Vicky Shick talks about her latest dance, Everything You See

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

Time Out New York: How can you make commotion interesting? Is that your main question?
Vicky Shick:
Yeah. I think just the idea of commotion is interesting to me. [She performs a brief elbow movement phrase at the table.] I feel, Enough already with that. That feels exciting, like I’m forced to give it up and then I feel like, How much can you really change? You can drag a horse to water. I have the water, but I’m not there to sip it up yet. Commotion is a burst of energy and activity, and it can be stimulating. It’s vibrant and I like that. But it’s the struggle of the moment. It’s not that I don’t have things to put in a dance, I just don’t know where to put them or why. And the other thing is that in the past there’s always been a little hint of a narrative, which I like and feel embarrassed by simultaneously. The slightly out-of-kilter world, and I have to give that up too. Which I’m happy to do because I also feel like, Okay, Vic, that’s such a pattern. I guess it has a world. I can’t escape that, but I think I have to give up that hint of narrative. I do think of [my work] like a little short story, but with this you can’t.

Time Out New York: Maybe they’re connected stories.
Vicky Shick:
Maybe. Or it’s those stories that are one line each. I’d love to write the first line of a bunch of stories, but then I wouldn’t know how to follow up, so this maybe is like that. I also wish there could be a million blackouts. It’s also, Where do the dancers go? And I’m not into the mystery of hiding people. That’s why I’m calling it Everything You See. But where do they go that is a reasonable part of the whole picture? Do they go away? Do they sit there? Where does Wendy Perron come from?

Time Out New York: Why did you want to work with the idea of transparency?
Vicky Shick:
I think the thing about it that’s very appealing is the background-foreground [component] and the juxtaposition of one person who could be doing something really small and then seeing commotion behind, but it really is about that one person and one duet. I always wished I could make a dance like a film. 
Time Out New York: Using techniques like close-up? In your dances, you do direct the eye in that way.
Vicky Shick:
It’s funny you say that, because I always wish I could do close-up like in a movie. I am very much into the humanness of the dancer: not even character, but that it’s a real person. That’s what seems enticing to me. That’s what I look for in looking at dance.

Time Out New York: How did you meet Barbara?
Vicky Shick:
On the street. My son was three and her son was four and I was walking on York Avenue to the little day-care nursery, and she was walking her son. I would just see her every day on the street and if we were higher up, I’d know that she was late. I thought she was a dancer just by the way she dressed. I live on the Upper East Side. And then we ran into each other on the playground; I went to her studio, and we said, “Oh, let’s try to do something.” My son is 26 now; it was a long time ago. [Laughs] It’s like planning a wedding. She gets very involved, and in a way it’s so comforting to have another person.
Time Out New York: You reunited with the Trisha Brown Dance Company to perform Homemade at the Brooklyn Academy of Music earlier this year. What was that experience like?
Vicky Shick:
When I got the call, I thought, You gotta be kidding. I couldn’t believe it. It was everything. It was moving personally. It was really challenging to do, but it felt like such an honor and a thrill to get to do that. Also knowing where Trisha’s at…it was a nice experience, but it was a difficult experience physically because that harness—you have to practice with it. [In the 1966 solo, the dancer wears a projector on her back and dances with a film of herself doing the same dance.] It weighs 15 pounds, and they wouldn’t let it out of sight of the office. They said, “If you want to work with it, you could come to the office.” I thought, Great. So it was hard to get it; when I was working, people would leave, and I would do that dance by myself a million times. I would load up my backpack with stuff and do it, but that made it easier, because that [actual harness] is hard; it wouldn’t bend with the body. I had to make the film, but then they told me the harness that I had for the film was not what [it would be in performance]—I had a projector, but they needed to use a digital [recording]. So I had the projector, which was a fake, and under it I was carrying a computer. That made a difference too. There’s a moment very early on when I have to lift my leg, and I remember falling sideways. [Laughs] I always had to ask, “I need at least ten minutes of harness time.” I had to beg to get harness time every night. And I had two men put it on me. I don’t know why, but it was this big deal. I had to find these two guys and arrange it. That was in the schedule: “Vicky’s harness time.” That part was nerve-racking. And you’re supposed to be in unison with the film, and I had no idea what was going on behind me. If you lose your balance, which I did, you lose time. It’s so exacting. But it was a hoot and a thrill to get to do it.
Vicky Shick is at Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery Apr 18–20.

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