Another installment in our series on choreography…we are talking with choreographers from The Dance COLEctive about their process and today we have Shannon McGuire. Her piece focuses on the subjective and intuitive sense of knowing where one belongs. “Is there a sensation or a recognition in a circumstance that one finds the need to exist in a certain place? Is this place geographical, ideological or social?”
1. How did the idea for this piece come about?
The concept of the piece really came from a personal questioning. I spent my childhood in the country of a small town, At the age of twelve I moved with my mom to Chicago. I finished growing up in and out of the city, spending every other weekend with my dad in the country, and school in the city. The lack of being fully grounded in either of the extreme environments caused a confusion that plagued me for years. Each year that passes by I ask myself the challenging question of where I belong or where I need to be.
2. What did you do with the dancers to explore this concept?
I was initially interested in what “belonging” meant to the dancers. There were various responses and we explored the possibilities through conversations and writings. We discussed how we know we are at a place where we belong. The movement came from personal experiences and emotions relating to the topic.
Later I became very interested in the other end of things. When don’t we belong? There was a much more intense response from this. So I began to play with both ideas. I sort of took both sides and figured out how to make that journey from not belonging to finding a place belonging.
3. How did that translate into the choreography?
The dancers generated most of their material from personal experiences and points of views. I asked them to be as intuitive as possible at times when choosing a direction or place in space. There is an obvious change of quality in the dance at different times. I play a lot with the feeling of belonging and not belonging. The structure of the piece directly relates to my personal experience, while the content is very personal to the dancers.
4. What was the biggest challenge for you in doing this piece?
The biggest challenge was finding a medium. I played with both ideas of belonging and not belonging. However, I really wanted to find what happened when both concepts are introduced. How does one find their way to a content place of belonging when feeling out of place for so long? How do they know that they found that place? The answer really came the more we played with the material. I really needed to find the answers through the dance making process.
5. What did you enjoy most about this process?
I most enjoyed the freedom to discover. I really went into the process not knowing the answer to my question. It was a chance for me to really dig in deep to find some resolution. This is my first time exploring a concept that directly relates to me and my experiences. I had help from four beautiful dancers and friends to help me find answers as well as ask more questions. Entering the process without the answers and later seeing the result unfold gave me perspective on my inner conflict.
BIO: Shannon McGuire graduated with a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. While at Columbia, she performed choreography by Twyla Tharp, Paige Cunningham, and Matthew Hollis. Shannon enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for dance with children at local studios. She was recently a member of MaryAnn McGovern and Dancers and has performed in numerous independent projects and dance showcases throughout Chicago. Shannon is thrilled to be dancing her third season with The Dance COLEctive.