If you’ve been following this series, you know that we have been interviewing different company members from The Dance COLEctive who are choreographing pieces for “COLEctive Notions 2012” – a Chicago-area show coming up in May. Today we’ll hear from Molly Grimm-Leasure–
Molly’s idea had to do with the thought that people may see the same piece of art differently. She comments, “Does it change your original thought to hear someone else’s idea? Or does it add another layer of understanding?” As she creates her work, she is having dancers view, write and move using her personal, abstract paintings to guide them through their own interpretations of what she originally saw before the brush touched the paint.
Here are some of her thoughts on the process…
What gave you the idea for this piece?
Recently I needed a new outlet to control some aggression I was feeling. I had always wanted to learn how to paint so I went to Michaels and bought a bunch of supplies. It became more of a passion and love–with the bonus side of being an outlet. I would put music on and make a mess with my paints! I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. Painting made me feel so free and open to anything. This is how I feel when I dance, so why not make a dance from some of my paintings!
What was the process like of creating this work?
Once I was able to pick out the paintings I wanted to use; five of them, I had the dancers write what they saw without me giving them any information. Then I told them the titles of the paintings and had them write if it changed what they saw. From there they created phrases for each painting; needless to say we ended up with a lot of material!
How did the dancers help inform the piece?
Hearing their interpretations of the paintings was really neat and informative of how to proceed. All the material you will see is all their own! If I got stuck at any point, or if I saw something not working out, I would ask the dancers. They are the ones performing, so I want them to feel as comfortable as possible, even if that means changing a few things around to make that happen.
Were there any surprises as you worked on the choreography?
I was surprised at how I pieced together the material. I started piecing movement and phrases together as if I was painting. It was hard because I would find myself working and re-working a certain section until I saw what I wanted. Even then I may go back and add something else. What I enjoyed was that I had the ability to erase a part I didn’t like instead of finding a color to cover it.
In the end, did you learn anything about your own paintings?
I saw them differently based on the ideas and images the dancers had. It opened my mind to see not only what I was painting but other images too.
If you were to do this again, would you go about it the same way, or would you change something?
I wouldn’t use five paintings!! Having so much material I had to cut out some, as it became overwhelming! The piece probably could’ve been closer to 20 mins if I used everything that I had!
BIO: Molly Grimm-Leasure is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago, where she obtained a BFA in Dance Choreography. While at Columbia, she was a featured dancer in Dance Spirit Magazine, which tracked her professional and scholastic achievements and reported what life was like to be a dance major. Molly was one of three dancers in the United States chosen for this opportunity. Molly has been with The Dance COLEctive since 2002 and has also worked with Breakbone Dance Co. under the direction of Atalee Judy. In2006, Molly performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Chicago Gay Games under the choreographic direction of Joel Hall and Kevin Iega Jeff. More recently, Molly has choreographed for Stagg High School’s Orchesis program and was involved in choreographing and helping to produce a series of videos for International Women’s Day. These videos were shown on Accenture’s website. For the past two years her choreography has also been featured in The Dance COLEctive’s, COLEctive Notions. On occasion, she will teach modern classes during The Dance COLEctive’s Open Company Class. Molly also works as a full-time massage therapist in the Chicago area. Molly would like to give special thanks to her husband, Zak, and her parents for their love and support as she continues to follow her dreams.