This week, curatorial advisor Anna Drozdowski interviews Red Thread co-choreographer Lisa Kraus with dancer Meg Foley, offering an inside peek into the creative development of both artist’s work.
Drozdowski: Why did you choose to sew several generations
together for this project? Lisa Kraus: It came up because I saw
how the Gee’s Bend quilters pass on their ways to daughters and nieces. Also,
if you ask what it means to be dancing as an older person, you end up
contrasting that with what it’s like dancing in your twenties or thirties. Meg,
Michele and Gabi are around the ages Eva, Vicky and I were when we first met.
It made sense to see how the two kinds of energy and ability and interest work
Tell me about the things you’ve learned from your younger contemporaries in this process.
Lisa: We’ve gone into using movement language you don’t usually associate with older people - moves from hip hop. Meg and I captured some of her improve and we’ve scored some sections around that quality. It’s segmented and small, interesting in contrast to all the flowing Brown-esque quality we know so well. Gabi is very offhand with her humor and her presence magnetizes me. I’m studying it. And Michele, who is delicate physically but has the capacity to be gargantuan and thrilling has us thinking about how you light fires and spark abandon…
That really goes for everyone. When the form of it was developed first by us older folks, we’re looking at how to have everybody be completely full and individual. In some spots we handed the form over to be crafted in a new way, like a quilt pattern made anew. Gabi, Michele and Meg have a working connection kind of like us older ones - they’ve been dancing together already in other pieces and have a great rapport.
Tell me about the things you’ve learned from Lisa and her contemporaries, and yours, in this process.
Meg Foley: I think Red Thread is an amazing study in collaborative art building. When we are in the studio, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen so to speak; we’ll run things multiple times just so that everyone can watch and then give their opinion about ways to craft it.
In light of the Local Dance History Project, what were you doing in 1980?
Lisa: 1980 was the year that ‘Opal Loop’ was made in the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Eva and Stephen Petronio and I were dancing with Trisha on muggy afternoons in Soho, making a piece to take place in a sculpture of fog. They are reviving it this year. I met Sally Silvers that year in a writing class that Simone Forti taught. We were both working on one-minute dances and decided to join forces [which led to some weird and quirky stuff and my first time performing at Danspace. NY was great at that moment, easier than now.] 1980 was also the first year I went to Holland and that connection’s been very important. We worked last summer in Arnhem; it’s offered a good artistic hothouse for me and for Eva too.
You and Lisa have been working together for a year now, what would she say about your collaboration? Meg: I think she’d say that our collaboration was about listening and being open and that it was a supportive process to enable the growth of Red Thread instead of being super pressured. I’d think she would say it was a playful but challenging process that was really about seeing what is and being open to play with new ideas and to the unknown and intuitive in art making.
What do you think Meg would say about your collaboration? Lisa: Meg and I have very intentionally tried to walk right on the line between what is your art and what is your life. It makes a different atmosphere in the studio. All of yourself is included all the time. That’s how the “kaffeeklatsch” section developed, through noticing the necessity to “unburden” before “doing” anything. Then shifting focus so the unburdening itself becomes the thing you pay attention to. Meg has told me that she appreciates researching together and having her contributions valued a lot. And I am happiest in the studio when I love someone’s way of dancing and thinking and I think Meg feels us working from that ground.
Describe your evolving multi-decade partnership with Eva & Vicky, as a haiku.
Lisa: It’s hard not to get corny but here goes-
Through birth and through death
My lifelong dancing sisters
Dance floor’s our true home
What is in your purse? Meg: Always - a pen, my journal, cell phone, cash/ID/etc, lip balm, (in the winter) hand moisturizer. Right now: all the above things plus a ridiculous number of pens, dance clothes, an extra shirt, The New Yorker, make up, gum, various pieces of fruit.