Talk Dance is a podcast series devoted to in-depth conversations with dance artists produced and hosted by local dancer, educator, and commentator Justin Jones. In this installment, Jones speaks with New York choreographer Tere O’Connor, whose work BLEED will be performed at the Walker March 19-21. You can find the podcast on the Walker Channel.
The latest episode of Talk Dance is built around an error. I was a bit flustered and nervous at the beginning of my interview with choreographer Tere O’ Connor and forgot to push the big, super-important, red RECORD button on my Skype recorder. Luckily, I had a second mode of recording going, just in case anything were to go wrong, which it did. However that recorder only captured Tere’s voice and not mine. So, rather than re-record myself asking the questions, I decided to edit the audio I had to sound like a monologue.
As I’ve listened and relistened to this podcast (about 12 minutes of very compelling thinking about dance, a life in dance and the making of BLEED) I’ve come to love the way it mirrors my experience of watching Tere’s dances. From the first moment, I find myself in a highly constructed world where ideas are born and disintegrate in heartbeats, where landscapes become seascapes become portraits become abstract expressionisms become cathedrals and I can’t quite get my footing and I can’t catch my breath and I’m loving every minute of it. Yes, I’m a huge fan. That’s why I forgot to press record. So, I wanted the listening to be like the watching, that from the get go, you were, as Tere said in our interview, “aswim in what’s already gone by … and sifting through that as it goes forward.”
Tere spoke brilliantly about a ton of stuff and I cut quite a bit of the interview (from 45 minutes to 12), so there’s a lot of great material on the cutting room floor. Three (of many) bits I decided not to include were discussions of cooking (and its relationship to dance-making), Tere’s long time collaborations with composer James Baker, and some thoughts about the evolution of his choreographic practice. Here’s a taste:
ON COOKING: “You know, pepper … has all this deep background, that I can both sense and have also read about. It’s the same way I look at history referenced in my work. I’m not doing a critique of that, they’re just all there blended together creating this other thing and that kind of alchemy is really interesting to me in both cooking and in choreography definitely. There are connections there for me. And they’re very deep.”
ON COLLABORATIONS: “It might be interesting for people to know that I make my dances in silence and then the music comes later. And James and I think a lot about what should be the tone what should be the instrumentation, what should be the chord progression over the whole piece, should it be resolved or not … the way that tone and quality of music kind of finish out the work, its really braided between us and he’s a huge part of my voice.
ON HIS PRACTICE: “…at this point it’s like trying to … use the things that are coming from my practice – all the instability that is inside of a practice and the kind of relationship of doubt to certainty that is inside of a practice. And I don’t want to have a practice that says, ‘I’m fixing that and denying that,’ I want to have a practice that says, ‘I’m including that.’… And since I’ve decided to stay in this form, and not go into a commercial area, I want to really be a commercial, I don’t want deal with product production.”
There’s so much more to chew on in the podcast, and it illuminates not just aspects of Tere’s work, but dance in general. Take a listen and make your friend who says “I don’t get dance” listen to it too–then take them to see BLEED. I truly enjoyed talking to Tere about his work, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing BLEED at the McGuire. And, as my end of the conversation evaporated into the ether, I’d like to personally/publicly thank Tere again for taking some time to talk with me.
Head over to the Walker Channel to listen to the podcast with Tere O’Connor.
BLEED will be performed at the Walker’s McGuire Theater Thursday–Saturday, March 19-21, 2015 at 8 pm. Tere O’Connor will also teach a Master Class at 11 am on Saturday, March 21 in the McGuire Theater.