DanceWorks’ upcoming CoWorks presentation Possibilities of Dialogue explores the parallels between making dance and having a conversation. Created by Marielis Garcia, a native New Yorker and director of MG DanceArts, and David Norsworthy, a Toronto-based dance artist who works internationally as a performer, choreographer and educator, the world premiere work opens in April. Here, we talk to Marielis and David to learn more about their collaboration and creative process.
DANCEWORKS: Can you tell us about the title of your work Possibilities of Dialogue? What does it refer to?
MARIELIS & DAVID: This project was conceived through investigating the questions: What makes our work matter? and What makes our work truly relevant to audiences? As we contemplated these questions we became interested in the idea of “performing with” each other and the audience (instead of “performing at” or “performing for”) and began working with balancing listening and patience with spontaneity and action. Our intent with this piece is to be in dialogue with each other as co-creators, but also to connect with the audience, invite them in on the creative process, and be open to the various responses that might arise.
DANCEWORKS: How did you begin working together?
MARIELIS & DAVID: In 2014 we both performed with the same dance company in New York City. As our friendship developed we noticed we were interested in exploring similar conceptual ideas when making choreography. Specifically, we found mutual fascination with real-time problem solving and the idea of transparency (minimizing the artifice and preciousness of performance by acknowledging everything on stage— even failure). We presented our first work together, supported by an organization called Inception to Exhibition in the fall of 2016, which was a performative experiment. The piece was titled what is? and dealt with found objects and audience suggestions.
DANCEWORKS: Possibilities of Dialogue includes the use of a prop – painter’s tape. Why did you decide to use this prop?
MARIELIS & DAVID: In May 2017 we had a residency in Carbondale, Colorado at Dance Initiative where we led a few community workshops. In one of the activities we decided to use colorful painter’s tape as a material that could be manipulated by our attendees through movement-based tasks, but also implied a sense of work, construction, development and change. The idea of creating a “playground” with the tape surfaced; a 3D landscape of intersecting lines that we could explore. Intrigued by how these workshops sparked a creative exchange that was performative and yet unpretentiously organic, we set out to design choreographic scores that could be empowering and participatory for an audience. As our process continued, the tape became a central element of our work together and began to hold several meanings.
DANCEWORKS: Can you share some details about the rehearsal process? Did it involve alot of experimentation?
MARIELIS & DAVID: Yes, so much experimentation! Possibilities of Dialogue has developed through a process of trial and error. Because the work is dependent on having an audience in the room, most of our rehearsal periods included work-in-progress showings with a test audience. These performances made it clear (and quickly) what would work and what wouldn’t. This piece forces us as performers/creators to be willing to fail in front of an audience as the price for learning and progress. Looking back, it is hilarious to think about all of the ideas we imagined might work— but when people were in the room with us, the ideas were either too complicated or cliché.
DANCEWORKS: Will the audience be involved in the theatre performance in any way?
MARIELIS & DAVID: Yes, just like any conversation or dialogue, even when you’re not actively contributing you are listening and thinking, this piece asks for a similar responsiveness from the audience. Additionally, there will be some specific invitations for interaction. Audience members will always have the option to merely observe if they do not feel comfortable/delighted/compelled to participate.
DANCEWORKS: Thank you Marielis and David.