IMAGE ABOVE: NobleMotion Dance in Dark Matters: Evidence of Things Unseen. Photos by Lynn Lane.
NobleMotion Dance premieres Dark Matter: Evidence of Things Unseen at the Barn, Aug. 29-30 and Sept. 4-6. The evening features light design/technology from David Deveau and original music by Jonathan Kinsey. Inspired by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Darwinism, and passages from the Bible, Dark Matter examines some big question. The company is in growth mode, they are beginning their second year in the HAA incubator program, have been added to the Texas Commission for the Arts Touring roster and have another collaboration with Musiqa in the works. The Nobles (and Deveau) sat down with A + C editor in chief Nancy Wozny to discuss the new show and the company’s recent growth.
Arts + Culture TX: I see you are going dark on us once again. I had a feeling you weren’t all that comfortable in the unplugged realm.
Andy Noble: Actually, we had a great time unplugging. It gave us an opportunity to explore some new ideas. And it’s certainly a lot less stressful production wise when you remove the technology. That being said, we had to return to our trademark total theater experience. Although Dark Matter is the title of our next show, much of the work is filled with beautiful, reflective light. The whole second half the dancers perform on mirrored floors that create stunning visuals.
Dionne Noble: And one of my works, a collaboration with technology guru Jonathan Kinsey, is filled with color. It closes the first half and works with projection design in a way that is new for us.
A + C: Color, light and mirrors? That is new. What kind of movement challenges are you asking of your brave dancers?
AN: Well, the mirrored surface requires the dancers to wear socks or their feet stick. But socks seem to be very trendy in dance nowadays, so we fit right in.
DN: They also dance on and off platforms, alongside large-scale projections of themselves, break out of plastic, and perform a kick butt, full on gladiator match. You know, the usual stuff.
A + C: Do your dancers ever ask, “You want me to what?” Talk about the give and take.
AN: I’d imagine they have some pretty funny stories to share! Our dancers are unbelievably generous inside of the creative process and pretty darn fearless. We consider them to be collaborators. Every creative process is a little different, but we ask for their input a lot and they generate much of the movement you see on stage. But I am notorious for asking for input and then going in a completely opposite direction. Annoyingly so, I’m told.
DN: This is my favorite part of the process. We usually give creative assignments or movement problems for them to solve in the studio. I love seeing what they bring back to us. They are ever inventive and a little bit competitive with each other – okay a lot competitive – so things are never dull!
AN: I’ll add to that! We hire smart and intuitive dancers. They understand the challenges of working with technology. They have to – we never have as much time to create as I would like.
A + C: What sparked Dark Matter?
AN: Since we love working with light installations and technology, the concept of Dark Matter generated a lot of intrigue. Dark Matter is a type of matter that neither emits nor absorbs light. Its existence is hypothesized to account for mass where mass cannot be seen. The challenge becomes, how do you show something that you cannot see inside of a live performance. In one of our think tank meetings we started drawing comparisons between science and faith. We found a quote from the Bible that speaks of faith as “the evidence of things not seen.” Surprisingly, that also describes Dark Matter. Science and faith are often seen as being in conflict. But both are searching for truths, it’s just their methodology is different. What better way to combine the two then thru the arts? The full title of our evening, Dark Matter: Evidence of Things Unseen, aptly combines the two.
A + C: You develop your work in a gorgeous theater at Sam Houston built specifically for dance. How does the Barn hold up for the effects you hope to produce?
David Deveau: We actually came across this challenge in our last show, Spitting Ether, and we were pleasantly surprised at how some of the effects worked better. We try to work out as many of the logistical things for the transfer during the rehearsal process. For instance, the grid height at the barn is 14’ so we bring in all of our pipes to that height so we know exactly how large a certain area is going to be lit. Truthfully, the question, “Can we do this in The Barn?” comes up a lot and we make decisions based on what we feel the answer will be.
AN: The intimacy of The Barn allows our technology works to feel very immersive.
A + C: How do you balance all that is in motion? In the last techno charged show of yours, too much was going on, giving me a headache, and obscuring the movement. How do you take in account that when a lot is happening on stage?
AN: The tricky thing with technology is everybody has a different threshold. The Grid, the work of which I believe you speak, really seemed to resonate with the younger crowd that we try to attract.
A + C: My concerns have nothing to do with my age, it’s an aesthetic that wasn’t working for me, a sense of composition. But carry on.
AN: We want everyone to relate to the work and we are constantly focused on the interaction between the tech and the moving body. When are man/woman and the machine in harmony? Sometimes they are not and that can also create a fascinating interplay and tension. Part of what excites us about this kind of work is that it is really challenging to create. It’s roughly twice as much work and requires a very thoughtful touch. We don’t always hit it out of the park, but when we do, it is so thrilling!
DN: There is a lot more to be discovered – more in the technology and the use of the technology to direct the viewer’s eye. I think if you look at the body of our work, you will find that we usually balance the story telling with a careful use of dance, light, technology, and pizazz. This is the journey I am most interested in right now – the unchartered.
A + C: I really enjoyed your collaboration with Musiqa. Noblemotion seems a natural fit. Can you give us a glimpse into your next collab with Musiqa?
DN: Our collaborative evening will be at Zilkha Hall, The Hobby Center in April 2015 and will include three works that combine the talents of NobleMotion and Musiqa. One work, yet to be created, will have an unusual process. NobleMotion plans to create a dance in its entirety, video it, and hand it over to Musiqa composer Marcus Karl Marony, who will then create the music. Talk about relinquishing power! This promises to be a curious process for sure. The other two works include Harvest, which jumpstarted our partnership earlier this year, and another new work that will include a technological element.
AN: Musiqa is open to taking some pretty big risks and work outside of the traditional norms. I can’t wait to see how these new collaborations unfold.
A + C: You have just wrapped up your first year in HAA’s incubator program. Forgive the food pun, but how cooked are you?
AN: We are going great guns. HAA’s Incubator Program has been instrumental in our recent growth. Our focus right now is growing our board of directors as well as increasing revenue to pay our dancers more and hire a full-time executive director. Lots of challenges, but we are approaching them head on. So, partly cooked!