This week, Choreographers Corner takes a look into the process of Company dancer and first time Trolley choreographer Kyle Sorensen. Kyle has been dancing with SDDT for just over a year, but has been making an impression on the dance community for much longer. He is scheduled to leave for Israel as soon as Trolley Dances ends to study contemporary dance, folk dance, and choreographic processes on Fullbright Fellowship! Don’t miss your chance to see his first Trolley piece before he goes abroad!
Kyle Sorensen, an MFA graduate from UCSD, has been making dances for over 15 years. His work emphasizes collaborative processes, dynamic physicality, and embodied presence, and has been exhibited and awarded special honors in both national and international venues, including the Tanzsommer Festival in Austria. He has danced professionally in Los Angeles, Oregon, Washington, and San Diego for choreographers including Yolande Snaith, Joe Alter, Jean Isaacs, Elfi Schaefer-Schafroth, and Alicia Peterson Baskel, as well as performed in works by Tere O’Connor, Susan Marshall, and Gabe Masson. Kyle has studied the Gaga technique developed by Ohad Naharin of the Batsheva Dance Company, as well as choreographic practices with Tere O’Connor, Bebe Miller, K.J. Holmes, and Nina Martin, and dance-for-the-camera with Ellen Bromberg. He currently teaches dance at San Diego State University and San Diego City College.
What excites you as a choreographer about working on Trolley Dances?
Trolley Dances allows for a different demographic of people to witness dance. It encourages people to get outdoors in our beautiful city, and it introduces audiences to areas of San Diego that they might not have realized even existed. These are all very exciting to me.
What is exciting about site-specific choreography to you?
It seems to me that when we say “site-specific” dance what we really mean is taking dance out of a more “traditional” context (proscenium stage, theatrical lighting, a higher degree of control over the audience’s experience). I am excited about this shift in context because it often causes us to renegotiate our beliefs and definitions. Do we need to have a proscenium stage in order to see and appreciate dance? Do we need any of those traditional models to remain in place? Secondly, by taking dance out of the theater and into the everyday spaces we inhabit as humans, we are making dance more accessible to a wider variety of people. We’re showing that dance doesn’t have to be something fragile and accessible only to the elite, but rather that it is durable, something that can be a part of everyday life.
What drew you to the site that you chose?
I. Love. Libraries. A place where you can educate yourself on practically any imaginable topic that might possibly interest you, FOR FREE? Oh yes, I love libraries. Other than my immediate affinity for libraries themselves, I also recognized a resonant theme between libraries and my current choreographic interests. Libraries store multiple stories in a single place. The same is true of humans, we store multiple stories in a single place…our bodies. Additionally, having an opportunity to be the first group of performing artists to perform at the brand new Central Public Library is an honor that I couldn’t pass up.
What is challenging about this work? For you? For the dancers?
For me, one of the challenges in this work is finding a way to empower the dancers to bring their individual interests and stories to the forefront of the work while still trying to find something cohesive for the group to explore. Also, working in a brand new space that has unique architectural features provides the dancers and I a special opportunity to find new movement patterns that address the space without feeling like we are limited by it.
What themes are you exploring while creating your new piece?
At this point in the process it might be easier to ask the question,”What themes are you NOT exploring?”
What would you like audiences to know about your piece coming into Trolley Dances?
1) Much like the library, there are multiple stories existing simultaneously in every single moment. 2) The choreography is less like a linear narrative, and more like poetry. By this I mean that the choreography aims to present visual images in a collage like fashion that, when gathered together and looked at as a whole, allows for a wide variety of possible interpretations to emerge.
Where do you find your inspiration for new work?
The quick answer is: Anywhere I can find it. The longer answer is, I look for inspiration everywhere. A tiny sampling of inspirations we have played with in our rehearsal process thus far includes: Kelp in ocean currents, jellyfish, karate, parkour, luxurious fabrics, the psychology of perceived boundaries, distributed cognition, writing in 3-dimensional space, and many more.
What is your favorite part of the choreographic process?
My two favorite parts of the choreographic process involve, 1) the moment when a dancer consciously steps outside of their comfort zone and finds something valuable that they did not think was within themselves, and 2) when an audience member has a strong visceral reaction to the work and wants to excitedly talk to me about it.
To check out Kyle’s work and hop on board for all of the other Trolley Dances excitement, please visit http://sandiegodancetheater.org/trolleydances2013.html to purchase tickets.