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Interview with Clairobscur – Bully

January 25, 2013

“Bully” will be performed by Clairobscur this weekend, January 25 and 26, 2013 at Diavolo Performance Space at the Brewery.

For information about Clairobscur:
For tickets to “Bully”:

How has Clairobscur Dance continued to grow and evolve?
2012 was a big year for us. We won the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival’s Festival Champion and People’s Choice awards in February and returned to Utah to perform a full evening concert there in October. We have been doing some teaching, at Imagine Ballet Theater’s summer intensive and we set a new work on Francisco Gella’s Colabo Youth Collective dance company this past December. We now have a regular home for our rehearsals thanks to the generosity of Los Angeles Ballet and just returned from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York, where we will be showcasing in 2014.

Please tell us about the pieces and theme in your upcoming show, “Bully.”
This new work, with an original score by Mark Hadley, looks at the contradictions of needing to belong to a peer group yet wanting to be a unique individual. How do bullies and victims designate themselves as such or do others push them into these roles? How does one act when they become a bully or a victim and the resultant emotions and consequences? The role of bully is not always manifested in the same way. In this work I consider the emotional similarities between the bully and his/her victim, the function of the gang/henchmen in creating and selecting the victim and the negative impact of being bullied. The piece is strongly driven by the amazing score by Mark Hadley. Mark and I talked a lot about each section of the music, what it was supposed to depict, themes and tones. It was a wonderful collaborative process.

Please tell us about the inclusion of guest artist Allynne Noelle.
Allynne and Noelle and I became friends while taking ballet classes around Los Angeles. In late 2011 she suggested that I apply for the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival. She is a close friend of Raymond Van Mason who is the Artistic Director of Imagine Ballet Theater (IBT), festival presenter. I submitted two works and was invited to participate in the Rocky Mountain Choreography Festival. I took a group of dancers and we performed an excerpt from my piece “Obviam Somes” and “Crawl Xipe Totec II.” We were awarded the Festival Champion award for “Obviam Somes” and the People’s Choice award for “Crawl Xipe Totec II” and were invited to return in October to perform a full evening at Peery’s Egyptian Theater. As discussions grew up around my returning to Utah in the Fall, it was decided that I would include the IBT dancers in a section of a new work that would be performed with my company in October. I was scheduled to return to Utah to teach the choreography in the summer. As I sketched out the new piece of choreography on my own dancers I became concerned that the work might be to difficult for the IBT dancers to learn. Allynne regular teaches at their summer intensive and know most of the students well. I asked her if she would come in to watch a rehearsal and tell me what she thought of the work, if it would be to complex for the IBT dancers. She came to rehearsal and watched. As we were running a section I sat on the floor with her and asked her what she thought. She said something like I can hardly sit still, I want to be in it. I thought she was just being nice, but she repeated several times that she wanted to dance in my work. Several hours after the rehearsal she sent me a text repeating that she want to dance in my work. She said it was like a puzzle and she really wanted to do it. I was looking for one more female dancer at the time and so we decided that we would see if it would work out. It has worked at beautifully. She has been a great addition to my work. She is musical, technically brilliant and more versatile than one would ever suspect of a ballerina that just finished dancing the lead in Los Angeles Ballet’s Swan Lake in 2012! She has learned some floor work and has brought deeper intensity to my more emotional works. She performed with us in October at Peery’s Egyptian Theater and after performing six weeks of the Nutcracker with Los Angeles Ballet is back to perform with us again this month.

What do you hope to evoke in your audience at “Bully”?
I feel that the audience always brings their own feelings, aesthetic, moral and social views to the theater and that they decide what the work means to them. That being said I always have specific things that each movement depicts, is designed to emulate and/or evoke. Some things are obvious, some subtle and obscured. I hope that the audience will be drawn to contemplate the situations they have been in and the potential consequences of our actions when “teasing” and that the work will be a jumping of point to further discussions.

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see for Clairobscur Dance in the future?
I would like to see us grow into an internationally touring company with a regular season in Los Angeles.

Any words of advice or inspiration for other dancers and choreographers?
Don’t ever give up if your really love it. Seek out great dancers and choreographers and work with them, ask them to mentor you and work as much as possible.

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