Choreographed + Directed by Hilary Easton
Original Music by Mike Rugnetta
NY Premiere: Danspace Project, November 13-15, 2014
From the choreographer (to be read once you've seen the dance!):
I Am With You expands upon ideas that have absorbed me in recent years. As both an artist and a person my relationships to those around me are changing. I find myself watching proudly as many in my community and family grow up (and away), but also seeing and experiencing diminishment and age. It is in turns heartening and heart-breaking.
Aesthically, the piece continues my interest in diminishing the feeling of presentation or artifice that one sees in performance. There’s a phrase I use a lot, to myself and with my dancers: “be the thing”. I want my dances to be like they are in rehearsal, where real people do real things and the "work" of the dancing is a form of the way we function in all other aspects of our lives. So, I strive to create situations where this can, or must, happen. Light and Shade (2011) establishes a personal, intimate setting between two people. The Constructors (2012) develops movement that requires the dancers to be hyper-aware of each other, intensely concentrating to grapple with the dances' many complications. Often they need to work with each other when they either cannot see each other or are dependent upon everyone else’s exacting timing in order to accomplish the actions of the dance.
I Am With You (the first part) uses some of that very difficult movement from The Constructors, performed by both my dancers and 5 teenagers, thus utilizing the idea of transitions from one dance to the next. We see my dancers, so gorgeous and accomplished, each watching over and being connected to a younger person counterpart. And you see the young people, so poignantly themselves: beautiful, capable, smart, and in-development before our eyes. To me, it’s just astonishing to see the two side by side, all showing us their fullest, most marvelous selves. Mike Rugnetta’s sound score for this section is a very ambient, quiet ticking sound, but, in the spirit of everything being purposefully so difficult, the dancers must ignore a very insistent back-beat that wants to throw them off the count. The movement is extremely intricate and plays on ideas of scale: small to big, simple to complex, solo to connected. There are gesture phrases that is presented in both a “plain” and “fancy” version: super complicated phrases in their “fancy” state. There’s a lot of partnering and interconnected-ness/use of weight, which is very new for the teenagers and challenges them in interesting ways.
The second section is a quartet develops ideas of growth choreographically: with movement phrases that get extended, expanded, “stuffed” with other material, and more. Mike Rugnetta’s score both plays with these ideas and separates from it: leaving space for the quiet for much of the dance while also countering its wit and softness at other times.
The last part is a duet for Michael Ingle and Alexandra Albrecht, to Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. The movement idea is very straightforward: the two of them each operate on a downstage to upstage plane, performing pretty much the same, increasingly complex and exhausting movement. Eventually, they get further and further out of synch: the canon becomes more extended. At the end one of them leaves, then the other one. It’s a story of two people going through an experience together, and then it ends. Yet while its choreographic concept appears simple, it's also an epic tale, the stuff of life. Wagner’s enormous, intensely romantic score reinforces that idea, countered by the basic simplicity of the actions of the dancers.