Moriah Evans choreographs Another Performance at Danspace Project.
Moriah Evans talks about Another Performance, a collaboration with visual artist Alan Calpe at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church
Sun Feb 17 2013
Time Out New York: How do you deal with that choreographically?
Moriah Evans: There’s some kind of critical edge because they get put into these shapes, right? At this point in the dance, there’s a moment when they’re not reduced into these shapes, but the kind of work to do this has been interesting and hard. For me choreographically, how do I engage with all these signs and then get out from underneath them? Is my dance only in reference? The issue of the individual comes up for me again here too because I think there’s this overemphasis on the vision of the individual in our society—of pivotal figures, of the individual innovator and the triumphant position of that. A lot of dance and choreography is so similar. We’re talking about steps, we’re talking about kicks, we’re talking about some level of the universal kinesthetic capacity. What are the elements that are part of this? Of course, with ballet we have this very clearly. With Cunningham, we can also have this. But what are these relationships, formally and physically, between a lineage like Duncan, Graham, Brown and Childs? Turns, skips, kicks, walks. When a body is pure energy, when a body is floating like in Isadora or even in Trisha. The relationship between Duncan and release [technique]—and Trisha would never call herself release, but the skeletal and sensitive accessing of the anatomical essence of my individual body moving through space in X, Y and Z ways.
Time Out New York: So you’re looking at these iconic figures in relationship to each other.
Moriah Evans: Yes, with completely different gestures or moments in time, but there is some kind of similarity there. Then I’m trying to figure that out formally or physically. Graham and Lucinda Childs, I feel like they’re both doing a lot of basic shape-form actions in a sense. Graham is completely different because you have this ecstasy and contraction and release and the power of the modernist, adamant body, and Lucinda’s body is much more out of Judson, but there’s still an insistence on this one way with completely different tones. We’ll see what happens. It’s a lot to take on.
Time Out New York: Is it longer than it was at DraftWork?
Moriah Evans: Yeah. It’s going to be an hour or more.
Time Out New York: So you’re expanding it and extending it. You haven’t had that much time, have you?
Moriah Evans: No. I’ve had three or four months. I’m scared. My peers, I feel like they work on their evening-length shows for a year. But it’s an opportunity to work and you learn so much. If I spend two years of my life trying to find original movement research vocabulary like I did in Switzerland, it’s also interesting to say: Okay, I’m not trying to find original movements. I’m taking codified movements and looking at them in another performance, so there’s a relationship between the mundane and the spectacular that happens in the piece that is very purposeful and is related to a collision of Judson ideas and principles with these other aesthetics that are more magical and transformative and full of a believe system that is certainly not the everyday.
Time Out New York: And you’re not hiding from theater.
Moriah Evans: It’s also a critical look at the production of theater, so in the dance you have the setting up of a performance, then you have a dance, then you have a theatricalized dance, then you have the production of a spectacle or the star and Maggie’s solo that is overemphasized as a virtuosic moment. It’s sort of undone in a deconstruction phase and then the piece returns to its beginning state. That’s the basic structure. [Laughs]
Time Out New York: Why did you want to direct someone else?
Moriah Evans: I wanted to work with someone who was accessible to being directed. I met Maggie doing Sarah Michelson’s piece. I also felt I could help Maggie with certain things. I feel like I’ve really tried to work on bringing her out of her shell somehow or bringing HER into the room and giving her power. She has a lot of power in this dance. She wears an incredibly loud costume, and she’s an insistent body that is clear and powerful, but also very vulnerable in many ways. She moves through all these different states of self and being with energetic physicality that are related to the references on some level. Everything in the dance is my choreography. There are some gestures toward reference, but it’s again all about the pivot and the researching of space and self and a display of energy. I wanted to be out of the work, too. You can work so much faster when you’re not in work. It’s a whole other thing. It just came from a genuine internal place. The weird thing about this performance is that it just came.
Time Out New York: It hit you.
Moriah Evans: Yeah. I didn’t have this big agenda ahead of time: I’m going to make this piece and it’s going to do X, Y and Z and this is what it’s about. I really feel like it’s coming out of previous things in my practice and it’s in dialogue with those things. I’m trying to figure out the right tone for the piece. I’m trying to figure out how the performers can best perform it for themselves. They were all somewhat typecast. Tess Dworman was Isadora Duncan. I asked her to be in the piece because of her movement quality; she has this very ethereal, floaty manner and she can throw movement away in a very beautiful way, but she doesn’t necessarily dance like Lucinda Childs. Maggie was Lucinda Childs and Ondrej Vidlar was doing Trisha Brown, and I was doing Martha Graham, but I ended up replacing myself with Sarah Percival because I needed time out of the piece. In a way, they’re typecast and it’s been interesting to see how they negotiate their own tendencies in relationship to these other styles, which they may or may not feel the most comfortable inside of. Now they all do each other’s things. I’m dealing with the ending. Where are the performers? What’s their relationship to the audience? What is their relationship to each other? What is our relationship to dance history in this dance? What am I saying with history and that I’m still trying to figure out. What is choreography? What is a dance? Who is the choreographer? Who is the dancer? I thought it would be really funny to put my name down as the understudy as a joke about the power relationships in dance. I did some Trisha Brown workshops and I loved the movement, but there’s something that when you learn something what was once innovative just becomes the new orthodoxy. And in that process, something is definitely lost. Do I stage that struggle between spirit and the absence of it?
Time Out New York: I love that tension.
Moriah Evans: The whole piece is inside of a system and all the things inside of the piece have two iterations of themselves. And it all happens in a relationship to space and the idea of pivotal figures or moments. There’s a belief in dance, which is very earnest and sincere, but there’s also a critical look at the form, too. Something I talked to Alan a lot about was how do we reduce these styles to a shape? Isadora is a circle; Graham is a triangle; Lucinda’s a cone; and Trisha is a diamond. I’m not saying these are perfect reductions, they’re just one offering. [Laughs] One thing I’m happy about is that I don’t I’ve seen this dance before even though we’ve all seen this dance before.
Moriah Evans is at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery February 21–23, 2013.