Friday, February 26, 2010

Notes from Feb. 21

(I missed the first part of the speakers’ introductions of their process/philosophy on collaboration. And I don’t promise the accuracy of these notes is 100%. But you should be able to get the idea!)

DanceATL Meeting
February 21, 2010
Topic: Collaboration
Speakers: Matt Kent, Creative Director, Pilobolus
    John McFall, Artistic Director, Atlanta Ballet
    Sue Schroeder, Artistic Director, CORE Performance Company

Collaboration is like oxygen, it’s everywhere and everything
He grew up when studios were autocratic and if you were a dancer you followed orders.
He asked a designer who had worked with Cunningham to work with him on a piece. He found out that the way it worked for Merce was that there was no input whatsoever, the designer worked on his own and brought everything to the theater for the day of the performance. He wasn’t comfortable with that kind of lack of control. What if the costumes hindered the movement?

Collaborating for creating work means letting go of control, opening it up to the people she’s working with so they can find things she wouldn’t be able to do alone. It makes each piece new and the approach itself evolves together with the piece and is different each time.

Collaboration means losing control: maximum input and maximum contact
It’s not pretty, not fun, people scream at each other
He likes maximum contact from the beginning of making the piece
Not about niceness, it’s frightening
Why would intelligent people live like this? Because you get what you don’t know to be there, take the scenic route
Different kind of bravery than going solo

How do you market collaboration—to intrigue people send message to and about what you do?

It’s never the same project twice. Once it’s closer to finished and you know what it is.
Try to speak to people about the adventure and journey of committing to a process.

Focus on how to market individual piece
Filtering the process from the wrong angle, getting consumed with what’s populist is a distraction
Collaboration includes people besides the artists—trustees etc.
They want a voice in the creation too, there are many layers from many people with different views
Try to balance things and collaborate with all the interested people
They have resources to bring into the process
It’s an act of faith. You have to go there without distraction and give everything you can
Sue’s 30 years of doing what she does and sustaining it is huge. Matt’s passion and depth of commitment are fantastic

these days you don’t need a PR person, just a profile updater!
Nothing is off limits when collaborating
Don’t market the process except to other artists who might be interested in that specifically as a tool for their own work
People in seats are interested in the product, not the process
Last Dance, movie about the collaboration between Maurice Sendak and Pilobolus, available on Netflix

Question: The audience isn’t necessarily interested in the process unless they’re involved. What are ways to involve them?

re-contextualizing, your stuff next to something else
Practice and learn how to do it

depends on where you are—in other countries they have a different entry point to the work
Heightened access with social media
Theater Communications Group dialogue about people leaving during intermission, short attention spans because used to fast media in small snippets
Everyone’s always stimulated and multitasking
Dance in the South particularly is at the bottom of priorities and you have to engage people on a grassroots level to become comfortable with dancers
It’s about the way you frame it

Comment: Dance needs to fill needs, going to the places it’s needed

Question: You three are distinctive artists, how do your processes differ? Are they more based on accumulation or are they deductive (like the overlap of a venn diagram)?

collaboration is cooperation, you have to be “all in”
Inbal Pinto was making a work with Pilobolus and they freaked her out without meaning to or knowing they were doing it. She said they just kept opening doors and she was afraid she might lose her vision.
Not overlap, try to please everyone. Unfolding, the product is like a document or a map of the process

everyone involved has a commitment to the direction they’re going defined without people leaving
Accumulation of stuff and then try to quantify into experiences
Compromise—keep at it so it gets to its purest form
Defines itself as it goes, challenges
Have to have faith you’ll finish

substantial parallels in the ballet and contemporary realms, just the context is unique and all the change has accelerated over time
Ballet was ballet back in the day, what Martha, Paul and Merce did was like different planets in a solar system, untouchable
A tiny bit of crossover, Glen Tetly going in a trenchcoat to ballet classes
Aesthetic is the context, gravity or contact improv etc. takes about 5 years to become the norm
But it’s all about inspiration, heart, ideas, human spirit
Always shifting—the original people may not get the attention in the beginning
Only way to be honest to spirit of what’s driving you
Always in motion, always discovering
No syllabus can get you there—like RAD Syllabus, 10, 000 kids learn the same thing but only 1 ends up on stage, it’s not the technique that’s important
Someone who’s imagination is burning and they can’t be anywhere else
Every once in a while inspiration happens in art, things crystallize, and to find those moments you just have to keep working

institutional model is going away
Collaboration like holding each other up in Pilobolus partnering “if I mess up I might break your neck”
Not a solar system any more, all together

Question: What are the strengths of the Atlanta dance scene and how can we collaborate better?

Nascent, can go anywhere, but established companies here too
Ready to ignite, own flavor
If you want more dance, just make it

Schroeder: now is a great time, have the top guy (McFall) being open to changes in culture and environment
Next thing we know it’s 30 years, open and interested in making something happen
Back in 1986 when she arrived mostly studio dance, no tier making work
Now have infrastructure, smaller companies, dance programs in colleges, spaces
Multicultural dance too, well positioned
Atlanta Dance Initiative in early 90s helped to blow off the cutthroat attitude, diffused that somewhat
Talking and keeping dialogue going to go further if work together

more we can do to identify available resources
Not limiting by filtering by just dance
Time resource by different to find ways to lift all of it up
Good ideas but all about implementation
Huge opportunity, continue to support
Look at Botanical Garden started in a trailer now doing so much
Communities within Metro Atlanta, find parallel interests out there
Atlanta feels young, discovering itself
We can all have influence to shape what becomes

If you have ideas of how, what you’d like to see happen, please put it on the Facebook page or the blog.

Most collaborations don’t happen because they don’t start
We’ll find a way to continue together.

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