Portfolio & Commission Season

 Frequently I hear individuals who head art organizations ask, ‘What can I do to help the field?’ I have to say that I think the answer is pretty rather ruddy obvious:

Create opportunities for those in the field to show work and nurture thoughtful voices.

As a producer with a number of resources at his disposal, I am lucky enough to facilitate my own creative process and to create my own opportunities without having to wait for others. I am also a choreographer, or one who creates messages through arranged steps. And I am also a performer, though sometimes all I want to do is arrange new steps. It was Spring of 214 and having just returned from serving as the Guest Artist at Sangre de Cristo Art Center, I did not feel compelled to step back onto stage as a performer, nor did I feel the need to set a new ballet for performance. Instead, I gave myself permission to create for the sake of creating.

To step into the studio and choreograph to heart’s contentment, preferably with dancers I’d not yet had the opportunity to meet. If the work that I create ends up being performed before a live audience… Awesome. If not, that is awesome as well. This is how I came to work with ballerina, Megan Dickinson, modern dancer, Aya Kaneko, and contemporary dancer, Cameron McKinney. All insanely talented.

The freedom to explore movement without the pressure of getting a piece done was invaluable for me so… I decided to offer the same opportunity to a group of choreographers whose work I enjoyed producing. These choreographers were Yoshito Sakuraba, Artistic Director of Abarukas and Sandra Kramerova, Artistic Director of Sandra Kramerova & Artists.

I paid these two brilliant artists a nice stipend for their work with the command that they create whatever they wanted. I offered them 10-12 hours of free rehearsal space, I paid for their audition to find a dancer with whom they had never before worked, I paid the dancers of their choice $140 for the work (it was a solo piece and each choreographer selected a different dancer for their own work), and I paid to have the dances filmed. The point of this exercise was to create a new piece and… neither Mr. Sakuraba nor Ms. Kramerova disappointed. In fact they delighted. I was worried that they would use this to continue working on their current projects instead of as a way of developing the other artistic voices in their heads that were not being allowed to come forward. The resulting work is singularly disparate and in a new vision for these artists. I am excited to see if these pieces will continue to develop in the future.

As a form of additional artistic enrichment I conducted an open rehearsal in which over 20 talented dancers who submitted  to participate were invited to work with Ms. Kramerova, Mr. Sakuraba, and me in a 3 hour master class. The idea was that they would get to experience our method of working, hear about our process, and try their hand at working on some of our choreography. ‘The Open Rehearsal’, I am pleased to say, was a smashing success and an incredible delight to say the least.

Finally, as a treat, I commissioned Ms. Kramerova to create a new piece with two dancers who attended the Open Rehearsal, I created a poetic piece with the same two dancers, and I finally recorded a dance that I choreographed on the lovely dancer, Colleen Hoelscher as a her swan song to dance. Spring/Summer 2014 was incredibly productive. I didn’t perform once… but maybe I didn’t need to.