Q&A: DD Dorvillier talks about her Danspace Project Platform series

DD Dorvillier masterminds a four-week Platform based on her work at Danspace Project



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What is a spatial strategy?
There is kaleidoscopic, which is movement that’s happening simultaneously but in different facings—it creates a kaleidoscopic effect like in Dressed for Floating. The rocking fragment on the video features four women, and the main idea is that they’re together, they’re a collective, but each rocking in their own way. They’re all on their hands and knees with their heads under a coat. There’s a little criteria for the walking that they have to stick to about how the spine is involved. But when we learn it in the studio, they count how many times [original cast members] Heather [Kravas] or Ermira [Goro] rocks. On the 230-something rock, Ermira slips her foot out. The new dancers get pretty close to the duration of the video fragment because of that. So something that’s improvised becomes transposed verbatim, and that’s one of the big rules about improvisation. Fragments are improvisational. They’re taking things that are kind of intense. In Handsome Execution of a Flower, I have a solo where I’m almost in a trance, but I’m using the weight of my head to move through space, and it’s very dramatic and I’m going in and out of the floor with a lot of power. Katerina [Andreou]’s learning it verbatim, which is really hard to do, because it’s not coming from the inside for her. It’s a form that she’s duplicating, but by learning the choreography, the steps to take, where to put the head, how to turn it and how to think of the line that the nose makes when you turn your head, that’s changing the inside. It’s really cool. I want to be able to share that—not by being didactic and telling the viewer, “This is what we’re doing,” but by somehow making that apparent in the visit when you come.

Are the fragments in every session different?
Yes. They’re based on a theme that we’ve discussed among ourselves. Some you can really see and others you’re like, Why is that there? [Laughs] One week has a very visceral kind of behavior and another is more mathematical or mechanical. The garden performances of A catalogue of steps are the first- and last-night events. They’re kind of the bookends; they happen one hour before the performance of Diary of an Image, so it’s a crossover between the audience that will never see the work; the audience that is coming; and the accidental audience that may become curious about the work. Thomas Dunn is lighting the church from the outside. Also, I did improvisations outside—it was either me or Boaz Barkan—on Thursday nights at 7pm for about a year in 2000 or 2001. So it’s a wink or a nod at that.

What can you say about Diary of an Image?
It’s a really simple piece. The dance I do is a dance that I’ve been doing my entire life, but I didn’t know it. I’m in it. It was supposed to be a solo, but it didn’t turn out that way. The two main people I’m collaborating with are Katerina and Zeena Parkins; we’ve really made the piece together. Thomas is designing the lights and Olivier [Vadrot] is making sculptures. Basically, I started off wanting to make a piece that was a chronicle of an image being in a moment and also dealing with the image as representation—like the representation of an artist in a world or in a community. How a dance is represented through an image or how a dance becomes an image through its public representation; and then how we use image in a completely other way inside of a dance to make it. Literally internal images that fuel or score a dance or how we produce images through movement in relationship to others or architecture or whatever. How the image in dance is constant and also completely fleeting. And because we were talking about retrospective, I saw how a person is an image. I started to see how that image is very much something that is constructed. I wanted to be in that space of knowing that images are being constructed. It’s almost like we’re creating these images of ourselves so that we know how to get along; it’s related to how you’re constantly situating or re-situating your relationships with others. Your relationship with yourself is based on that architecture, and that’s always changing. I wanted to be IN that formally—in that aspect of shifting. That’s what’s happening in the dance. It’s extremely simple, but sometimes the simplest things are the most complicated. Pretty much all of our gestures in the piece add up to something fragile or almost nothing: vibrating the strings of the piano or translating one sentence—a quote—into Morse code and singing it. It’s kind of bare. It is what it is. It’s a work that morphs a moment somehow.

Can you explain the Morse code part?
Yeah. The piece has a mini–Morse code opera in it. [Laughs] We use Morse code as a way of organizing sound, rhythm and even words. There are two options in Morse code—a dot and a dash. I go from toe to heel. So dot and dash is like heel-toe or toe-heel.

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