Summer heat keeping you glued in front of the fan? Get up and get out to Six and Four Articulations, a physical, visual and intellectual dance performance presented by the touring group of the same name at 8 p.m. tomorrow, at Work|Space.
In advance of the show, we caught up with dancer, choreographer and tour-enabler Emily Smith for some insight into the creative process...and performing in this heat.
Westword: You describe your work as "post" post-modern. What does that entail?
Emily Smith: Post-modern would imply exploration of the material and going into the process. We've kind of taken it beyond that where we use those ideas into the realm of contemporary work. We use those processes but we also think about the aesthetic of the piece and what goes into it as well as the overall process. There's equal an amount of consideration in the process and choreography s well as the final product. It's both product and process oriented. What is your process like to create a piece?
Since we're a performance collective, we have a lot of different answers for each of us. We all share different backgrounds: We have a theater major and most of the rest of us are visual artists. For me personally, I start my work with some kind of image, a visual base, that I treat as a sculpture in the space. Then I make that a kinetic structure through props and fabric and dancers to create the overall product. Some of us are more literary-driven through texts, words, word play and redefining terms and looking at things. One of the pieces is about standardization and communication, so it's a play on language in the piece. They are all music-based, but the whole project is kind of like a research project in which we're bringing all these different backgrounds together. Another one of us is interested in more movement-based work, externalizing emotional and internal experience through movement and relationships between the dancers.
What is your biggest goal throughout your work?
I think the goal is finding that place between all the disciplines. It's really hard to categorize work, which is interesting. It's really about finding a place in performance in which we're using theater over dance practices, etc. Our larger goal is to do the work and be able to create art and share it with our audience and have that larger dialogue with our audience to expand their experience in a way they haven't done before. It enables us to reach a broader scope of people. That's what's rewarding -- in the end, sharing this larger dialogue. Why did you decide to tour the country?
We've created work together before and we've performed it for the same people. We've been getting good feedback -- but the same feedback. Us going on tour is taking a risk but we wanted to be inspired by new voices in new places. We're also creating impromptu, place-specific work and documenting that. It may appear in our lineup or just as a documentation we can edit later as a video piece. Every place we go has enhanced and redefined our work just by putting it in a different place, visually and aesthetically. We've done the piece outside, we've done it in a bathhouse in a sculpture garden and we've done it for different audiences. We've had very different reactions depending on where we are.
What do you see for the future of your group?
I think we have different plans but this is kind of like a project that we're all participating in. Afterwords I know some of us plan on going on to performance, but maybe not with the same people. My sister (Laura Smith) initiated this project and I tried to enable it and everyone else has since jumped in and made it a reality that is more ambitious than we planned. We want to split on the road and get different experiences -- her as a visual artist and me as a dancer -- and maybe create a warehouse where we can come together and create a dance community.
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