Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dissecting the Puzzle/The Impulse Wants Company

Everything is new! From the poetry, to the music, to the dance, to the lighting, to the design, it’s all created in true collaboration together, brand new. The heartbeat of BalletCollective is its process. 

These artists come together like cooks in a restaurant. They come up with the main menu starting with one element. Maybe a particular protein, Kobe beef, is what sets the dish’s course or maybe reindeer moss sets the tone. Like cooking, BalletCollective’s process begins with one element inspiring its actions. 

From Troy: “Artists are each fluent in their own language. The way a choreographer describes movement is alien to the way a composer describes music.  In this case, we are both speaking English, but the same words can have drastically different meanings! The key to true collaboration is finding a common language which all artists involved can understand.  But even better than a common language is the beautifully nuanced language of the poet.”

The current work in progress digests a poem by Cynthia Zarin. Yet the creation of her poetry, at its earliest phase, was inspired by several discussions with her fellow collaborators: choreographer, Troy and composer, Ellis Ludwig-Leone. Working together, these three artists meet (usually at Cynthia’s NYC home after everyone has returned from their day jobs) and gather ideas. They encourage each other to think outside of their individual comfort zones. After 10 hours of conceptual conversations and the decision to use 7 dancers, Cynthia, with Troy and Ellis’s input, created the first puzzle piece to building this new work, the poem. 

Using Cynthia’s poem as a working draft, Ellis and Troy, with Cynthia, dissect her work to establish a working structure of the ballet, its mood arc, the length of the piece, the musical arrangement.  Cynthia took all of this and put it into another draft of the poem.This is the next step in BalletCollective’s puzzle. Once the logistics were in place but open to evolving, Ellis began composing the score. Troy began choreographing to his sketches. But, not alone. As with the creation of the poem, the musical score is created with the input of the collective members and so is the choreography.  With the structure in place, lighting designer Brandon Baker begins to influence the overall look of the piece, and begins discussing the space that the work takes place in.  However far away from each artist’s speciality, Troy, Ellis, Cynthia, and Brandon are challenged to bring their strengths/weaknesses to the table in efforts to push the creation to its ultimate best. 

Their initial conversations began in November; now the music is just about finished, the poem is getting to its final drafts, and little snippets are choreographed. The piece will be 23 minutes long and have a unique structure. Since I’m the insider, I do get privileged knowledge of their collaboration from time to time. I’ve heard a few sections of the music, seen and heard parts of the poem, and watched Troy planning the ballet. Here is a clip of him in the studio, working on a solo for Kaitlyn Gilliland.

BalletCollective will premiere The Impulse Wants Company August 14th and 15th, 2013 at the Joyce Theater. Tickets can be purchased here. Hope to see you there! 

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