Backstage at "RDC3" getting ready for Diana's Buttrock piece.
Jerene and Sierra at "Backstage with RDC" -- our fall fundraiser event.
Dancing in Lauren Edson's "Below the Surface."
Jerene's piece "Sunt Lacrimae Rerum" presented as part of Full Tilt at Velocity Dance Center. Photo by Tim Summers
Photo by Tim Summers
Siena and Chris rehearse for Jerene's "Collapse" featured in PRIME.
By Gabrielle Gainor At this moment, there is no one in our upcoming show PRIME than I am more grateful to than Jerene Aldinger. The basics: She's been dancing for us for two seasons (you might remember her sassy moves from Diana Cardiff's buttrock-inspired piece) and this year, she's also created a lush new work, Collapse, which is as thought-provoking as it is enjoyable to watch. What may not be as obvious, however, is what a generous and efficient teammate Jerene is, whether it's as an outside eye, a rehearsal director charged with assigning counts to un-countable movement, or an understudy who's had to learn a new dance in two rehearsals (all things she's had to do this season). Having this accomplished artist only performing for us would in itself be a gift. Jerene is a rare combination of being both highly intelligent, as well as passionate, creative and expressive. Instead of merely being a dancer, however, she's gone above and beyond for Relay in pretty much every way there is to rise above expectations.
Now in year two of working with us, you created a new work for RDC presents PRIME. What is Collapse, your piece, about? To be honest, the inspiration for this piece came from a pretty cynical, even misanthropic mindset. I think a lot of us have been feeling disappointed, overwhelmed, discouraged, and even brokenhearted by the current state of affairs. The media constantly reminding us of all the problems humans have seemingly created for themselves. It's enough to make me sick I'm so angry. And I think so much of my aggravation is directed at our species as a whole. Because, on an individual level, I love humans. I see everyday how amazingly intelligent, adaptable, creative, compassionate, and strong people can be. I see individuals rise to their circumstances in ways that inspire my heart. With such capabilities, shouldn't we be able to right our wrongs? Reverse our course toward self-destruction?
Human beings have been extolled as the greatest product of evolution. The species given an unprecedented degree of intelligence, and the unique ability to interact with our environment by means of opposable thumbs. Great civilizations rise and fall, leaving imprints of solely human acts: agriculture, religion, art, medicine, and more. But we have been left unchecked. While all other species reach equilibrium with their environment, our gifts have allowed us to go from shaping to owning to destroying the world we come from. Our technology bounds ahead; we are unable to evolve to match our own creation. A creation with even less feeling than its owner, and empathy as the only quality capable of motivating us to reverse our wrongs. Nature conducted a great experiment with humans; and nature, we know, will always return to equilibrium.
Tell me about the journey you've taken with your dancers? We've taken a very collaborative approach for this dance. We spent the first rehearsals researching the inspiration for this piece- creating movement reflecting those qualities we view as uniquely human that distinguished our evolution from that of other species. The resulting movement asks how these traits contribute to our leaps of progress, as well as our potential downfall.
What did you learn from the last piece you choreographed, and how has that affected your current work? The last piece I choreographed was Sunt Lacrimae Rerum. It focused largely on individual relationships as we face our mortality. This translated well to in-studio improvisation, partnering, and collaboration. I absolutely loved what the dancers and I created with just a strong understanding on intent and delivery. I learned just how important collaborative improvisation is to my choreographic process, and I wanted to bring this into my current piece. However, Collapse is far less focused on individual relationships, and more on the aggregate, so it's been a challenge finding where to bring improvisation into the score. It has demanded much more structural and organizational planning, especially working with six bodies. The result was using improvisation and collaboration to come up with movement vocabulary that I could then organize, structure, and manipulate to tell the story of the group. I'm always learning how to balance organization and spontaneity. What's the hardest thing about choreography? Like most art, or even life in general, that hardest part is taking risks. I feel really pulled between my primary value of creating community-relevant and accessible works, and the importance of growing as an artist. Sometimes these feel mutually exclusive. In watching the development of some of my favorite artists in various mediums, I've witnessed a tendency to get pretty "out there" as artists dive deeper into their craft. Sometimes they can go so far down the rabbit hole that they leave the viewer behind. Their work is no longer as applicable, comprehensible, or even moving to the average outside eye. So for me, creating new works is about finding the sweet spot where I'm still growing as an artist through challenging myself and taking risks, while also presenting an approachable and pertinent product.
How does your work reflect the times? I think a lot of us are looking at the current state of affairs and asking ourselves, "How did we even get here?" This dance contemplates that question. I hope that in reflecting on our uniquely human qualities, we gain greater understanding of our nature, our tendencies, our motivations, our gifts, our weaknesses, our downfalls. And with this pause and mediation, we gain clarity on how to direct the course of our species. ______________________________________________
Relay Dance Collective presents PRIME April 15-17, 2016 Velocity Dance Center 1621 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
Cost: $20 online and at the door (cash or check) | $30 for "prime" seating