The 5th edition of our S P A C E Alliance Studio Residency program has (as always) been a pleasure to experience! This year’s residents committed to their unique research, processes, and desires over the past ten weeks, and now you have the opportunity to experience what they’ve developed! S P A C E Showcase is just one week away, and we can’t wait to highlight these excellent movement artists and their collaborators. To get the ball rolling, we’re sharing some insight into aisha & allie’s “who me? couldn’t be!” They’ve been in residence with Balletcenter Studios as their home base, baking up something fun for their project. Check it out:
What inspirations, launching points, or ideas are you working with for your piece for the S P A C E residency? How has that developed over the course of your residency process?
One of the biggest launching off points that brought us together was the idea of creating a very unserious piece. As active members in our current artistic shared spaces, we’ve experienced how dance can be treated very seriously and valued as something sacred because of the seriousness or heaviness of the work. We have been looking to challenge the idea that art has to be held at a serious level to be considered “real” art, and believe that there is a way to create works that are valued at the same level while exploring something silly, recognizable and unserious. And so, we came together to create a piece that will be seen as very serious to the characters within it, but with a subject as unserious as “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?” – a paradox within the piece that parallels what we want to explore as artists.
Ironically, we started to take our storyline and subject very seriously while creating “who me? couldn’t be!” and only recently took a step back to assess our original jumping off point. It was important for us to take a step back and see where we started, how the piece and our initial “theme” has developed, and how we think the development has aided in our goal to create an unserious-serious piece. We have had many moments of goofiness and laughter throughout the rehearsal process, but also through intense story building it is easy to lose the seriousness of crafting a piece. Although, as we near the end of the residency, and completion of our piece, we still feel that we have achieved the level of un-seriousness we were looking for, for this work. If anything, we have developed a piece that is self-aware, unserious, and a fun time.
Other than dance, what mediums are important to the overall theme of your piece? This could be music, projection, spoken word, etc. What role will these aspects play?
Music and theater have been integral parts to this piece. Our sound designer, Christian Gonzalez created a perfect score for our opening scene. After visiting a rehearsal and seeing the characters forming, we asked him to create a theme song for our piece that would feel like an opening for a tv show or sitcom. We felt that this was very beneficial for establishing the world and characters as we begin the performance. We also were very fortunate to have actor, Alexander Matos, aid us with coaching the dancers on how to develop their characters and play their roles. The first two weeks of rehearsal were solely dedicated to developing character ideas that we started with, and collaborating with the dancers and Matos on the character’s motivations and personas.
Another aspect was having our dancers journal throughout the process as their character. Although this is not a medium that is physically presented in the piece, journaling and discussing their characters was an integral part of the process and without them taking that deep dive into their character personalities, histories and relationships with each other, we wouldn’t have the same depth and clarity of each character.
What has been your favorite part of the process?
aisha: Literally all parts of the process have been so fun and fulfilling. I’m eternally grateful to these dancers for trusting allie and I to guide them through the craziness of story and character building. They brought in so many great ideas, and contributed so much to what the piece is now. I also feel so lucky to have worked with allie in this process. We compliment each other well in the way that we create, in the way we bring in different viewpoints, and in the way that we can ask and challenge questions without aggression or hostility. In a lot of ways, I think allie helped me become a better artist. ILYSM IRON CHEF ALLIE!
allie: This is a hard question for me! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so much of this process, coming into rehearsal every week was always so exciting. Each of the dancers have been such an inspiration in their own ways throughout our creation and I’m so grateful for their dedication! I’m also very glad to have worked with Alexander Matos after knowing each other as friends for over ten years…there couldn’t have been a better project to finally work together on. Lastly, of course, I’m forever grateful for Aisha for being so open to collaborating together; I literally wouldn’t be able to do this project without her (since I do not live in San Diego), and I was so honored that she was willing to find a way to make it work for us on this residency. I have been so impressed by the way Aisha works as a choreographer and artist, and am truly inspired by her in every rehearsal. It’s always astounding to me to witness all these people in space together: working symbiotically, feeding ideas off each other, digging deeper into the world we’ve created through joy and mastery– and that has been my favorite thing to witness and be a part of. This has been such an important process for me as an artist, and I’m very appreciative<3
Don’t miss the opportunity to catch aisha & allie’s seriously un-serious research at S P A C E Showcase on September 29 & 30!