Silas Riener

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Pieces. Unless you want to talk about places.
The places that have been significant have been the places that we've returned to. I mean it's been great to go everywhere and go to Hong Kong and go to London, but places that I went with Merce. My first tour was in Paris; we're finishing in Paris. It has agreeable symmetry. The pieces that have felt significant—we don't do a lot of the rep that was in the company when I joined. We've retired a number of pieces since then, and I think that while the revivals we've done since Merce passed away—they don't have his input, sometimes it's a little bit harder for me to get into them in the same way. But the pieces that we still do that I still feel the creative thread from the maker, like Split Sides and BIPED, Nearly Ninety, XOVER. Everyone has a different experience because we're not an ensemble company all dancing together. So doing BIPED for the women is an incredible journey and I like it, but it's not the same. Roaratorio premiered the year I was born and so that's sort of cute. I like my part. I like doing it. I like doing RainForest. I think that Merce would have liked to see this company do it. That piece has been revived many times. It's strange, but I love it.

Who do you dance for now that Merce is not around?
Good question. Well it was easy when Merce was alive and he was watching to feel compelled and feel propelled by that and I think for a certain time that lingered. At this point, I think that the company hasn't changed at all in the last two years, so we dance for each other. I guess the obvious answer is that I do it for myself. There was always an aspect of that—coming up against physical limitations and possibility and seeing if you can do it. I don't know, that's a strange question for me.

I think that in my conversations with people, it's becoming clear that you are dancing for each other in a way as well.
It's just us. There's no one else. There's no one else around. Especially when we're onstage, which at this point is most of the time. This is what we have left. It's great we have so many performances left. That's when it makes the most sense.

When you're onstage?
That's the only time it makes sense to me anymore.

Earlier, we were talking and you spoke about looking down the tunnel of something that never seemed it was going to end. Were you referring to the tedium of the tour? The frustration?
We had been made aware of the Legacy Plan beforehand. We knew the proposed structure of the time. And when Merce died and that plan went into action, there was a moment where the possibility of leaving was real. To not do this very long, very difficult two-year commitment to work that was not new. And for me, once I really got into it the thing that interested me most about the work and the studio and Merce was the prospect of new work. And I had a real question about wanting to be part of a revival company, and I wasn't sure. And what I ended up committing to and deciding was that it was important to do this and that I was going to commit to it, and I'm really glad I did that. I'm glad that I stayed and the tunnel, I think, has been the difficulty of staying consistently committed to the same idea excluding everything else. I haven't really had time to do anything else and I knew that that was going to be the case going in and I've made my peace with that, but it's a dimension of the whole.

It's something I've never thought of.
That this is two years of my young life not doing anything else. That was a hard choice to make.

What made you decide to do it?
It was the right choice. I think it had been maybe a little bit less than two years that I had been in the company and I think it would have been a mistake to cut and run at that point. I was still learning a lot about the work. I was still growing in the technique and there was still a lot that I wanted to do in the work. I don't know. It was my life. And I almost feel like saying I didn't have the right to leave at that point. Everyone was staying. It felt really important that I stayed and it has been.

What are your plans? Do you have plans?
I have a few plans. I'm going to keep dancing. I intend to make work. I intend to stay in New York, at least initially. Rashaun [Mitchell] and I are continuing to make work together in different capacities. I have a show in November that is the beginning of something that will hopefully, possibly, continue next year at the Storefront for Art and Architecture. It's with the Harrison Atelier. They did Anchises with Jonah. I'm collaborating with them. It's three other dancers from Cunningham. One of the things that has been really amazing about this is the prospect of the severance package they've offered us being a platform on which we can build a real transition. And I'm treating at least some of that as kind of a research grant to myself. And I'm going to travel. I'm going to spend about a month in Frankfurt next year taking class with [William Forsythe]. I'm hoping to go to Tel Aviv to take class with Batsheva. I'm hoping to do all of the things I want to because I have the means in a way that I never have before or probably never...

And go to the source, what a gift to yourself. So you have interest in potentially joining one of those companies?
I don't know. That's not my primary interest in either of those trips. I think that those are two of the main places that I think real physical research is being done and I want to be present.

You took Gaga classes in Tel Aviv, right?
I took Gaga with the company, with Ohad. It was fun. And I took class with Forsythe a couple of weeks ago when we were in Berlin. I went up to Frankfurt. I don't pretend to expect job prospects, but I think that those are paths that I would like to walk. And in terms of back in New York, I'm dancing for Rebecca. She has a show next June in Canada. I'm doing that with her. I don't know what else will come along. I'm available. I really wanted to do the Einstein on the Beach tour, which starts January 3rd, and it is completely impossible so I wasn't able to go to an audition for that. But there are going to be things like that. But I don't know if I will dance for another company. I think I may. I'm not a spring chicken anymore, but I'm 27. I'm one of the youngest actually. I'm sort of going to see what happens.

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