We caught up with artistic director and choreographer Darion Smith who is busy in the studio preparing AMP for its first public presentation at On the Boards Studio 26 this Saturday, October 15, in Seattle.
Smith introduced us to AMP a few weeks ago and now explains the evolution of the piece as it has undergone the workshop and rehearsal process with Janusphere dancers.
Have there been any developments to AMP that you did not foresee that came as a result of working in the studio with dancers?
There are always things you can’t foresee in the creation of a dance and when you add the voice in or some other element, the level of unknown possibilities increases.
For example how you use the voice itself can be so varied. You could be having a conversation, creating sound effects to go with movements, singing, sobbing, and the list goes on. Having such a vast range of choices can be overwhelming. This creates difficulty in zeroing in on what it is that catches my interest. I am trying to stay loose with the definition of my work AMP because it is a choreography but it has more layers of meaning and those layers create the experience for the performer and for the audience.
What have you learned, beyond your initial concept about the role and power of the human voice in our everyday lives?
Through using the voice to play with the tone, volume, pronunciation, sound effects, and text from inspired stories, I feel more immediately how much influence the voice has over our physical state. It could be very relaxing or it could be lousy and irritable. It could be playful. So now I am considering more how I myself speak and the sounds I make and how those actions will influence my perception of daily life.
AMP feels like an interdisciplinary work. What unique choreographic challenges and opportunities present themselves in a work like this?
If you’ve ever tried to hold a conversation while doing a rigorous choreography you’ll find out fairly quickly that it takes practice and you will probably have to create a specific method in order to deliver both parts effectively.
As we are working in the studio everything has to become as real as possible. The dance and the voice have to be convincing and that starts by convincing ourselves as dancers. Dancers that stand out to me are the ones that make me believe that what they are doing is the truth. The same goes for actors when they speak a line or become a character, I want to feel like that character is who they really are.
So this has been a real challenge, to convince ourselves in this other area that is not common or comfortable for most dancers. But through the process, what is coming out is more convincing and it is making the movement even more powerful. It is creating a context that was less available when we were working solely using movement.