What happens when you combine dance and architecture, marrying movement and structure? How does an audience, empowered to choose its own way, react to the journey of two dancers as they move through space and around structures, drawing viewers into the work’s vignettes? That is what audience members can expect to explore with Zephyr Dance’s Valise 13, opening October 20 at Defibrillator Gallery.
“It’s built on thoughts and ideas I’ve had over the past few years of pushing the art of dance a little bit further to its edge, both choreographically and [in] how we view it,” said Zephyr Dance Artistic Director Michelle Kranicke. “This particular work is asking the viewer to go on a little journey.”
During Valise 13, Kranicke and dancer Molly Strom perform together at times and apart at others, allowing the audience to choose which dancer they feel compelled to follow as each moves along individual pathways, intertwined but without an underlying linkage. Kranicke said the inspiration for the piece stems from an idea of the personas we carry with us as we travel—the idea that we inherently present ourselves differently based on our location, all of which we carry with us.
“[It’s] and interesting jumping off point…those ideas were really exciting to me and knocking me off balance and forcing me to ask questions,” Kranicke said. “ We do transform ourselves a couple of times throughout the work, so that the idea of becoming somebody else depending on your location is sort of a thread that goes throughout the work.”
For this piece, Kranicke collaborated with her architect husband, David Sundry, with whom she has explored an artistic partnership for the past five years. For this show, he spent time in rehearsal with the dancers, “either watching and imagining his architecture as he observed the movement or giving us scenarios and ideas of how things might develop and grow and build,” Kranicke said. “The process was very, very much a verbal, imaginative one on his end and for us a very visceral, kinetic one.”
While choreography is fluid, able to change up until the last minute before a performance, architecture is more permanent. Once a structure reaches completion, it will unlikely immediately be dismantled for a new idea. Kranicke described the choreography as light, juxtaposed against the heavy components of Sundry’s structures.
Valise 13 encourages the audience to interact with the work, wander around, and stay as long as they like, similar to Kranicke’s three previous shows at the gallery. For this performance, Kranicke isolated three spaces within the gallery she found most interesting that she and Strom move through, with a large instillation piece directly in the gallery’s center space, the most obvious performance site.
Kranicke first began playing will dance as an interactive art form in 2009. She realized that while she set pieces she viewed and assessed them from every angle, an experience she wanted to share with her audiences. Since the dancers split for segments of the show, without repeat visits audience members are unable to view every moment of choreography.
“The thing about it is as human beings we are under the illusion that if we sit and watch a film or we sit and watch a play or a dance in the traditional fashion, we are able to apprehend all of its parts or components,” Kranicke said. “In reality, we are not able to apprehend everything. We can’t begin to take in the whole, so I wanted to really play with that idea.”
She hopes that audiences feel empowered to take their own journey through the piece and the space. She said they shouldn’t second guess their choices, and instead trust the experience they choose is the right one for them at that time—similar to how the personas we choose to share with the world are the right ones for us in particular moments of our lives.