hayilan), Medicine Man / Shaman (Olum), Enigmatic Creature (Tanu), Mother Earth (Xalpen), Prostitute (Kulan), Warrior (Halahaches), The Invisible Foxes (Waash-Heuwan), The Elegant Clowns (Ulen) and The Dancer (Matan)

Each of these characters has an important function in the Selk’ nam ritual as well as in AL/DD’s study thereof. For example, when Selk’ nam men would perform as Babies, they were responsible for communicating with their all female audience whom the community felt were good or bad wives and mothers through the action of advancing or retreating respectively. As such, the Baby played an important role in teaching community values. AL/DD’s engages these ideas deeply through its study of each masked character.

In a move away from the purely spectacular and presentational side of dance, Anabella’s work takes the opportunity to reconnect with the primal impulses of art, creation, communication, identity and celebration. 

Jennifer Johanos has made all masks and costumes, which were created entirely with materials donated by Materials for the Arts/NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education.

Daniel Pettrow, a long-time collaborator with AL/DD, is engaged as voice and acting coach with the dancers, and Todd Carroll has composed and recorded Pachamama: Mother World’s music landscape.

*****Pachamama was developed at DMAC through a space/rehearsal grant to Anabella Lenzu and Envoy Enterprises/ Jimi Dams and funded in part by generous grants from Edward Foundation Arts Fund and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

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