New York Dance Up Close:"Way In" in Process with Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener
WAY IN at Danspace Project
131 E 10th St (St. Mark’s Church)
November 14-16, 8pm
At the end of September, The Dance Enthusiast had the opportunity to sit in on a rehearsal with Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. This early preview of their new work WAY IN, which will premiere at Danspace Project November 14–16, shed light on the pair’s unique collaborative relationship.
Mitchell and Riener first worked together as dancers in the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
“That was when a dialogue sparked about seeing dance, and loving dance, and making dance, and asking questions about dance. I think we were both interested in a lot of the same questions, and realized that we both had very different methods of answering those questions. So that seemed like a really fertile place to start,” said Mitchell.
A Way Into Way In : Methods of Collaboration
The two have been collaborating since 2009, creating works that range from traditional proscenium pieces to site-specific installations. For WAY IN, Mitchell and Riener are exploring ideas of collaboration, judgment, and taste. They are also challenging their relationship with observers in the audience.
“We did an earlier version of the piece in Miami where we had a fence that we were dancing inside of, and the audience had to look through this fence to see us,” said Mitchell. “There was something about being hemmed in and being observed from the outside that we’re trying to recreate in a conceptual way without the fence being there.”
How Riener and Mitchell Create Movement Scores
Riener and Mitchell are also collaborating with dance critic Claudia La Rocco and lighting designer Davison Scandrett. As part of their process, they have sought ways to create “staged moments” for these non-performers. On the day The Dance Enthusiast visited their rehearsal, Mitchell and Riener were experimenting with using buzzers as a sort of “reset button” during the dance. They were playing with giving La Rocco the power to hit the buzzer, forcing them to stop and start over.
A Dance Enthusiast Minute: Three Views of of Way In (with buzzers)
“The buzzer came out of this place of judgment and evaluation. In particular for Claudia, as someone who is seen as an arbiter in the community, we wanted to implicate her,” said Riener.
Discussion is an important part of the rehearsal process for these collaborators, and much of their material is generated through improvisation. As such, the work was undergoing constant change over the course of just one rehearsal period. The final product can be glimpsed exclusively at Danspace.
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