Kimberly Bartosik’s “Ecsteriority4 (Part 2)” @ Abrons Arts Center
Kimberly Bartosik’s Ecsteriority4 (Part 2) premiered at Abrons Arts Center last week in a program titled Travelogues, curated by Laurie Uprichard based on works she has encountered while traveling. Kimberly was the invited guest teacher for Community of Practice Session #4, INFLUENCE edition, and Laurie serves as executive director of the Stephen Petronio Company which recently premiered Bloodlines, a 5-year project of restaging works by choreographers who have influenced the company over its 30-year history. In the spirit of acknowledging influence/legacy/lineage, Kimberly and I discussed the origins and development of her Ecsteriority series, her collaboration with fellow Merce Cunningham alums Melissa Toogood and Dylan Crossman, and past and future choreographic obsessions.
Kimberly, April 24 2015 (consolidated and edited):
This is a piece that I created last spring, early summer. It is not the piece I thought I was going to make. I had been doing all this writing about mourning, and violence and mourning, but realized I was making something…else. In 2012 after the Newtown massacres I started thinking about the energetic force before a violent act happens. What is that force? What is the moment before someone pulls a trigger? Before someone violates someone? Not the psychological thing, but what happens in the body? This trio is about that moment, and that inevitability of violation is always present. I don’t make political work at all, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what happens in the body.
During a residency in Arizona I started developing this material that was much more physical than I’ve made in a long time because I had all these young people to work with. It was amazing timing for me; suddenly I was looking at form again in a way I hadn’t for many many years. Now I have these two dancers from Merce’s last company, Dylan and Melissa, so I started just throwing movement at them and watching them getting to know who they were in this movement, and not deconstructing, not being so conceptual…I didn’t really talk about anything. It was really a physical exchange. The idea of rigor is so present in them, so Merce, and they go so far. There is something sort of ecstatic in that effort. When I saw that I thought, “I’ve got to make this really fast, it’s not going to be process oriented, and it cant take too long.”
It’s a really interesting mix of what’s been going on in my life…working with these young conservatory kids, all of my movement comes through my body and changes when it goes into these other bodies. It’s not that I’m not making rigorous movement, but when it goes onto somebody else I can see the potential for it to become more extreme, that that body is capable of doing that. Dyllan and Melissa really pushed that, and Marc has been working with me since 2008 and really knows my physicality and really pulled that out too.
It’s so violent! they BANG into the wall, BANG into the floor, BANG into each other. It is super super raw. It’s not improvised, but there is very little overall structure to it. If it misfires the whole thing could…it’s like getting shot out of a cannon. It can’t be over-rehearsed, or that edge comes off. As soon as the mastery started happening we stopped working on it.
Dylan is very very new to making his own work [Dylan’s new work Bound made up the other half of the Travelogues program]. The shared bill came about because I was very clear about not wanting to have my whole own thing. Dylan is an extraordinary person, generous, so mature, and I wanted to share the evening with an incredible person like him. He is also in my piece, so it is convenient. In general, I am drawn to the non-maker dancer in a process like this because it’s such a pure exchange. When you’re working with someone who is actively making their own work you can sometimes see a censoring happening; not in a critical way, but it can stop that flow of information. Melissa isn’t thinking like a choreographer but her input is very instinctual and body-based, and Marc is a very brilliant, generous collaborator as well. Dylan is just beginning to think of himself as a maker so he’s curious about choreographic decisions but is not saying “actually, I don’t think that’s right.” In the past I’ve been able to make work with other makers if it is a shared project, explicitly. I’ve been thinking about this so much. This and the bloodlines / lineage thing.
I have been obsessed with these really crazy taxidermy forms… I wanted a pile of dog heads in the piece. I don’t remember my exact thinking but I found these coyote taxidermy forms, and they’re made of this weird white (I’m sure really toxic) foam stuff and it looks really heavy but it’s lightweight. I made a pile of 50 heads. The shipping company chopped them in half to transport them and they’re put together with these rods..They’re so weird, so beautiful; they’re between death and life. They’re for dead animals but they’re in motion, there are places where the eyes would go… I think they are going to be in Ecsteriority 4 (Part 1) which will premiere at The Chocolate Factory.
Lydia, May 24 2015, on Ecsteriority4 (Part 2):
Marc and Melissa tenderly wrap each others’ arms, wrists, knees in athletic tape under full house lights. Dylan joins. They line up, square off. Wailing, grinding sound assault. They crash into the wall. They take turns looking at each other, one-on-one eye contact or unreturned staring; we imagine a two-against-one dynamic that never emerges. They take turns being the odd person out, clawing the wall alone or running circles, oblivious of the wrestling/embracing duet taking place downstage. An almost-unison whipping spinning dance, like one continuous fall, punctuated by hiccups and poses and shared between three bodies.
Ecsteriority4 (Part 2) premiered at Abrons Arts Center, May 20-23 2015 and will also be presented at The Yard in June 2015.
Ecsteriority4 (Parts 1&2) will premiere at The Chocolate Factory Theatre in 2016
Choreography and Direction by Kimberly Bartosik
Created in collaboration with the performers: Dylan Crossman, Marc Mann and Melissa Toogood
Video and photo documentation by Ken Parris III