The Dancer Perspective: Twelve Chairs: Part 2

May 8th, 2012

Written by: Brandon Cournay

Orbit. Fall on 6. Heaven. Knee down. Chaos. Wave.


Say any of these words around a KEIGWIN + COMPANY dancer this week, and we will jump right into action. We are in the heart of our creation process for Twelve Chairs and as new sections are added, Larry Keigwin grants them with an eternal name. Gary Schaufeld, Justin Dominic, Kit McDaniel, and I begin our round table conversation smiling about rehearsal yesterday. Inspired by a spontaneous outburst of Aaron Copeland music that came on iTunes shuffle during our warm up, our latest section is now called, Rodeo.

In the studio, we have shifted focus into developing more daring and physical creative material. We have explored elements of partnering, manipulating, and shifting our chairs with dynamics and impulsiveness. Gary references the progression of our creative assignments given by Larry, “I think we explored all of the possibilities we could do with the chair. So now, you can really go back and pick apart the information you found. As this piece has evolved we started getting more specific tasks. We did a phrase where our leg couldn’t leave the chair.”

Justin notes that during the past two weeks, “Our tasks have been to get up off the chair more. The movement has gotten to a very physical place. It’s a whole new level of game play, it’s making us sweat!”

Inspiration is flowing from everywhere. We reference everything from pedestrian movement to striking dance phrases. Kit says, “I find when I’m outside of rehearsal, sitting in chairs, or even on the subway, I am constantly thinking of new ways to sit.”

As a dancer, it is always so invigorating to dance to original music. Twelve Chairs is set to a brand new score by electronic composer, Jonathan Pratt. Justin refers to the music as “unpredictable.” The score is dazzling, it fuses together the sounds of a drum line and brass band with a luscious, cyclical midsection that never loses its constant energetic rhythm and beat.

Gary describes the music as being a soundscape for the piece, “We explored the movement independent from the music and Larry is now finding places to link it up and dive into certain pools of ideas with the score.”

Looking ahead, we are eager to complete and put the finishing touches on Twelve Chairs. “We are now able to develop our intention behind the work. You can now think about your mood and personality,” Kit said.

This has been such a stimulating creative process for the company. We are constantly putting our heads together, to understand our new enhanced movement with the chair.  Justin said, “With the 12 chairs, each of us has gone to a different part of the space in the chair, we’ve moved it around, put it in different places, stepped on it. So, this chair kind of has it’s own little history that is building with us. “

To conclude, I again asked the dancers to describe the creative process in one word.

“Exploratory.” – Gary   “Giddy.” –Kit   “Jigsaw” –Justin

Twelve Chairs will be making its world premiere during KEIGWIN + COMPANY’s season at The Joyce Theater, June 12th- 17th, 2012

Click here purchase tickets today.

photos by Whitney Browne

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