CORE Returns for a Free Show at Barnevelder
Shift is not only the name of CORE’s upcoming free show at Barnevelder on November 2 & 3, but aptly defines the current state of this remarkable Atlanta and Houston based dance organization founded by Sue Schroeder.
Shift features work by Houston choreographer Leslie Scates, former company member Lori Teague and CORE artistic director Schroeder. As for CORE’s 32nd season, Schroeder finds herself with all new dancers but one, focusing on building her legacy and preparing for a busy season, which includes several Houston shows. She’s recently bolstered the staff of CORE with some new leadership, allowing her to focus on the artistic product. “I’m learning to let go and get excited about what’s possible with new people,” says Schroeder. “I also find myself wondering how could this place exist without me.”
“Shift implies a new direction for the company,” muses Schroeder, while sipping coffee at Black Hole Cafe. “We need to continually re-frame the organization.” Schroeder embraces flux full on, knowing there is no shortage of it in the dance world. Dancers, funds and spaces come and go. Part of what makes CORE so resilient is exactly the ability to adapt to a shifting arts landscape.
The trio of new works are joined by a focus on practice over product. Each choreographer has had the time needed to work out their unique methodology with the company, allowing the dancers to have a creative voice in the process.
Scates is an adjunct faculty member at University of Houston and teaches ensemble thinking as a member of Lower Left. Scates will premiere Herd, a work that examines herd mentality. She has studied extensively with Nina Martin, and continues to evolve her own ideas on dance-making. Scates enlists improvisational structures to arrive at set material, but there will always be places in the work that are not set. For Scates, who is well versed in several forms of improvisational choreography, it often comes down to how we treat one another, on stage and in life.
Scates and Schroeder go way back. “We are kindred spirits in that we both honor the importance improvisation has within choreography,” says Schroeder. “Both Leslie and Lori work from a place that involves curious investigation, allowing the process to unfold.” Recently, Schroeder took the company on road trip to study ensemble thinking with Martin in Marfa, TX. “Leslie has deep tools for unleashing authentic movement from the dancers,” adds Schroeder.
Teague, now an associate professor at Emory University, has kept her ties with CORE fresh since leaving the company a while back. The title of her piece, I felt my life with both hands, is inspired by a line in Emily Dickinson’s poetry. “Lori’s work speaks to the fullness of space,” says Schroeder. “Like Leslie, Lori is also a contact jam person, so there’s lots of partnering in the piece that has been culled from her extensive contact work.” Teague allowed the actual vocabulary to come from the dancers’ bodies, and is also influenced by their personal lives and stories.
As for Schroeder’s new piece, Still, the state of change in her life and organization is a plus. “I love it. Having new bodies to work with is great for bringing me to new places as a choreographer,” she says. “It’s a personal piece that contains some carefulness and reflecting.” The choreographer used drawing and movement to help the dancers “get out of their heads.” Still is set to a commissioned score by Berlin composer Christian Meyer.
The season also includes a new work for Menil’s Dan Flavin Installation, a return to the Bayou City Arts Festival this Spring and the MFAH. Big plans for the future include a new work from choreographer Amanda K. Miller to premiere in Houston in Fall 2013, and a trip to Toulouse, France in Spring 2014 to work with a contemporary dance company, Association Manifeste, to create site-specific works with this company for outdoors and the stage.
Reprinted from DANCE SOURCE HOUSTON.