Megan Sprenger talks about her new dance Flutter
Megan Sprenger talks about her new dance Flutter, a delicate quartet at the Chocolate Factory
Thu Sep 5 2013
Time Out New York: What did you end up with?
Megan Sprenger: I ended up with hours of footage from each performer that I then culled down to three-to-five-minute solos, so really interesting, vastly different movement vocabularies appear for each of them over time. Some dancers have come and gone, because the process has been so long, but I have all of this footage, and some have stayed, like Tara O’Con, who’s danced with me forever. She always felt her movement wasn’t telling enough of her story. We did the whole process again, because I had some new dancers, and if you’re to look at Tara’s new solo next to her old solo, you wouldn’t know that they’re vastly different. It’s Tara: Here’s this arm thing that she does and this little back, curly thing. It’s just the movement that comes out of that woman’s body, and when she saw it again, she was slightly disappointed and slightly pleased, like, That’s me. Michael Ingle, who also went through both phases, was similar too. He has a broader range of vocabulary that he works with on a daily basis, and Tara is really interested in that intricate, small-detailed movement. You can see a little bit of a difference, but still the tone and the depth of what they’re playing with is similar. As an anthropological study, it’s interesting.
Time Out New York: You wanted to place them in the center.
Megan Sprenger: Yes. This will not be apparent to the audience in any way. It’s not even necessarily going to feel that personal, but it was a way for them to start moving in an autobiographical sense. Otherwise, they get up and dance, and you see beautiful dancing, but there’s so much more that emerged that way—there’s so much more presence. I really wanted that.
Time Out New York: That’s what I always felt your work needed. It was so controlled and contained, but I wanted to see something else inside of it.
Megan Sprenger: And I may not have succeeded. We’re actually debating right now how important the audience is; the dancers are trying to connect with each other and with the audience, but when you divide the attention, it’s tricky; when you’re only in, it’s not as powerful and when you’re only out it’s too much. It’s about finding a little bit of this really subtle play. This piece is not voyeurism. If there is a connection, I want it to immediately go away; it’s not a task. It’s not something that has to happen. I say, “If you end up looking, you have to let them go. Just look away.” So that they know that you know, but then you’re gone. This isn’t about making that happen; that’s when I think audience members get really uncomfortable—that prolonged, “We’re going to share this moment forever…” No, but we’re not because I’m not enjoying it. [Laughs] This is about individuality and compassion, and just the concepts themselves are really different from the previous works. It’s really looking at the desire I had to connect to others, and the hope that you’ll be understood, but you just don’t know. Interpersonal communication is, for me, an abstract art form. [Laughs] Sometimes I have a really hard time with that. It is my job, but that’s a whole other thing.
Time Out New York: I’ve never had that problem with you. It’s probably because we’re similar—we don’t need too much tender time.
Megan Sprenger: [Laughs] Not verbally, at least. You can hold my hand.
Time Out New York: Exactly. How does the set play into that?
Megan Sprenger: For us, it was about function. The dance does a ton of this. [She gestures a back-and-forth motion.] We wanted the space to be able to help embrace the work and also to add depth and length. I wanted it to be soft and variant and for it to be able to change tone as well. One of the very first ideas was projection and in that space; projectors just make a lot of noise, and this was a way for us to transform the space without a lot of razzle-dazzle. I had people into rehearsal yesterday and somebody was saying. “There’s a lot of environment: You have these stormy things happen and then you have these calm things happen.” I think the set can help guide people through that, because there’s a lot of layering; because of the depth, that will also help accent where the eye needs to look. I want the movement to do that some, and I also want the viewer to be able to have some choice.
Time Out New York: Would you describe the tone of each dancer?
Megan Sprenger: Oh! I’d like to try. I’ll start with Anna [Adams Stark], because she is the most bold. She’s the most brave of them all; she takes the most risk in her movement. Tara is quiet and intricate, but Anna’s quiet is really open and clear and welcoming when she’s not, like, back off. She has that dimension. If they’re Chinese gods, she’s the bull; she’s strong and clear and able to be a partner. Tara is really quiet and intricate and detail-oriented. Those little fingers of hers always come to mind; she’s internal in a way that leads her out. Where Anna is out before she’s in, Tara is in before she’s out. Her ability to really tap into what she’s working on in her life and bring it to the stage and present it through just a very simple way—there’s a moment where she’s getting ready to take a step, and she hasn’t yet done it and you see her with her arms crossed, you just see her working on it, and it’s really fascinating.