Residency at the Center

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Xibipììo — Gina Hanchy Acadiana Center for the Arts, 2014 Photo Credit: Ashlee Eakins

Residency at the Center began in 2012 and has hosted ten local artists in the development of original work in visual, performing and media-driven disciplines.

What is an Artist in Residence Program?

AcA’s residency program helps to build and strengthen the creative community where artists are in residence for three to six months at a time. The program is structured to offer support through rehearsal space, along with administrative and technical assistance. Artists in residence build and develop original work under the guidance, assistance and framework of AcA’s residency program.

Why is a Residency Program important in Acadiana?

AcA values art making as an essential component of a vibrant, engaged and healthy community. The residency program strives to offer our local artists a platform to develop original work and to engage our audiences in a public dialogue on the value of contemporary art making.

Who are these artists? What have they created?

Xibipììo — Gina Hanchey

Dance

A contemporary ballet exploring the experience of transitions, both as individuals and as a collective, within boundaries we can and cannot see, asserting that we are what we know.

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Xibipììo — Gina Hanchy Acadiana Center for the Arts, 2014 Photo Credit: Ashlee Eakins

The Story of Christopher Jenkins—Keaton Smith

Film

The Story of Christopher Jenkins, is a live audio/visual performance combining the immediacy of mixing video with recorded footage to create an original story about a young man struggling with mental illness.

The work examines the protagonist’s fragmented thought, memory, and delusions. In an attempt to cure Christopher Jenkins, a pair of psychiatrists use a machine to extract images from his mind. The elliptical and sprawling scenery is processed and guided toward clarity, if only temporarily.

To learn about our current artists in residence and to see more of the work that has been created through our residency program, visit AcadianaCenterfortheArts.org/residency

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Thank You BODYTRAFFIC

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It’s been our mission to find work that is undeniably beautiful and that allows people to find passion, belief, and escape through artistic forms. Through the BODYTRAFFIC Residency at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, expectations were far exceeded. 

Serving as a breakthrough for dance in the Acadiana area, BODYTRAFFIC served the community through a beautiful performance and by interacting with residents through various outreach projects. From teaching three master classes to visiting Prairie Elementary School and the Miles Perret Cancer Centerthe company was immersed in culture and felt what it is to be a part of Acadiana. 

After building relationships through outreach projects, Tina Finkelman Berkett, Artistic Director of BODYTRAFFIC, expressed how powerful and personal it was to perform and recognize many of the faces in the crowdShe mentioned that the energy was different; more personal; and that the dancers could feel that on stage.

BODYTRAFFIC’s tour stop in Lafayette proved to be not only a performance, but also an immersion of culture and a precursor for change in the local dance community. The company was impacted by southern hospitality, community connection, and passion for art in all forms. The Acadiana Center for the Arts could not be more grateful for BODYTRAFFIC’s professionalism and level of engagement as stewards in our city, and we look forward to hosting the company again in the future.

AcA’s Artist In Residence: Shane Courville

We got a chance to sit down with our Artist in Residence, Shane Courville! It was great to learn just a bit more about him and the fantastic opera he’s composed. Check out the interview transcript below.

Your opera, The Return ties into a larger concept being explored by many different artists. Why do you think the concept of Returning is so prevalent in the work of so many artists?

I think returning to where you come from is so prevalent because for some reason human beings need to feel rooted-some type of stability. For a lot of people it’s where they learned to love, for bad or for good. And I think after having matured, many 30 somethings gravitate towards home. It’s when you realize your identity isn’t just your own, but where you come from and where you’re going. We like forget where we come from early on. But eventually we crave it and return.

How has participation in AcA’s Residency program influenced your work?

Working as a resident artist with the ACA has definitely influenced my work. I’ve had to learn to edit my work in a way that fits the different circumstances that the residency puts forward such as the space we have to work with. I decided to use the entirety of the ACA building for my opera. Working with Paige Krause has been inspiring. She’s definitely been a great sounding board and has helped to be more innovative.Tell us a bit about yourself. How has your own experience of returning to Acadiana affected your compositions, particularly The Return?

I grew up in the country between Duson and Mire in a really great Cajun family where music was always playing so music has always been a love of mine. I started playing the trumpet in middle school and composing in high school then went on to get a degree in music from Loyola New Orleans. At Loyola I met the Jesuits and decided to join them, so I was with the Jesuits for almost 8 years. During my time with them, I developed my current compositional style and so of course liturgical are prevalent in my sound. You’ll hear them in the Return as well.

Your work is influenced by minimalism, are there any particular composers or pieces that you might say inform your practice as a composer?

My big three favorite composers are Philip Glass, John Adams, and Steve Reich. I think all three elicit a sense of mindfulness in their music that really guides their listeners towards contemplation. I try to bring my own listeners to the same place. Bjork is also a huge an influence on my music. She also creates spaces much like minimalist composers. Rather than a linear motion, your drawn to just sit and be with the music. I try very hard for this to come through my music.

What about the Longfellow poem?

The Evangeline story has always resonated with me. She was born in a sort of idyllic lace, was torn away because of something out of her control, and had to find home somewhere else. For me, she found a home in her love for Gabriel as tragic as that is. I think for many of us returning “home”, we’ve had to endure a sort of loss as well. But for some reason the love we find there remains and keeps us looking/searching for its meaning.

The artwork for The Return is influenced by Piet Mondrain and the philosophies of neoplasticism, How has the work of Mondrain affected your own work?

Piet Mondrian’s artwork has always been important to me. For me I’ve always connected to it in a sort of static way. It creates more of a space than a story. My compositions strive to do the same and I use his artwork throughout to remind myself and the audience of this. The story is there to remind them of the bigger question. It just so happens that the Acadian flag and Mondrian’s works have similar colors. So I thought by combining the two I would show the struggle to combine contemporary art with my Cajun upbringing.

 

A PLAYful Process

The performance of PLAY opens tomorrow night and that usually means crunch time for all those involved! One of those collaborators is Darolyn Robertson. Darolyn moved back to our community after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. When Darolyn isn’t working on her own projects, or designing for local productions, you can find her at LJ Alleman Middle where she teaches art!

Our Residency @ the Center coordinator, Paige Krause, found a few moments talk with Darolyn about her collaboration and design work for the production of PLAY.

Paige: First off, you were one of the artist-in-residence last season at the AcA. What’s it like to be back working on the program, but now as a collaborator?

Darolyn: Being back at the AcA for this reason feels great. I really felt the residency helped me to push my limits creatively and experience the process of presenting work to an audience. In this case, the collaboration process gives me a new angle in which to see how another artist works to achieve the same goal. The process is different for everyone and I have learned a lot from Theresa’s artistic process to see her vision carried out. To add, an artist is often isolated with the work, so to collaborate in this way allows me to see a different translation of the concept, disseminate ideas with the director and cast, and ultimately critique the designs with another opinion at the table.

Paige: What can you tell us about your costume design work for PLAY?

Darolyn: The costume designs show different stages of PLAY in life. At the beginning, you will see a more adolescent expression of what is worn for the type of PLAY at that point in one’s life. Then, you will see the costumes evolve to exemplify the many other stages we may experience into adulthood. The emergence or departure from one phase to another is shown through the artistic elements used to design each piece. The physicality of the piece motivates the design the most. The dancers must not only look the part of the type of play they are expressing, but have to be able to freely experience it in the costume.

Paige: How closely did you collaborate with Theresa for the costumes of PLAY? Does she give you a concept or ideas? 

Darolyn: Theresa is very lucid in her vision for PLAY. She started off discussing her vision of the concept and that lead to discussions on how that would manifest in the costume designs. We considered the type of movement, set design, music, and what each section of the performance had to say. Just like with any costume designer/director collaboration, I present her with the ideas and then we edit so that it all makes sense for the production.

Paige: Where did you pull inspiration for the costumes and what research did you do while creating?

Darolyn: Like most costume designers, I pull my research from different image sources off of the Internet. However, I have the benefit of watching kids at play when I teach. By observing the children, I learned what was most essential to the playing experience. I created a board of all the pictures I felt really illustrated what people wore to play. In the process, I had to first answer the question, What are play clothes? Like many others, I have heard the words “play clothes” often in my childhood. I really wanted to capture that. Throughout time, there has always been an area of the fashion industry that tailored to the need of clothing to function for the purpose of play, such as children’s rompers, cruise clothing, fetish gear, and cosplay. So in the same way, I used an art + function formula to create the designs.

Paige: What do you think is the most important thing for a costume designer to think about when costuming a show?

Darolyn: I think the most important thing for a costume designer to consider is the story or vision of the production. The designs have to fully support that. The garments can be constructed beautifully and have amazing fabric selection, but if it doesn’t help tell the story then the costumes have lost their purpose.

Paige: Have you ever had any costume mishaps take place in live performance? Any interesting story you can share?

Darolyn: I haven’t had any major mishaps I can think of off hand (fingers crossed). But I have definitely experienced some “nail biting” moments. Once, I was working on a show called “1001”, as a wardrobe supervisor. I was responsible for the upkeep of the clothing, set the costumes, and also the changes within the performance. I had this one actor who played two roles, a human and a monster. The change into the monster costume was something like 90 seconds. In that time frame, he had to run from stage left to stage right (backstage), take off his full suit all while running, which included shirt and tie, put on a monster coat and spats. Those spats! They were so difficult to get on and he didn’t have enough time to take off and put on shoes. We did well with the change mostly, except for one night one of the monster spats did not make it. So he went on stage with a furry spat on one leg, and a dress shoe and and dress sock on another, leg exposed. It happens like that sometimes.

Paige: And last, but not least, how does Darolyn PLAY?

Darolyn: I don’t “play” much in the traditional sense. However, this show has me remembering the strong desire to play everyday as a child. I came from a neighborhood full of kids who shared that desire as well. As I grew older, I recognize “play” in my life as the process of creating art. I really love the playful process that happens when designing a new show and getting the fabrics for the first time. The joy is very similar to playing as child, except I wish it involved the same amount of physical activity.

PLAYing with Geometry

People usually ask what came first when creating a performance? Was it the choreography, music, costumes, set? Well in this interview, we know the Star Tetrahedron that James Wise designed for the set of PLAY came before the project PLAY! Not sure how they finally found one another, but that is something we hope to discover in our interview with artist James Wise. Our Residency @ the Center coordinator, Paige Krause, talked about his collaboration with Theresa Wasiloski and his Star Tetrahedron sculptures that invite anyone to climb, swing, hang and PLAY on them!

Paige: So James, tell us how and why you started designing star tetrahedron sculptures?

James: I became interested in sacred geometry 10 years ago when a friend showed me the work of Drunvalo. I was drawn to the simplicity and mysticism, but also to the tangible feel it gave to the energetic world. The star tetrahedron, for me is a symbol, representing the point where the observer and the universe are connected. One day I had a bunch of bamboo, and I just decided to build a star tetrahedron. I knew it was a beautiful shape, but I had no idea how much fun it would be to play on one.

Paige: Another interesting element is the material you use and recycle to create the pieces. Can you give us details on the process of collecting and creating the work?

James: I use bamboo, sourced locally, and recycled bike tubes from local bike shops. Bike tubes are a great resource because they provide superior binding power that offers flexibility and they get a second life before they go to a landfill. Bamboo is amazingly beautiful, natural and ethereal, just being around it makes you appreciate natural form and balance. It grows so fast, is so strong, and yet also mostly hollow; even the “woody” parts of it are filled with air holes.

Paige: So tell us more about the collaboration between yourself and Theresa. How did the conversation begin and what excites you most about working with her on the piece PLAY?

James: Theresa heard that I had made things out of bamboo, and we got together and started talking. I suggested star tetrahedrons made from bamboo as props, movable, climbable, set pieces. She liked the idea and we went from there. I’m super exited to see the pieces used in a stage production, especially one as fun as PLAY.

Paige: An element that I think is exciting is that you create these pieces with the intention of encouraging play for someone that might discover them, like in a public space. With this collaboration, you have a choreographer that approaches you because her intention is to create a piece of work all around the idea of play! Have you observed rehearsals and seen the dancers interactions on the star tetrahedrons?

James: Yes, I’ve seen one little teaser during an ArtWalk, it was defiantly playful, I liked it. I think these structures would do well in public spaces, people love to climb and swing on things.

Paige: So what are you excited to see from the collaboration?

James: I’m looking forward to seeing how the star tetrahedrons are manipulated on the stage. They can easily be turned so that only two corners are touching the ground, or rolled, or put on one point so the appearance of two pyramids passing through each other is apparent. It will be awesome to see how people move through them, or on them.

Paige: So what are you currently working on and where can we find more about your work?

James: Currently I’m working on furniture – tables mostly – made from reclaimed wood, with cement tops. It’s modern rustic furniture. Find out more by talking to me or send a telegram, or email. jameswise1984@gmail.com

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Paige: So how does James PLAY?

James: I play everyday in every way.

Paige: Thanks, James! We can’t wait to see your pieces in the production of PLAY!

James: Thank you so much. I can’t wait to see the production.

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It’s time to PLAY @ AcA!

We are nearing the end of our AcA performance season and invite you to come and experience PLAY! Through AcA’s program, Residency @ the Center, we offer support to our local community of artists to research, develop and create original work in performance and/or media driven arts.

For the past six months we have been working with local choreographer and artist in residence, Theresa Wasiloski. Her show hits the stage on June 18th and runs through June 20th. It’s a piece that brings a creative group of artists to the center and a great opportunity for our community to learn more about the work that Theresa is creating! Follow us on Facebook and get to know her collaborators, cast and the work PLAY! Our Residency @ the Center coordinator, Paige Krause, found a few moments to chat with Theresa about her process and how the residency has helped shape her work.

Paige: First, tell us a little more about you and about working as a choreographer in Lafayette, LA. 

Theresa: I moved from Baton Rouge to Lafayette to finish my BFA in Performing Arts at UL.  I’ve been back here about nine years now, and have been performing, teaching and choreographing in the area since then.  

For about two years I’ve been leading the group Movement Lab, choreographing for and collaborating with a group of dancers. What that looks like is, we come into the studio with an idea or structure, and play around, experiment with movement for a couple of hours, and set something. 

Paige: Choreographers depend on their dancers to carry out their vision, however, your process is a little different because you involve dancers as collaborators during the creative process. Can you walk us through a bit of your approach during the process?

Theresa: It kind of differs from one section to the next, but in some areas of this project, I’d give the dancers a framework such as a prop or set of rules, and they create something within that framework.  Then I might rearrange what they do, try it over and over again until the movement says what it needs to say, so to speak. 

I absolutely take cues from the dancers… Sometimes what they do with an idea is not what I had in mind initially but works better within the piece, so I’ll say “keep that!” I love working this way, because it gives the dancers more of a creative voice, but also give the dance a chance to evolve in a way that is right for the dance, and that may be far away from where we started. But I believe that in performing arts, it’s really important for the performer to have a vision too, and I think that vision is strengthened when the performers work collaboratively.

Paige: Have you found that the residency has offered new insights, approaches, any change to the way you create? Any limitations to your approach?

Theresa: I think doing this residency project has encouraged me to do everything bigger. 

I’ve definitely never set this much material on a group of dancers for one show before – never really done anything this big. From the process to the timeline, as well as the amount of collaborators and the AcA team… The support that is offered through this process has been different – more. And that’s wonderful! Usually when you’re producing your own show, you’re kind of doing everything yourself or it’s just a few people putting the program together, setting lights… It’s been so nice to have the support of the AcA staff and the other collaborators, because it not only takes a load off of me, but I’ve got these amazing professionals helping out who have wonderful visions of their own and encouraging me to really go for it, and that makes the overall work fuller.  

Paige: Tell us a little more about your collaborators on this project. When working with other artists, having discussions and seeing their process, does their work influence your choreography?

Theresa: Absolutely. This piece has been collaborative in nature since it’s inception. After finishing Movement Lab’s last show, I was bouncing ideas off of friends and fellow artists, trying to connect elements of what I wanted to explore as an artist with a concept to present to an audience, and that dialogue really helped me make those connections. It’s amazing to me how things fall into place that way sometimes. 

The star tetrahedrons that James Wise built for PLAY (from bamboo and used bicycle tires!) have influenced and informed the choreography, how the performance space is used, and they also provide an environment for the dancers, which changes throughout the show. James had built one of these structures before as a sort of adult-sized jungle gym, and having used it, he also shared ideas about how we could move on them, how many dancers each structure can support, that sort of thing. They’re so beautiful! If we used something different for our set, we’d have a completely different dance. 

Darolyn Robertson is another collaborator who is designing and building our costumes, and what’s wonderful about working with Darolyn is that she’s just amazingly thorough. She always has tons of questions for me and that’s so great! It keeps her really close to the work and she gets really engaged with it. Especially when I don’t have answers to those questions right away, because then we get to talk about possibilities together, and there’s a sort of magic in that.  You know, when a piece of work is just an idea, it’s kind of like a daydream – something that could happen. But when you’re working with someone like Darolyn who is so incredibly visual and works so deeply – when you share ideas together – that’s when the work starts to exist.  It’s incredibly exciting. 

Brian Schneider is my third collaborator, and his work comes in a little later in the process. He’s designing the lights for PLAY, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him. I’ve danced in pieces for which he’s produced beautiful designs, but haven’t had the opportunity to collaborate yet. I’m certain that I’ll learn a lot! 

Paige: Tell us about the music for PLAY. What might we hear and how did the music come together? Does the movement or music come first?

Theresa: As a choreographer and dance teacher, I’m constantly checking out music and I always keep a sort of library of things I think I’d like to work to in the future. Some of the music we’re using in PLAY I’ve been holding on to for five or so years, knowing that eventually I’ll have the right dance for it. It’s always a treat when I get to use a piece that I’ve been holding onto for a long time (Patrick Watson’s “Where the Wild Things Are” being one in PLAY, for sure), but it’s rare that I actually make a dance for a piece of music specifically. Usually the concept comes first and at least an idea for the movement, then it’s about finding the right fit. 

The music for PLAY is pretty eclectic, there are a few tracks by The Avalanches, a couple by Chilly Gonzales. And for a couple of sections of movement, there is no music at all.

Paige: So, what excites you about what the audience might experience when attending PLAY?

Theresa: I’m excited about a few things. First and foremost, there are a couple of “surprise” elements that actually involve the audience more than your standard “sit down and watch” experience. I don’t want to say too much more about it than that, but over the last year I’ve been trying in my work to engage audiences differently, to invite them in on process, for example. I don’t know if audiences, when they’re experiencing theater works, realize how important they are. At least they’re probably not thinking about their role while they’re watching a dance.  But it’s really interesting to me, and you can ask any performer – the audience’s response, their energy – can really affect how you feel onstage, and how you perform. 

I hope the audience, in keeping with the spirit of the piece, feels comfortable enough to PLAY with us. 

Paige: And last, but very important, how do you PLAY?

Theresa: Tickle wars – Best way to play – Very important to me.