Megan Sprenger talks about her new dance Flutter

Megan Sprenger talks about her new dance Flutter, a delicate quartet at the Chocolate Factory



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Time Out New York: What about Donna Cicchesi?
Megan Sprenger:
Wispy is the first word that comes to mind, but she also adopted a lot of Kendra Portier’s movement. Kendra had to leave because [David] Dorfman life was Dorfman life. The reason Donna got that role is because she’s basically a mini-Kendra. It’s amazing to see how related they are physically; the movement quality is quick and luscious. She has this way to be really direct and also to be really big and open. She’s got this amazing open-leg situation that is beautiful, and she presents herself as the most vulnerable. And then there’s Michael Ingle, the lone male of the dance. The piece was originally going to be a quintet, because I didn’t want four dancers. That presents all sorts of relationship problems, because you get two and twos all the time. It just worked out this way. Michael is an old soul, just really calm, smooth and big. He’s a really expansive mover, and then all of a sudden, he’ll do something small and really specific. It reminds me of him in 40 years. You can just picture him. He and Anna balance each other; he doesn’t have the same kind of immediacy that Anna does, but he’s just as clear.

Time Out New York: Could you elaborate more on your idea about layering?
Megan Sprenger:
There are frequently two stories being told at once. Sometimes there are moments when the two things don’t necessarily hold tension, but something is being driven by a movement vocabulary and something that’s more abstract, or something that’s driven by intent and story and how those two things relate or don’t. It’s about how they then build environment in the room. We played, actually, at completely de-layering it and looking at each element to give each equal resonance. I thought that might create more tension between these things that felt like story—that’s a man and a woman in love, which it isn’t but that’s what people see—next to something that is just a big movement phrase. But when we separated them, they both lost power. When you put them together, they’re able to feed off each other. I was so worried that it was going to be really sappy, that people would think it was all about love. It’s not what’s driving it for me; it’s really something simpler than that and less dramatic. By layering them, it heightens both of their other. So much happens in this work, but it isn’t that long. This is not a hit-you-over-the-head work.

Time Out New York: What kind of work is it?
Megan Sprenger:
It’s much more about an undercurrent. I’m hoping people don’t even realize that they’ve been that pulled in. It’s about these four individuals; slowly, you begin to see them through space, and these relationships emerge and by the end, you feel like you’ve seen little events happening here and there. [Lighting designer] Joe Levasseur was saying that it felt episodic to him; he described it as “delicate romanticism.” I love that. [Laughs] But it’s also abstract. One of the things about this piece is it’s the only thing that’s been constant in my life for three years. That is beautiful and odd. I’m a different person now. I don’t work at the same place, I don’t live in the same place. It was what led to how I decided to create movement and wanting that movement to be from the inside. From it being driven from a place of need for connection. Without it being angsty. Eccck. [Laughs] There’s been enough of that.

Time Out New York:  Why did you call it Flutter?
Megan Sprenger: It’s a little naughty, which is what drew me to it. You put that little movement somewhere specific…

Time Out New York: And it’s suddenly a dildo?
Megan Sprenger:
It’s a dildo! [Laughs] It’s not explicit, and the work isn’t explicit. We’re dealing with vulnerability, but we’re not dealing with nakedness. It just gets to that place where you’re excited or nervous or perhaps falling in love. It has so many emotional connotations that are good and bad. It doesn’t make me think of butterflies at all; it really is just about that little bit of energy, little bit of naughtiness that was the right frame.

Time Out New York:  When did you start dancing?
Megan Sprenger:
I started dancing when I was three. I was born in Minnesota and moved to Pennsylvania. My original dance training was with Brandywine Ballet; we moved to Princeton when I was 16, and Princeton Ballet became my second home. Then I went to Purchase. I went to Purchase as a ballet dancer, but I majored in composition. I always knew I wouldn’t be a professional dancer. I didn’t want a ballet life at 18; I was like, All right, you’ll probably end up making work—and my work was always more contemporary. I didn’t do a lot of ballet composition. As a person, I loved looking and organizing and creating; it’s just who I am. Give me a stack of things, and I will make it beautiful. I took every comp class I was able to at Purchase. Kazuko Hirabayashi and Neil Greenberg had very different styles.

Time Out New York: What did you glean from each of them?  
Megan Sprenger:
Kazuko’s so formal: You learn structure, theme and variation, rondo, fugue. I took ballet comp with her, too. Same principals, but different because the vocabulary was so important in ballet composition—how you worked with phrase vocabulary. In modern composition, it was less important; it was more concept-oriented. She taught me form and function, and Neil really helped me figure out what I was interested in saying and how I wanted to say it and how people viewed work. I don’t understand how anyone could only have studied with one. They provided completely different things. You still got feedback, so you still understood what people saw, but the way feedback was given in different classes was very different. To this day, Neil is someone that I look up to. He’s so generous and open and willing to tell you what he thinks, but without directing you. It makes you ask yourself what you’re looking for. So even though he’s not part of my daily life, he is consistently helping me figure it out. 
Megan V. Sprenger/MVworks is at the Chocolate Factory Sept 18–21.

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