sugar space

regina rocke asks questions to ashley anderson.
April 24, 2010, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Choreographers Regina Rocke and Ashley Anderson  of In & Out ask each other some questions as they plan their May showing together. This interview contains some explicit language so if you mind that you probably shouldn’t read it.

Also after you read this interview if you want to check out videos of Regina and Ashley’s past projects you can visit these three sites
youtube channel: ashleyandersondances

Ashley asks Regina….
Where did you grow up and what kinds of dance classes did you take?
I grew up in Texas and began dancing at age 3.  My mom put me in ballet class in order to get me to focus all of my energy.  I was pretty active.  I still am in certain ways… I stuck with it.  Eventually I started taking tap, jazz, hip-hop etc.  I’ve taken theater classes and a little bit of gymnastics.  I have always liked ballet and jazz.  Those two I have stuck with even now I do ballet and jazz dances in rehearsal and my work always has a dance number or two.  I never liked tap. NEVER.  I want to move my entire body; not just focus on the feet. Rhythm, musicality etc.- those things have never really interested me.  I like to turn on the music and dance. That’s it. Nothing deep about it. I like pop music.  I like lady gaga and beyonce, madonna, rihanna.  I like to turn on the music and move. Very deep, theoretical, philosophical approaches to movement really don’t interest me.  It takes a lot of effort for me to get into those ways of thinking about dance.  I’m very literal.  My work is literal.  I don’t deal well with abstraction or esoteric -philosophy- of -movement-type thinking.  Everything is what it is.  Very obvious and to the point.  My work reflects that in my personality.
When you got your MFA and started making work how did your interests change?
Well since I have such a technical dance background I thought I wanted to make very “dancy” technical work.  But as soon as the MFA program began I realized that it wasn’t working for me.  There were all of these topics I wanted to address: abuse against women, feminist critique, abuse and hatred of homosexuals, rape, incest, war, poverty… that I just couldn’t seem to get across using movement.  I struggled with this for the entire program (one year).  I was happy with my thesis but I knew it was only scratching the surface.  I had spent a year investigating myself as a choreographer and although I accomplished a great deal, I knew that the real works was only beginning.  I moved back to NYC in 2006 and things just sort of took of from there.  I had a few shows lined up almost immediately and I continued to work on what it was I was trying to convey to the viewer: all of the horrible and insane things human beings are capable of.
Describe some work you like.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2007 when I saw the performance artist Karen Finley perform in Boston that I finally had a revelation.  She was THE most intense performer I had ever encountered.  She isn’t a dancer or choreographer.  She just gets up in front of the audience and just starts speaking.  She tells stories.  She did three pieces that night.  One about war, another about Barbara Bush but the REAL amazing one was this text she did on the euthanized woman Terri Schiavo from a few years ago.  The piece was called “The Passion of Terri Schiavo.”  I swear she said the name Terri probably 500 times that night.  Karen Finley is simply INTENSE.  She does not hold back at all and you feel like you have been hit by a truck by the time you leave the theater.  After seeing that performance I knew immediately the kind of work I wanted to perform. I knew how I wanted to address the audience.  I went back to NY and started performing edgier, text-based work. The response was good.  People were into it.  The biggest issue that has been hard to understand is audience reaction.  People often laugh.  I really don’t think any of it is funny.  I don’t really think it’s very serious though either.  The stuff that the audience laughs at always surprises me.  I’ll say something about recycling or something and I’m just being honest but I’ll get roars of laughter and I’m thinking that is the TRUTH!! I mean, quit throwing fucking plastic bags in the trash!!  I said that in a piece once.  I told the audience if I see one more plastic bag in the trash can at my house that my roommate has thrown in there I’m going to rip her fucking face off.  I didn’t mean it of course.  I was more annoyed than anything else and the audeince just started laughing.  I didn’t think it was funny. It’s true.  Just recycle that shit. I mean come on…  But that’s how my work is.  I observe a lot.  I take the train, I bike around town, I hang out with my friends and simply observe daily life.  Anything that stands out makes it into a piece eventually.
Why do you think Sugar Space is a good place to show your work?
Well I’m mostly looking forward to some HEAT AND SUN!!!  Wide open space and nice weather.  And I come from a pretty small town in Texas.  I know what it’s like to not see much variety in the way of dance/art.  I like variety and surprises so I am looking forward to bringing that to Utah.  I think people who like a bit of an edge and outrageousness to their art will like the show
Regina asks Ashley…..
What is your dance background? How did you get started in dance?
I started dancing at age three in a community center where the Virginia Tanner Dance program had a satellite studio. So I did the creative dance with ribbons and stories and visual art thing and in that way was always encouraged to be imaginative. I  continued studying in other studios but finishing the Virginia Tanner program and entering the Children’s Dance Theatre was the foundation of my training.

You went to Hollins for a dance degree. What made you want to go there? Was it important you went to school for a degree?
I didn’t actually go to Hollins for a dance degree for certain. I wanted to go there because I wanted to get out of town  and I knew some people who went to the American Dance Festival where Donna Faye (the director of the Hollins program) is also the dean. Hollins also sent me info about their English program. It was important I went to college because I wasn’t even really sure about dance and I knew I could keep dancing at Hollins while exploring other things, I thought I might go to law school when I entered college. Hilarious.

People often talk about New York as being the quintessential city for dance. As if you aren’t really “legit” unless you’ve lived there and danced/made work. What do you think?
I think there is some truth to the legitimacy of New York because New York is an extremely hard place to work and live and can be a test for how hard someone will work. And I never lived in the city limits, just traveled in and out. But I can tell you this. There are people everywhere saying they are dancers and choreographers and some of them work really hard and break new ground and some people do stuff that doesn’t seem that challenging or relevant. It doesn’t have so much to do with where they live as how hard they are working and who they have found to work with. The only difference is there are more people in New York so it’s sometimes easier to find and maintain a community.

How about funding? Why is dance so under-appreciated in general. I don’t think people realize how little money there is for us.
Yeah there is none. I mean there is a lot if you know the right places and are bureaucratic and have advisors. But the problem with money is they always want dance to be something other than what it is. They want you to know a certain kind and teach it to a specific population or do your dance in a way that benefits the community in ways that your dancing might not (like making a dance to solve a very specific social problem). That kind of reasoning assumes that simply viewing dance isn’t a community act. Furthermore, restricting it’s subject matter to the language of current events limits imaginative thinking. Not to mention that dance is a visual and performed thing so a lot of the time people who are really good at writing the grants are actually not so awesome at making dances. I get really heated about this. This is a bad explanation.

Describe your work.
The work I’m presenting in this show is called “dear old familiar” and I made it in the summer of 2008 and have shown it several times. It highlights the part of my process that is methodical and also sparse. I’m not describing it very well. But basically my work is abstract and it’s contemplative. At least in this case.

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