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Rhetoracle Dance – Celebrate Dance 2012 Interview

February 26, 2012

Rhetoracle Dance

Tell us briefly about your dance company and its underlying philosophy?

RhetOracle Dance Company was founded in 2006 with a mission to bridge the concert and commercial jazz worlds. With so many dances either created around an idea, but were cryptic or inaccessible or created to be entertaining, but without saying anything or effectively conveying their intention, the goal of our company was two-fold. The “Rhetoric” part of our title referred to our mission to create dances using effective and articulate structure, choreography and theatrical elements to aid in accessibility and understanding without dumbing anything down or affecting the artistic integrity of the artists. The “Oracle” part of our title referred to our goal of picking topics and subject matter that either created a dialogue, educated, or inspired. Basically, we want people to not just enjoy watching dance, but to really “get” what they’re watching and feel like they are part of the discussion we create.

What piece will you be performing at Celebrate Dance 2012?

RhetOracle will be performing a premiere called, The Dancing Man. The dance, which is a narrative fairytale in the style of contemporary jazz inspired by The Pied Piper and The Red Shoes, is an allegory loosely based on a real-life experience and focuses on enchantment, disillusionment, and the loss of innoncence. The music, costuming, and libretto is all period set, but the dancing itself is contemporary. It has been an exciting challenge translating such a narrative concept, rooted in children’s literature, to an adult dance format without it feeling silly or condescending. We are very excited, as it’s our first narrative we have performed in a Celebrate.

What do you hope to evoke in the audience with your piece?

I think we forget that sometimes we just need a really good story. Yes, it is one thing to be entertained, and we need that as well, but it feeds the soul to be entertained in a way that makes us think, relate, or question at the same time. In essence, fairytales were designed to entertain children but also impart a sense of morality. I’m not saying that I agree with all of the Grimm Brothers’ ideas, but I like the idea that a tale is more an allegory than just a simple story. I hope to engage the audience in the story we have created, hopefully losing themselves, like we did as children, in these people’s journey with the Dancing Man. Ultimately, I want them to feel the same way they felt back when they first read Grimm’s fairy tales: whimsical, enchanted, and a little unsettled. It is then, we hope the audience will put themselves in the characters’ roles to question their own intentions and feelings.

How did you hear about Celebrate Dance and become involved with the show?

I met Jamie in 2007 after the debut season of my company. RhetOracle had blasted onto the scene with our first show and it had resulted in 13 Lester Horton dance award nominations. At the ceremony, Jamie had won for Best Dance Festival. She gave an impassioned speech and my company watched as she moved around the room talking to all the people we had regarded with respect for so long. I decided this was someone I wanted to know. I introduced myself, we had a nice quick chat, and she told me to send me video of my work. Soon after Jamie contacted me about participating in Celebrate Dance 2009. It was a big deal for my company, which had, at that point, been solely based in Long Beach and Orange County and we were sharing a show with amazing companies like Method, Ledges and Bones, Lux Aeterna. We communicated a lot and the end result was Siren, a dance that was later nominated for Lester Horton awards for Best Short Form Choreography and Best Performance by a Company. We have since had the pleasure of being asked back by Jamie in years since to showcase our work to an amazing audience in an amazing space.

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers and choreographers?

As an artist, I am always looking to grow, and it feels weird, at times, giving advice when I am always looking for some. But, I can share the one major thing I have learned since starting my company. Be yourself. Every time I have compromised my vision, my instincts, my natural voice, my final work product has suffered, felt contrived, and been ultimately unsuccessful. The times that I have thrown all caution to the wind and delivered something that I feel is very “me”, it has been received amazingly. I think trusting myself and knowing that what I do is different than what other people are doing is a strength that I can’t afford to forget.

For more information and tickets, visit Celebrate Dance 2012.


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