Typically people keep their most intimate thoughts to themselves.
Pubescent girls with sneaky younger brothers or the particularly paranoid may even keep theirs under lock and key. Artists like Amy Llanes, however, process intimate thoughts through choreography and then share them publicly on stage.
Llanes, who identifies with being an extrovert and the “drama queen” of her family says her relatives love to recount the impromptu dance party during a childhood friends’ birthday celebration, during which, young Amy kept taking charge and repeating, “Look at me! Look at me!”
On some level, Llanes continues this trend and invitation, this time encouraging audiences to take an intimate look into her own thoughts.
“Each of the works in the concert could be pulled straight from my diary or from a moment in my consciousness,” says Llanes.
According to her, maintaining this intimacy is part of the core philosophy of Rednerrus Feil, a name that is an anagram for Surrender Life.
“I, as a choreographer, must allow myself to become completely vulnerable or take a chance of coming off superficial or contrived. We may not always achieve this total reveal, but that is our goal and intention,“ she confirms.
While intimacy and personal revelation is the thrust of this program, Into-Me-See is also an opportunity for Llanes and company to say to the Houston community, ‘here we are.” Their goal since relocating here from Huntsville, where Llanes was a graduate student, has been to showcase as much work as possible.
This strategy has led to partnerships with several local artists, including Jhon Stronks. “As part of his project Venturing Out, during the 2012-2013 season we were able to perform each month from October to May,” recalls Llanes.
Rednerrus Feil ended their season with a HopeWerk residency through Hope Stone Inc. that again allowed the time and space to create new work, as well as dialog with and receive feedback from her audience.
For Llanes, there was a time when she didn’t enjoy hearing responses about her work from viewers.
“When I first began creating,” she explains, “I would get so frustrated if a process was not going in the direction that I felt it should. I had such strong images and ideas that if I could not get it exactly right, it was wrong. “ For similar reasons, Llanes often feared that the perceptions of those watching would not match her intention.
“I feel that now I have the ability to allow a process to unveil itself to me, the performers, and the audience. It’s an understanding that an intention is a starting point and the creative process needs time to work itself out.”
Into-Me-See will feature brand new work as well as work that’s been revamped and re-imagined. Goodbye, Grace, for example, began life as a choreography project solo while Llanes was still an undergraduate. It resurfaced as a duet during HopeWerks and has now grown to seven performers for Into-Me-See.
Her latest duet, which was a work-in-progress showcased during HopeWerks, assists Llanes with defining feminism. “Since I was in high school, I have proclaimed to be a feminist,” she explains, “but does it still mean today what I thought it meant then?”
M2, which is an excerpt of Llanes’ thesis work, investigates the female body image and the role it plays for women who face breast cancer. A dream, the diagnosis of a close family friend and a student’s mother embedded fears and questions that Llanes knew she had to explore.
“I process life, situations, thoughts through choreography. If there is a difficult decision to be made, most of the time the answer is unveiled through a choreographic process and performance,” she reveals.
As such, the way humans relate and communicate is also a theme present in much of Llanes’ work. She will re-stage Just Sayin’, which debuted at Venturing
Out last season and is a choreographic collaboration with dancer, Jamie Zahradnik. The two dug into their own personalities and movement patterns to illustrate the differences between extroverts and introverts in conversation. Meanwhile, Word of Mouth, a new work about awkward verbal moments in dialog and discussion, also appears on the evening-length program.
Llanes admits she may not be completely prepared mentally for the leap from more informal events to a full-evening production, but she finds it exhilarating, and, after working with Rednerrus Feil Dance Company for almost seven years now, she feels it is time.
“I look forward to an event of this size and nature to be just like riding a bike so that we are able to identify our next challenge.”
–NICHELLE SUZANNE STRZEPEK