Five Questions for Brian Rogers & Ivy Baldwin
I asked Brian Rogers, the Artistic Director of The Chocolate Factory, and choreographer Ivy Baldwin, whose “Here Rests Peggy” opened there yesterday (and runs through next week) a few questions about their relationship to the venue.
What does an artist like Ivy offer the field? Ivy (in my view) is one of the few young dance artists who (a) is sincere and smart and is really trying to push the boundaries of something and (b) is making full on physical dance pieces. She is out of step with a lot of the work that’s happening now and for me, that’s totally inspiring.
How does time at The Chocolate Factory help her do that? I really love watching artists grapple with and respond to the weird quirks and challenges and charms of the space. It’s kind of impossible to work here without asking hard questions about architecture and space and how it relates to you artistically. Ivy is collaborating with an amazing visual artist named Anna Schuleit – and I don’t want to speak for them, but I think it’s been really helpful for them to have these two weeks in the space. Just speaking generally, when we give artists the keys and invite them to make themselves at home, you really see the difference in the work.
What has the Choco Fac residency offered you that enhanced your creative process?An abundance of time and space! It is a very unique opportunity to rehearse and finish a new work in the space that it will be performed. We have been rehearsing in the theater almost daily since October 4. The Chocolate Factory feels like Here Rests Peggy’s real home, not just a place we’ve show up to perform in. The residency has also made so many other things possible that would not have been easily accomplished otherwise. The most obvious is the 10 x 23 foot wall I had built in the space that is now a painting by artist Anna Schuleit.
What was your research/working process like for this work? I’m especially interested in sharing a little about how your time in Italy influenced your work. Again, it is all about having time and space to think and work. The Bogliasco Fellowship in Italy allowed for exactly that. While there, not only did I have my own dance studio to work in, I also had the opportunity to see numerous museums, including Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery in Venice. The title is taken from the simple inscription on Peggy Guggenheim’s grave, which is nestled in the gallery’s sculpture garden. Also, Anna Schuleit’s painting studio was adjacent to mine and it was during this time that we began talking of working together. Many months later when I began working with my cast here in NYC, I started by teaching them the solo I had made for myself in Italy. But, because I work very collaboratively with my dancers the piece has traveled a long way from these initial inspirations. The work now includes their imaginations, interpretations and life experiences as well.
How do you tend to work with collaborators? Each relationship is very different but all have been a real joint effort. Lots of discussions! Justin Jones, my sound designer, lives in Minneapolis. Our process is unique in that we collaborate long distance. Through electronic back and forth and a few visits by Justin to NYC, we work together to fine tune the music to the dancing. My collaboration with artist Anna Schuleit has included me visiting her studio in NH and her traveling to NYC to see rehearsals. A final decision regarding what the set for Peggy would look like did not happen until we started our residency at the C.F. and discovered that we could build a giant wall. It was an exciting process of influencing and inspiring each other as we both finished our pieces during the residency.