Choreographers, Shana Simmons (Pittsburgh) and Erin Carlisle-Norton (New York City), have known each other many years. But it wasn’t until last fall that they had an idea to work together.
The two were inspired by an article they had read, “Do choreographers need editors?” by Judith Mackrell. Typically, dancers do not use editors. Oftentimes this leads to an excess of “darlings” just waiting to be offed.
Simmons and Carlisle-Norton agreed they would both choreograph a short work. After generating movement material, Simmons went to NYC to edit Carlisle-Norton’s piece. And Carlisle-Norton came to Pittsburgh to do the same for Simmons. About a month after that, they each presented their two versions (edited and unedited) to a group in NYC. That panel selected the versions we will see in Pittsburgh on December 4th and 5th.
Simmons admits that editing would be useful in dance. She says, “A lot of times people go to a modern dance concert and there might be one section that disconnects from the rest, or it was too long, or the point could have been made clearer.”
Many choreographers receive feedback from their peers. Simmons and Carlisle-Norton took that further. While they did discuss their intentions and choreographic choices, they edited one another without parameters. Simmons says this was riskier and more emotionally difficult because they didn’t have final say as to what would be cut or changed from their own work.
Next weekend, Pittsburgh will see the versions of each piece as chosen by the NYC panelists. Initially, Simmons and Carlisle-Norton created these works from the themes of “placement and displacement.” Simmons’ trio also explored ideas of borders and boundaries. The title is Red Rover, Red Rover.
Filmmaker, Louis Cappa, captured parts of the choreographers’ process this fall. His short documentary of their development will be shown before the performance begins.
Overall, Simmons feels that the editing experiment has been a success. She says, “Putting yourself through something like this, as an artist, can change and develop you. And that is an important part of what we’re trying to do.”
In addition to presenting the chosen works, Simmons will show a new quartet called Grounded in the Soil, based on the music of Otis Redding. Carlisle-Norton will also show an excerpt from a longer work, previously choreographed.
Who/What: Objective I, a split bill between Shana Simmons Dance and The Moving Architects
When: December 4th and 5th at 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Avenue in Friendship
Cost: Pay what makes you happy. Click HERE for advanced tickets.
***Objective I was supported by the Heinz Small Arts Initiative and is presented as part of KST’s Alloy Creative Lab Series.