Skip to content

An interview with method dance company

May 3, 2010

method is a contemporary dance company based in Los Angeles. Their upcoming world premiere of “then see if you still love us” takes place this weekend, May 7-9, 2010 at the Bootleg theater in LA. Tickets for their upcoming show can be purchased online at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/103351.

I had the opportunity to question method’s artistic director, Bradley Michaud, about the company and its upcoming premiere.

When was the company started?
The company was founded in 2005 after a prior company, Tongue, disbanded. I had been in that company for 3 years and it was the only place I felt like home. When it folded I knew I was not done dancing, or creating, so I formed method as a means by which to continue to grow as a dancer, and to begin my choreographic process in earnest.

How many performances do you do a year?
We do one or two major productions in Los Angeles per year, and a few out of town gigs. This season we have a weekend of shows at the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles, a show September 16 at the Ford Ampitheater, and a weekend of shows in Montreal in October.

What’s the underlying philosophy and purpose of METHOD?
My goal as a choreographer has long been to capture an extreme, stripped down sensibility by removing the artifice from dancing and letting the choreography and performance itself be the communicative tool. Rather than narrative, I strive for a visceral emotional energy exchange with audience members and fellow performers through this extreme physicality. I have found that this only occurs when I push myself and the dancers out of our comfort zone and into physical territory that scares, then delights. I relish high-speed, off center propulsion and disregard the moment of recovery, preferring instead the moment of abandon. My aesthetic is one where the human body resides as sole communicator and is stripped of artifice: no spoken word or text, no video projection or multi-media display, no play-acting: just pure, high velocity, idiosyncratic, unbridled movement and momentum.

With method, I strive to create work which is both identifiable and transcendent for the performers as well as the audience, and which brings forth immediate shifts in time and space as well as an altered consciousness that will be shared by both the dancers and the audience.

The audience I target is one that responds first and foremost to intense physicality. The work I create strives to generate a deep, visceral response in viewers. Because contemporary American society has tended to de-emphasize handed down culture and folklore in favor of progress and change, it is necessary for artists to create an artistic record of the surrounding reality in which art is generated. In order to maintain the connection to our deeper selves and understand our connection to events as they unfold around us, I try to create work that acts not only as a reflection of the world around us, but as an artistic record-keeping. With each project I attempt to blend the concepts of education, physicality, and purpose to my artistic process of experimentation and invention in the hopes of enriching myself, the dancers, and our audiences.

Has this changed since the company was first founded?
This purpose has not changed but I have become better at describing it and at describing the genesis of my technique. When asked to describe my technique or my choreography I used to get irritated. My chosen communicative tool is dance, and it speaks for itself, so why would I talk about it? I’d spent nine months teasing movement out of my brain and into the bodies of my dancers in order to make a work of art. Why would I reduce all that effort and energy and heartache to a few tepid sentences? I have struggled to find the proper, eloquent words to communicate something I always felt could only honestly be spoken about through movement. However, the necessities of being an artistic director forced me to open my mouth, and this is what came out. I still am not sure if it is proper or eloquent but it’s honest and that’s all I can offer.

I love when people fall down. I love seeing someone drop something, or spill food or drink on themselves. I love when my pencil breaks as I’m writing, or I accidentally give myself a paper cut while trying to create stacks of paper in the name of cleaning. These little interruptions that force me to change direction, or slow down, or reformulate a plan make my inner child smile. Walking into a plate glass window is the surest way to make me your new best friend. There is no greater joy in life than watching someone trip over a crack in the sidewalk, stumble a few feet, throw their paperwork and coffee into the air, lose a shoe, and finally succumb to gravity. Do not mistake me for a sadist; I take no pleasure in other’s misfortune.

What fascinates me is the immediate moment after a trip, but before the fall; when the fear has registered in the brain but before the self-awareness has taken back over. That moment when the autonomic nervous system kicks in, pushes the ego aside, the façade finally drops, and the unvarnished you peeks through. Gone is the self-assured, well put together, able bodied walker, a real self has poked out from behind the mask–limbs flailing, spit flying–as the body tries desperately to right itself. The moment of completely unselfconscious letting go is the moment I crave. When emotional baggage, plans for tomorrow, the echo of last night’s triumph or failure, the inner monologue all cease and you are totally in the here and now trying to prevent disaster. These moments often occur only in moments of great surprise, often coupled with pain or embarrassment. But they are more organic to me than the manufactured realism of play acting or emoting.

What is your favorite piece of choreography to date?
The first work I did for method was called “after the fracture” and it holds a special place in my heart because it was so raw. It was the first time i really put my own choreography out there. It was a duet with my favorite fellow dance Jay Bartley. Here is a clip of it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfx-jE36Wjc

In terms of craft however, I am most proud of out latest work premiering next week. With each new piece I feel like I grow a bit and am able to better communicate ideas. I am no longer just choosing, I am making choices, and i think this evolution is reflected in the latest work.

Briefly tell us about the pieces in your upcoming show.
The piece premiering on May 7 is called “then see if you still love us” It is a 60 minute, evening length work for 6 dancers. The piece came about as I reflected on love and loss in Los Angeles. It’s a big city for a single guy. The piece basically looks at relationships, fleeting or lasting, and how loneliness affects us, inhibits us, and frees us.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience at “then see if you still love us”?
I hope audiences will have a powerful emotional experience that connects with their own search for love. I hope to take the audience on a ride that is thrilling physically but also relevant and topically important to them. And I hope it encourages them to see more local dance in Los Angeles. There is so much going on here right now, and there are so many great choreographers. This is really an interesting, transformative time in Los Angeles dance history.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for method in the future?
My goal is to have a full time, fully financially supported, and touring dance company. I want my dancers to be paid full-time, and paid well. I would like the company to have its own studio for both rehearsing and teaching the method technique to others. And of course I want to make great art that is appreciated and that moves and educates audiences about humankind’s oldest art form … dance 🙂

[Disclosure: I am receiving complimentary tickets to watch and review the event, but am not otherwise being compensated for attending or covering this event on my blog.]

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 7:31 am

    Thank you for supporting Bradley & method. I have produced his company twice in my event Celebrate Dance at the Alex Theatre. method’s work always brings a level of cutting edge physicality and intensity that is unique to method. They draw you in , make you watch, lean forward and you end up sitting on the edge of your seat, leaving you wondering how they do it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s