Vicky Shick talks about her latest dance, Everything You See

Vicky Shick talks about choreographing two dances in one for Everything You See

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Vicky Shick

Vicky Shick Photograph: Barbara Kilpatrick


Vicky Shick talks about her newest dance, Everything You See, which is at Danspace Project Apr 18–20. In it, she collaborates with visual artist Barbara Kilpatrick to create a dance with two fronts—the middle of the stage is divided by a semi-transparent fiberglass mesh screen. The large cast of dancers includes Jon Kinzel, Wendy Perron, Heather Olson and, of course, Vicky Shick, who was a revered member of the Trisha Brown Dance Company.

Vicky Shick is stressed out—her newest piece, Everything You See, is about to be seen by everyone—but she cheers herself up with a thought: “I feel lucky to have that stress, as opposed to being in real estate or something.” Shick, a revered dancer whose works delve into the intimacy of everyday gestures with delicate, microscopic depth, is trying something different for her fifth Danspace Project presentation, which premieres April 18. A fiberglass mesh screen, designed by Barbara Kilpatrick, divides the stage in two; the audience will be split as well. Depending on what side of the screen you’re sitting on, you’ll see a different dance. The large cast includes Jon Kinzel, Heather Olson and Wendy Perron, and the size is causing some commotion. Even though it goes against her nature, Shick is trying to embrace chaos. Changing things up is the point, as she told herself early on: “Free it up, Vic. You’re 61 years old.”

Time Out New York: How did this piece begin?
Vicky Shick:
Barbara and I had this idea of trying to do something more challenging. It’s not a new idea: There are two fronts, so it’s wide and shallow. The audience doesn’t move. That would be terrible. But I thought, Oh, it’s two dances; I need a lot of people. Now, months later, I realize it’s too many people and I can never get them [to rehearsal]. I do love structure and clarity too much. And there’s no way. I always try to find some kind of little logic or something, but it’s just going to be chaotic. People aren’t there at the same time. Literally, never. If I can get four out of ten… Anyway, it’s hard, but that’s what it is. The curtain is kind of transparent, so you can see what’s happening on the other side. 

Time Out New York: Neat.
Vicky Shick:
It’s a nice idea for somebody with a more expansive vision. Where I’m rehearsing, it’s not big enough to see. I am excited by the chaos. And chaos in the positive sense. Commotion. That’s what it is. I do have, sadly, a million duets and trios and solos, and I’m thinking maybe if those have their order and their logical progression, that’ll help. I love working one-on-one. [Pauses] The stage is so wide. I’ve lost sight of everything. Do you need more than a duet because it’s so wide? 

Time Out New York: Not necessarily. I love how empty space frames a small duet.
Vicky Shick:
I do too, but I get nervous. Not that I want to entertain people…[Thoughtfully] because I don’t know how. But you want to engage the audience, and that might be old-fashioned or something, but I am old-fashioned. I also think it’s just a personality thing. At home, I can’t settle down if things are all over the place. And then I think maybe I’m just a control freak, but I like to have order. I can think better. So I feel like I’m looking at a dance and someone’s doing this, and I can see the other side and I just want to scream.

Time Out New York: Are you literally choreographing two dances?
Vicky Shick:
It is two dances. But I work with people who are in rehearsal, so more than having two dances, I have all these duets, trios and solos. So it’s not like I composed one side into what I feel is a dance. I literally have 45 little things. It could be short, but still it exists. Of course, I have to get rid of stuff, and I can’t tell if it’s going to be 20 minutes or five hours. [Laughs] It won’t be.

Time Out New York: Do you have time in the theater?
Vicky Shick:
Very little. I have one day where I’m going to manage having the set and hopefully everybody, and I think that’ll be the day. Wendy Perron’s [the editor of Dance Magazine] in it.

Time Out New York: Right! When can she go to rehearsal?
Vicky Shick:
She can’t. [Laughs] I know. She said, “I’d love to be in it,” and I was like, “Okay, cool. Why not?” So we work on Saturdays. I think, Oh, Wendy will come in and do her little gesture dance. I write down, “Wendy will do the gesture dance, and Jon Kinzel will do this,” and it’s kind of okay on paper and then you look at it and it’s like, How does Wendy come on [the stage]? And then I thought, Poor Carol Mullins. Her problem is the closest to mine. She has to light two dances. I wonder if that really hit her. That’s challenging. Plus because of the way we’re sitting, she can’t use the lights in the balcony because those lights will hit [the audience’s] eyes. It’s going to be dark. Maybe that’s good.

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1 comments
Kathy Bekman
Kathy Bekman

I loved the article about my sister, Vicky Shick. She is a great talent, innovative and dedicated to her art and I am so very proud of her. She has been dancing since she was 5 years old and has always been a most talented performer. She creates her pieces based on life experiences and the emotions that go with it. Her movements, her expressions and her choreography is unique and for me the very best.