MN Original put together a great video preview of Choreographers’ Evening this Saturday, which includes footage of an interview with Choreographers’ Evening 2010 Curator, Susana di Palma. Here’s the longer interview with Allison Herrera:
You can’t claim to be an expert on dance in the Twin Cities without seeing a performance by Susana di Palma and her company Zorongo Flamenco. She remembers her first encounter with the art form in Spain. The year was 1968 when Francisco Franco still ran the show over there. “I never looked back!” she said after walking out of a class in Madrid. Since then, she has formed Zorongo Flamenco in Minneapolis , performed in hundreds of shows, and has produced over thirty theater works that have tackled complex social issues through the riotous lens of Flamenco. They include Tales of the Black Legend in 2005, Manton in 2003, and the very memorable Garden of Names in 1996 about torture in Argentina during the Dirty War.
I should mention that I have taken many a Flamenco class with Susana, where she has patiently explained the driving elements of Flamenco with grace and humility. When I tell people about her class, I always mention her walking around (with her obligatory cane to keep us all in compas) telling us to, “LIFT UP, LIFT!”
This is her first stint as the curator for the 38th annual Choreographers’ Evening. I got a chance to talk with her about what we can expect in this exciting night of dance.
Allison Herrera: A lot of the dancers and choreographers I spoke with prior to audition said that being in Choreographers’ Evening at the Walker is exciting because it gave them exposure to audiences beyond who comes out to see a particular kind of dance. Why do you think local choreographers want to be part of CE at the Walker?
Susana di Palma: I would agree. It’s a chance for people to show their work to new audiences, audiences that normally might not experience a particular kind of dance. It’s a treat for the audience too. A chance to try a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I was so amazed by the quality of work and the dancers that auditioned. The variety and spectrum was outstanding. Those who are just beginning have a wonderful freshness as well as those who are more accomplished like James Sewell and Carl Flink. There is also the prestige of performing at the Walker. To many, it’s the focal point of the whole year in dance. It’s also a tradition that goes along with the beginning of the holidays.
AH: What kind of evening were you trying to create when you curated this year’s CE?
SDP: At first, I had this idea of New Voices/Old World. I wanted to expose audiences to a lot of world dance and ethnic dance because many people don’t see a lot of that. And certainly there is that element in this year’s performance with Paulina Brenner and Curio Dance, among others. But, there were 56 incredible pieces to choose from and I had to narrow that down to 13. The evening became a collection and I wanted audiences to see James Sewell and the new Carl Flink piece. So it became new voices and old pros. I also wanted the evening to be celebratory. It should excite people to want to go and see more dance. In the end, it shouldn’t just be about what the curator likes and wants, but what makes for a complete evening, a complete experience.
AH: You’ve been in Choreographers’ Evening as a dancer, and you’ve also been in the audience for many, including the first one. What are some memorable experiences?
SDP: I do remember dancing in a student of mine’s piece, Sachiko Nishiuchi. It was a lot of fun. That was the year that Sandy Agustin curated CE. It was a very diverse evening of dance and a lot of live music. You had a lot of different types of dance. It felt almost like an old fashioned variety show. Very fun! I also remember in the old days (laughs) seeing Judith Brin Ingber perform and a young John Munger. To come full circle, John is in this year’s show doing a piece he performed at the Fringe Festival. There were certainly moments when I thought, “Oh my GOD!” at some pieces. But, that is what makes this evening so great. It’s always different.
Allison Herrera is a journalist and the communications coordinator for the new arts weekly on tpt called MN Original.