Q & A with Stephanie Martinez

Stephanie Trio

Chicago choreographer Stephanie Martinez is much in demand—many people have said her "star is on the rise," including Dance Magazine. For Dance Kaleidoscope's performances of Dance is a Contact Sport (June 1-4 at IRT), Stephanie has created a marvelous dance/theater piece that has taken both her and the DK dancers out of their comfort zones.

In ten words or less, how would you describe your new piece?
A look into the sports world told through an abstract point of view.

Stu Mariel Steph whiteWhere did the idea for your new piece come from?
The idea came from my first time in Indy when I was creating on the company. I was walking around downtown before my  premier and was struck by the passion and enthusiasm the fans had for their sports teams. I feel that way about dance and thought what a great opportunity it would be to merge them both together.

Did you and your assistants work on the piece before traveling to Indianapolis?
Yes, my assistants and I did quite a bit of pre-prep and research before we came to DK. This is not an ordinary ballet. It took months to conceptualize a clear idea and the music design was a whole other beast to tackle. The movement vocabulary also needed to be created beforehand.

How much did your vision for the piece change once you were in the DK studio?
As far as the work and my vision, I really allow for any new creation to take true shape in the room. We plan but allow things to unfold. That’s the magic of process. The work actually evolved and exceeded my expectations.

How would you describe the DK dancers?
The DK dancers are incredible people and artists. They truly can take ideas, material, and concepts and bring them to life. This was not an easy subject because it could have been perceived as literal and perhaps a bit corny. I really wanted the dancers to amplify the love of sports through a fans eye and they embraced the challenge, evolving in front of my eyes.

What was most surprising from your time in the studio, creating this piece on DK?Marie Cody sm
The most surprising thing that came out of this process was finding out how much personality the dancers have individually and as a group. They were incredibly open to new ideas, unafraid to make mistakes, and able to laugh at themselves when beautiful mistakes did happen. The fun and energetic ballet you are about to see is a direct result of the willingness and playfulness they had with me in the room.
 
What’s next for you?
I will be spending time at home in Chicago preparing for my upcoming commisions for Ballet Memphis, Cincinnati Ballet, Dallas Black Dance Theater, Charlotte Ballet, and a world-premier for the Joffrey Ballet.

Get Tickets to see Stephanie's new piece for DK here.

Black and white photos by Chris Crawl, color photos by Freddie Kelvin.

Designing DIVAS Costumes

Costume designer Guy Clark has designed several sets of costumes for DK. His current project is designing and overseeing the build on a splashy new set of costumes for DIVAS (Feb 9-12 at IRT). Get tickets with this link or call 317-635-5252.

Q: What was your inspiration for these two sets of costumes?
A: My inspiration comes from a variety of sources -the music, the dancers, and the choreographers. The individual looks of Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin certainly inspired me as I was designing -not necessarily to design pieces they might have worn, but to bring a bit of the personal style of each of them to the pieces.
 
Q: Please tell us about the hand dying that your costume shop has done for DIVAS. 
A: The dying is a combination of vat-dipped ombre and old-fashioned tie-dye. Each piece is unique, created  by Jessica Hayes and Stephanie Eubank, the very talented drapers at Indiana Repertory Theatre, with the skilled assistance of the IRT costume shop staff -Christi Parker, Kelsey Sikes, and Judith Skyles. We've also had great help from our new intern, Butler student Laura Scobell, and local fashion legend (and former IRT costume shop draper) Catherine Fritsch.

Codys costume

Q: Did you listen to any of the music that would be used in the show as you designed?
A: I always find the music a great source of inspiration while I'm designing for DK. I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, so I was already very familiar with their music.

Q: You've designed for most of the DK dancers before. Were you at all inspired by their personalities or the way they dance?
A: The DK dancers have taught me so much about the very practical aspects of designing for dance, as have David and Nick. Watching how each dancer moves, as well as how the troupemoves together, helps me imagine costumes that I hope will be appealing on each dancer and have a cohesion of design.
 
Jill Janis costume
Q: The design for Jillian Godwin in the Janis Joplin piece is more elaborate than the others. Tell us about your creative process and intent for that costume. 
A: Jill's costume came out of discussions with her andchoreographer David Hochoy. For her solo piece, I imagined Jill's look as more a character from the song "Me & Bobby McGee" than as a Janis Joplin costume. 
 
Q: The silhouettes and fabrics for both the boys and girls' costumes in the Aretha Franklin piece are inventive. Please tell us about the inspiration and desired feel for them. 
A: The Aretha pieces developed from conversations with the choreographer, Nick Owens. We were working to bring movement into the costumes. The fabric we chose is a lightweight stretch  net that Ihope reflectsthe elegant sensuality of Ms. Franklin's voice.
 

 

Dancing Outside DK

DK dancers Phillip Crawshaw, Jillian Godwin and Stuart Coleman are appearing in performances with other companies this summer. We wanted to catch up with them to hear how their expereinces there are going.

Artistic Director David Hochoy says, "DK dancers are known for their versatility and their ability to seem at home in a number of different styles of dance. Audience members are constantly saying to me, 'I didn't know they were such good actors!' It's healthy for our dancers to venture into new explorations of their talent and artistry, so I encourage them to pursue these opportunities. There is indeed no limit to the ever-expanding well of creativity and expression that dwells in all of us."

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Meet the DK Dancers - Video

The DK dancers have passion and dedication for dance and Dance Kaleidoscope. In this video by WFYI Productions, the dancers voice their feelings about dance while dancing in urban areas around Indianapolis.

brandon video

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October 2016

Q & A with Phillip Crawshaw

May 17, 2016
Phillip Crawshaw QA

Why do you dance?
Dance is not only physically demanding, but incorporating the emotion and spirit of the dance is challenging, yet so rewarding. Although I love to talk, words never come easy to me. Dance allows me to communicate through my body. I have tried stepping away from dance a few times, but I have always returned to dance. Sometimes being away from something, you realize how much love and passion you have for it.

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