On Monday, March 5, Joyce SoHo Program Manager Cathy Eilers chatted with Stefanie Nelson (choreographer), Karolien Soete (stop motion animator), and Alexander Berne (composer) about Prolegomena II performances at Joyce SoHo this weekend. Below are some miscellaneous facts about the performances:
The work was created based on responses gathered from the public (via the web) and performers to this question: What happens when you are in a small space, in absolute darkness, no sounds, or sensory references? What do you bring in this space with you? What comes to you? The choreographic material was created through a series of improvisations based on collected responses to these questions and developed according to the characterization of the dancers within the piece based on themes of isolation and elevation. Most of the choreography in the final piece is set with some improvised moments.
“Prolegomena” means an introduction or a preliminary discussion.
This work was originally envisioned as an installation (a life-sized camera obscura) that the creative team still hopes will be realized. Finding a space to do this has proven challenging. Ideally, they would build a live size camera obscura (a big box with a hole in it, like a camera) so that you’d be able to watch images of what is outside inside in and vice versa, offering two entry points into the work, from the inside out and the outside in. This performance will instead be an iteration of the idea, the outside in version.
This team has been working together for nearly two years and has had, like many creative teams, many ideas that never made it into the work. This is not surprising to the interviewer since they’re all speaking on top of one another during our interview!
About the music… Ben Carey, an artist in Australia, has worked on a system called “_derivations” that Alex will attempt to use to play the music live – for the first time – with about 12 different instruments. Apparently, listening to the music doesn’t make sense because you can’t figure out how it is happening – it is acoustic. There are additional violin compositions played live by Regina Sadowski in the show and pre-recorded music by Alex. (Alex has a band called Alexander Berne & the Abandoned Orchestra.)
Portraitist/painter Karolien has created mural-sized stop-motion animation also based directly on the collected responses to the question of being enclosed in a dark space. At the start of each performance, during the 30 minute pre-show, Karolien paints a mural to which Alex will score live. The stop motion appears at the end and helps the audience see the team’s concept fully realized.
Performances of Prolegomena II are dedicated to Jaik Miller, a friend and colleague of the creation team. Jaik sadly passed away on February 24. Vocal tracks of his poetry are featured in the performance in which he was expected to perform live.
Next steps? Find a way to realize the original idea of the installation. If you happen to know of a space, do tell…!
Click here to read an interview with Stefanie Nelson and The Dance Enthusiast!
An encounter with Karolien Soete