MISNOMER DANCE THEATER is a repertory company that was founded by Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer, Chris Elam.
The company creates contemporary dances about human relationships that are informed by cross-cultural and international perspectives. Elam approaches dance both as a choreographer and ethnographer, which informs the technical and conceptual complexity of his choreography.
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You are about to watch "Being Together" a full-evening dance production comprising of three dance pieces. The pieces are "Too Late Tulip" (18 min), "Rock.Paper.Flock" (25 min), and Zipper (28 min). There will be a 15 min intermission between the second and third piece. During the performance, online audience members can chat. Further details on the program credits are below. Enjoy!
Being Together - Choreography by Chris Elam
Too Late Tulip
Dancers: Brynne Billingsley, Luke Gutgsell, Jennifer Harmer, Coco Karol, Dorian Nuskind-Oder
Costumes: Liz Prince
Music: Greg Brown, Chet Baker, Giora Feidman, Pickpocket Ensemble Commissioned Music: James Sizemore
Rock. Paper. Flock.
Dancers: Brynne Billingsley, Chris Elam, Luke Gutgsell, Jennifer Harmer, Coco Karol, Dorian Nuskind-Oder. Special appearances by Jenny Campbell and Val Loukiano
Costumes: Liz Prince and Kaibrina Sky Buck
Music: Baby Einstein, Ennio Morricone
Commissioned Music: Andy Teirstein
Zipper Dancers: Brynne Billingsley, Chris Elam, Luke Gutgsell, Jennifer Harmer, Coco Karol, Dorian Nuskind-Oder Costumes: Liz Prince Commissioned Music: Evan Ziporyn (Dec 4th – 7th music performed live by the Real Quiet ensemble)
Choreographer's Notes: BEING TOGETHER is comprised of three independent pieces, with each exploring the idea of togetherness from different conceptual and compositional perspectives. It is my hope that the pieces provide space to reflect on the ways that we see, think, and feel about the literal and abstract ways that people are with one another. I love how dance as an art form opens itself to many readings, and I truly enjoy hearing the range of impacts, interpretations, and experiences that individual audience members take away from a performance. The notes I offer below are an inlet into some of my thoughts on the works, but should by no means supercede your own.
TOO LATE TULIP For me Too Late Tulip is almost a choreographic haiku. The piece layers moments in time to convey journeys through relationships, love, the environment, and parenthood. The delicate structure of the piece repeats itself, but brings new information in its retelling. Suggestions of story can bring us through the piece, but there is ample space for a wide range of interpretations.
ROCK. PAPER. FLOCK. Portions of Rock. Paper. Flock. are made anew each night by the dancers, with coaching from their choreographer. The piece blends a few processes, including a real-time creative process that we sometimes use in the development of new choreography. In this piece a heightened energy is set in the rehearsal studio as the dancers “perform” with my coaching, even though they don’t know what comes next. One of our goals is to relay clarity and ownership of our actions as we generate a progression of exceptional physical interactions. What allows us as choreographers and dancers to identify and capture a poignant moment? In Rock. Paper. Flock. I aim to discover and shape some “aha” moments in front of you. I hope to let you see the work as I’m seeing it, at the moment I am discovering it, and then witness me enhance, or sometimes accidentally destroy, a rich interaction. I often enter the studio with hours of prepared choreography, but ultimately this is just a starting point for what happens in the moments of seeing and articulating, as I shape the work in response to the delicate human energies in the room. The dance artists you see before you – their lives, their personalities – seep into the art, as do my own, such that in some ways, the art and the artists are inseparable. Rock. Paper. Flock. explores this explicitly. And it changes – I encourage you to check our website on Dec 14th when we do a live streaming of that night’s show. You’ll see a different version of Rock. Paper. Flock., see what is consistent, what changed, and how this impacts the work.
ZIPPER I experience Zipper as both an inter-personal journey, (six people handling togetherness, separation, alliances, leadership, loss of power) and as a delicately abstract terrain in which micro-stories play a secondary role to a larger momentum of shapes and patterns through time. I’m interested in the space where humanness and abstraction converge and inform one another. Zipper exerts an environmental power and largeness that drive the dancers through catastrophic tremors as well as soft moments. These evolutions dwarf the individuals as the group is shaped by its environment. I envision the work on a geological time scale, capturing human reactions within a landscape that none of the dancers truly own. Little stories might wash up on a shore only to recede into the unfolding momentum of the work. As is true in our own lives, we don’t always know who or where we are, but we are fundamentally earnest in our moment-to-moment perceptions and intensions. On a movement level, throughout Zipper there is an ongoing construction and destruction of physical phrases, material re-surfaces, becomes appropriated by another, is destroyed and yet edges back in unexpectedly to take on a different meaning. One of the fascinating aspects of dance is that the art is mapped directly onto the artist. Humans tend to project meaning onto people, so a question that we as choreographers may ask is to what degree can a person on the stage dissolve from a biological entity into a pure abstraction? Zipper unfolds within the contradictions of this problem.