21 QUESTIONS ABOUT STRANGE ENGAGEMENTS
1. I originally set out with this work to explore temporality, rhythm, respiration, imperfect systems, interconnectedness. My primary approach to organization is “organic-ization”, something akin to the style of flower arrangement where tremendous effort goes into making a composition look completely natural. To hint at the deliberateness of the choreography, moments briefly crystalize where I have applied more traditional choreographic tools like unison, retrograde, canon and Busby Berkeley patterns.
2. Things that look amorphous, impulsive and incidental are actually deeply considered. This is hinted at by flashes of form that make one aware of the deliberateness of the chaos and non-sequiturs, but the pace of the work makes it difficult from one moment to the next to rest in either of these experiences.
3. Strange Engagements is a kind of follow-up to X (2010, Danspace Project) in that both are extremely musical and danced mostly in silence. Like Forgetful Snow (2014, The Kitchen), the dancers meet-up for organic and complicated interconnected duets, trios, quartets and, in this case, quintets, as they dance together and at the same often with separate agendas.
4. An expansive vocabulary, “crappy” (incidental) movement made into something monumental.
5. Formalizes an informal movement vocabulary through a considered study of some fundamental aspects of music and dance.
6. It’s a bit mad.
7. It’s loud and driving in silence.
8. The dancers dance with each other, not for the audience. They were especially exposed in this minimalistic production and the intimate setting of St. Mark’s church.
9. It’s unadorned. The spareness/minimalism of the production allows the audience an intimate and genuine experience.
10. What I want to say is that this dance is going to be nuts, strong and rhythmic, monstrously intricate. They are going to dance the heck out of it.
11. Within the groupings it’s difficult to understand where one individual’s experience begins and the other’s ends.
12. Mutual decision making, but not by sight.
13. A quality of openness and genuine freedom.
14. Alternate title: Death Drive Dance Party -Laurel
15. “Nothing pretty about this.”
16. Punctuation and focus is provided by pauses, clearing the space (making the space vast), abrupt light changes and periodic single long reverb-y guitar chords.
17. Stray words: Intricately interconnected, ferocious, driven from within, raw, alchemical, articulate, charged, impulsive, naturalistic, exuberant, pulsing, fleshy, active /buzzy, multidimensional, possessed, idiosyncratic, non-sequiturs, uninhibited, liminal, raw, head-banging, ecstatic, wild hive mind, peripheral, energetic, circumventing, merging & diverging agendas, sucked into currents, no judging as good or bad, should or shouldn’t, ending up where you didn’t expect to end up, syncopated, polyrhythmic, stamina pushing, structurally extravagant relentless beast, ornate, genuine, raucous.
18. We began this work during a residency at Bennington College. There I literally gathered raw material — movement material that feels raw. Videotaping the dancers improvising I felt like I was capturing spirits — like old-fashioned spiritualists did — by attempting to use my technology as spiritualists used photography in its early days to capture something elusive and usually unseen.
19. The dancers and I are a group of people who come together for esoteric practices.
20. One rehearsal I realized that I’m making my version of Meat Joy, the work I most admired in the Judson show at MOMA. As we stood in the third gallery waiting to enter to perform Simone Forti’s See Saw, Yanira Castro and I would play a game: “Which work here do you wish you’d made?” Me: “Meat Joy!”
21. In rehearsals sometimes I feel like I’m making a strange version of “Hair”.
Strange Engagements Promo, 2020