Meg Wolfe and I are fed up with dance. And we love it too. We want to create spectacle and we want whoops and hollers. We often feel trapped by expectations, so in our dance-making we aim to defy expectations. We dance because we are not compelled to externalize or express a linear story or reinforce one particular technique or point of view. Our point of view is dynamic. We dance because it’s the only thing that matters, and it doesn’t matter at all.
With The Other Thing, we propose that we need to know each other and you. We want to be social and we want to connect. We want to take care of you. We want you to feel your watching. We want to hold the frame for you, the unknowner, and bring you into the dance slowly.
So, we started this piece as strangers. Why? We wanted to feel the awkwardness of not knowing each other and use it as source material. We wanted our dancing to be the vehicle to familiarity. Also, because we don’t know each other well, we could feel the process of revealing ourselves. The personal reveal became something to examine. It became a way into the work.
We still don’t know each other well, but because we aren’t best friends or lovers or confidants, we have fresh, baby eyes for watching each other dance and make decisions. Nothing gets in the way. We wanted this kind of social condition to engender physical closeness and desire, and as point of departure. And, we are getting to know each other. We chose each other because through our limited encounters over the last decade, we both understood without actually saying it to each other that dance is inconvenient, demanding and often the work determines its own course of action. This work is personal.
Our research and creative process, in Montana, Minnesota and California, has had room for questioning and implementing different forms of physical arrival and departure, as well as social and physical connections, like one-on-one conversations, call and response, and stacking our pelvis three-high. So, now, everything, even our matched-up loins, is a conversation, and the dance is both social and anthropological.
It is drawn from the identities that we constructed for each other as strangers, so that we can move in closer and both blend and break our queer, white, bodies. And, everything we do is about engaging in the moment, engaging with our history, engaging with the people in the room, connecting with our imaginations, and exploring the physical and emotional tension found in all those conversations. All of this is viable material and we bring it to our table.
We are quite shy about this way of working. We reveal every side of ourselves to each other and we show some of it to you. The larger conversation about dance and its place in our culture is brought to bear on the work, unfolding into the work as we unfold in our process of getting to know each other.
This project is still in development, and is an experiment.
The Other Thing, New Original Works Festival, REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St. (corner of W. 2nd and Hope streets, inside Walt Disney Concert Hall complex), LA 90012. August 8-10, 8:30 pm.
REDCAT NOW schedule: Week 3 (Aug. 8-10): Daniel Corral; Morgan Thorson & Meg Wolfe; Paul Fraser, Genevieve Gearhart & Deena Selenow. Thu-Sat, 8:30 pm. Through Aug. 10. Tickets: $18; Festival Pass, $36. www.redcat.org. 213-237-2800.
Morgan Thorson is based in Minneapolis and has been making dances independently since 2000. Her work has been presented at theaters and museums across the country, and she has received many awards for her work including fellowships from USA Artists and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has been a resident artist at MacDowell Artist Colony, Maggie Allesee National Center For Choreography, Centre Choreographique National De Franche-Comte in Belfort, France and Wesleyan University, where she currently teaches. Thorson also teaches dance at the University of Minnesota and is a certified Skinner Releasing practitioner. A free-lance DJ, she mixes deep house for hire and is a community advocate at the Tubman Center in the Twin Cities.