This is the second in a series of four interviews about COLEctive Notions – a concert program that will be presented in Chicago on November 1st, 2nd and 3rd. We are featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the choreographers that are involved, and today we have some thoughts from Shannon Edwards about what it was like to work on her piece…
Can you describe what your piece is about?
Chronicles of Nostalgia is about the deep, nostalgic memories of a specific person that creep into our thoughts at unexpected times. It is about missing someone without consciously knowing it. This piece chronicles three unique, nostalgic experiences. Emotional in their own way, these recounts happen sort of unwillingly. As in our own lives, memories can be avoided, abrupt, and uninvited. However, recounting the experience is almost always visceral.
I went into choreographing for COLEctive Notions this time willing to use spoken text. It was an avenue I had been eager to go down for quite some time now. I was willing to try it, throw it out if need be, or go with it. I found the use of text effective in setting the tone of my piece. I found it challenging at times. At times I found it interesting and fun. Now, I am not just choreographing a dance, but I am directing vocals and exploring different ways of delivering text. So this new tool brought an interesting new way of shaping the work.
How was Margi able to help you clarify and shape your vision for this piece?
Margi is incredibly open to our work. She comes in as an eager viewer, not judging or expecting anything. This is so important to me as an artist. The hardest thing about making work can be fulfilling expectations of others. Margi watches with a viewer’s eye, not a director’s eye. She notes what she saw, what she enjoyed, which parts resonated with her, and even what parts were confusing. I take what I need from that. If I have questions, I ask, and she honestly replies. If I need her suggestions, she is right there with honest input. I appreciate that honesty and openness about her. It always puts me in the right direction.
What was it like to work with the dancers?
It is always a pleasure to work with women who I have worked very intimately with for years. I love seeing what they come up with when I give them directions. It is so lovely to watch from the outside. The thing is, we (as dancers) have developed a deep partnering/group relationship over time. So I knew going into the work how these dancers would be at taking direction and developing relationships within Chronicles of Nostalgia. I had full faith in their ability to work intimately. And, more recently, we have had the pleasure of practicing our spoken text on stage. So I was pretty confident in these wonderful ladies since the beginning.
How is choreography different for you from dancing?
Choreographing is quite different and laboring. Choreography is a passion, and a thrill for me. However, it does not come easy. I spend a lot of time pondering, contemplating, and thinking intensely about every single step. Dancing is very natural and instinctual in my body. Although dancing is laborious in a physical way, and I do spend time thinking about intentions, I am intuitive about it. Choreographing is where I spend a lot of time answering my own questions, making sure that each step means exactly what I want it to mean, and second guessing (and then reassuring) each part of the dance.
Are you interested in doing something like this again?
I always have new ideas and interests that I would love to explore on the dance floor. So I am sure I will be doing this again when I have the opportunity.
Shannon Edwards graduated with a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. She was a member of MaryAnn McGovern and Dancers from 2009-2011. Shannon has recently performed in works by Liz Burritt, Pete Carpenter, Maggie Koller, and Stephanie Williams. Shannon recently co-founded Mongan Dance Academy in Evergreen Park. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for dance with children at other local studios, as well. Shannon is thrilled to be dancing her fifth season with The Dance COLEctive.