February 21 and February 22, 2020
Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago
1306 S Michigan Avenue
Same Planet Performance Project (SPPP), premieres works by Founder/Artistic Director Joanna Read (JR) and New York choreographer Ivy Baldwin (IB) February 21 and 22 at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago. Picture This Post (PTP) talks with both choreographers about their environmentally charged works for this program.
(PTP) Please tell our readers a little bit about Same Planet Performance Project and how and why it was formed?
(JR) Same Planet Performance Project was founded by Jason Ohlbert in 1997. I was a dancer in the company first, but in 2010 I became the sole Artistic Director. After Jason left, we made it more of a repertory company, hiring local and national dance makers to come make work on us that we wanted to do. In 2007 I went to graduate school and when I came back I started making work and since then it’s been mostly my work on the company, and when we can we bring in artists to set new work to keep that legacy alive of being a repertory company.
Joanna, in BAD BUNNY—your world premiere—you draw inspiration from ideas of consent and boundaries. How do those ideas manifest themselves in the work?
(JR) Presenting a dance work about consent without anything other than the use of the body did prove to be challenging, so the way we entered into the world of consent was through the animal world. We looked at different animals and questioned if they have consent or free will. Some do and some don’t. Obviously, the idea of consent is something that comes up all the time in personal relationships, on Facebook, in tech companies, even on the Ring doorbell. We didn’t want to overwhelm ourselves with all those possibilities, so we put it into this animal world. We aren’t specifically portraying animals, but there is a sense of wildness that emerges from the piece.
What was the creation process like for this work?
(JR) There was a ton going on with the #MeToo movement even before we began our rehearsal process, so I was just increasing my awareness about consent in general, and doing as much research and reading as I could. We played a lot with exercises and explorations in asking permission from each other in different movement scenarios. My process is definitely collaborative with the dancers. I give direction and create a lot of the movement material, but then they deconstruct, manipulate, reconstruct, as well as come up with some of their own material, with my direction.
How would you describe the movement in BAD BUNNY?
(JR) There is a ton of different dynamic qualities in the work. It’s very physical. There are points where there is a line tossed around, with a lot of thrusting and falling through space. But there are also times where it is very internal, spinal, intimate and tender.
Ivy, can you describe the inspiration for Ammonite, your work in the SPPP program?
(IB) I recently had a fellowship in Italy and I went to see this exhibit called Broken Nature. It was not only about what is happening in the natural world with climate change, but also how we relate to the natural world. The one piece that really struck me was Ammonite where this artist had taken ammonites, which are octopus precursors with shells, and then introduced a 3D printed ammonite shell to a baby octopus to see how the octopus interacts with it. This is a stunningly beautiful video. The artist talks a lot of transmitted evolutionary knowledge, and that idea of evolutionary knowledge was one of the jumping off points to the piece.
Can you describe Quarry, your site-specific companion piece for Ammonite and how the two pieces complement each other?
(IB) I just finished this site-specific work in Manitoga, New York.It took place outside on this huge property. I started working with the cast in Chicago, with some of the same ideas movement to make it a companion piece. Ammonite is a continuation of exploring similar ideas and themes. It’s exciting to work on these themes inside a theatre, and with a new cast. I’ve also been working with the same composer, Justin Jones, and he is making a score that is both new music and recontextualized sounds from Quarry.
How would you describe the the movement quality in Ammonite?
(IB) I’ve been thinking about the dancers as their own ecosystems. The movement at times draws from very human interactions, and other times is inspired by the natural world. There’s a lot of breathing and pulsing. It could be perceived as more natural, or like an underlying anxiety that is more human quality.
The concepts in both works are very relevant to what's happening in the world today. Is there anything you want viewers to gain from this?
(JR) If anyone takes anything away— whether it’s a visceral feeling from the movement or the atmosphere that it created— I’m satisfied. I don’t need them to walk away saying, “I understand consent so much more…” because we don’t even understand it. These are all questions that we are trying to solve through movement.
(IB) I have been writing and thinking a lot about the destruction of the natural world, as I think we all are, but my intention was never to make a piece about climate change. I’m not out to shame anyone into recycling, or making a lot of big changes in their life. I think I’m trying to find a way to dig deeper into what is happening on an emotional level for humans. We are dealing, or not dealing, with this looming crisis. I want to make space for people to have these feelings and to be able to connect and recognize these feelings in our relationship to the natural world.