“Dances of Love, Laughter & Loss”- About “Pillow: Case” with Jean Isaacs

Dances of Love, Laughter & Loss will be hitting the Weiss Theatre on January 16-18, and it is going to be quite the program! The SDDT company will be performing a re-staged work of Jean’s from 2003 called “Atlantic Man,” and alongside it, a new work they have been creating with Jean called “Pillow: Case.” The dance was inspired by a linen closet full of Jean’s 45-year-old pillow cases, and with text to accompany it by Meagan Marshall, the piece tells great stories. Jean has shared some insight into this new, humorous work that is sure to leave you smiling!
10341766_573080379473933_697320457255576916_nWhat was the initial inspiration for this new work?
I have to say that the very first thought is how to balance a program in terms of tone and energy. Having known that we were going to do “Atlantic Man” that is a starkly beautiful work my thought was to do something that tickles peoples funny bones and was light-hearted. Keeping in a theme of dance related to text, I questioned who I could use that could create stories that would inspire dance work. A simple answer was to get rid of these 50 year old pillow cases that were hogging room in my linen closet.
Tell us about your collaboration with Meagan Marshall.
Meagan was my student in her undergraduate years at UCSD. An excellent dancer, she also shared with me at that time her gift for creative writing, particularly as it related to a traumatic experience in her teen years. I watched as she developed her education and career in creative writing and I have known for years that I wanted to work with her at some point.
How have your memories of the past influenced the energy of these dances?
90% of the stories in Pillow:Case are auto-biographical and shaped by memories that themselves have been distorted by the passage of time. Also, Meagan resourcefully took and ran with many of the narratives that I shared with her. She’s embellished them to the point that I no longer know what happened and what did not. And, does it really matter?
How does the spoken text play into the performance of the piece?
Meagan Marshall and Justin Hudnall (of So Say We All) will be performing the spoken parts live. I am not a big fan of dancers speaking on stage while performing. They lack vocal training and end up breathless. And, text goes a very long way when accompanied by movement. But, used sparsely, text can provide 1.) a rhythmic basis for movement 2.) punctuation at the end of a sentence 3.) onomatopoeic…go look it up…inspiration and 4.) (most popular choice)a literal/visual imaging of the text.
What has been your approach for choreographing Pillow: Case?
It has been very collaborative. So, in a few of the dances, I’ve created every single step. But, in most I’ve thrown out the ideas, absorbed the dancers improvised interpretation of these ideas, and created together with them a vocabulary and structure in which to house these stories.

10704434_693547904093846_7190190415533170189_oJean and the dancers are exited to share “Pillow: Case” with you, along with “Atlantic Man” on January 16th, 17th, and 18h at the Weiss Theatre. The distinctly different halves of this show come together to create a fun and profound experience; see you there!

Click to purchase tickets: sddtlovelaughterloss.brownpapertickets.com

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