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.

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For a Few Moments, There was No Talk of Illness or Chemotherapy

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Choreographic works of Barak Marshall, Victor Quijada, and Richard Siegal have instilled inspiration, passion, and undeniable emotion in the professional dancers of BODYTRAFFIC. This week, throughout BODYTRAFFIC’s residency in Lafayette, the unique energy and spirit of this organization was felt through multiple outreach projects. 

BODYTRAFFIC hosted three master classes for aspiring dancers and visited a PACE 2nd grade classroom of students at Prairie Elementary, but their passion for movement and self-awareness was felt in the purest form when the organization hosted a movement therapy class for patients of the Miles Perret Cancer Center.

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BODYTRAFFIC, in conjunction with Clare Cook, founder of Lafayette’s Clare Cook Dance Theater, provided patients of all ages with more than a dance class. Through physical expression, human touch, and release of emotional movement, the experience provided the patients a time to see through the fog of illness and be present in a lively and zealous occasion. For a few moments, there was no talk of illness or chemotherapy, no feelings of fight or exhaustion, no whisper of the word cancer; only positive, healing, emotionally present human beings enjoying one of the most simple things in life that can be taken for granted: movement. 

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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.