POSTCARD: Amanda Selwyn on Creating "Threads" for New York's Open Culture

POSTCARD: Amanda Selwyn on Creating "Threads" for New York's Open Culture

Published on June 9, 2021
Photo courtesy Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre

New York Open Culture presents Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre

Friday, June 11 at 6 p.m.

East 11th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue

More information HERE

I am currently working on a new work that will premiere in the spring of 2022. It is an evening-length piece entitled Threads. The piece is about unrolling and being sewn back together, tearing things apart, and examining the pieces. We just got into the studio again for the first time in 14 months, and we have been diving into phrase work, some partnering, core gesture phrases, and overall motifs. In my process, I like to linger in the movement vocabulary, exploring variations and passing movements between dancers, to let the movement lexicon begin to tell me where it wants to go next.

Like most dancers and choreographers, a lot of time was spent creating and dancing over zoom. Creating remotely and then bringing that material in the studio was surprising. Honestly, I went into the remote creation process with a super open mind and basically agreed that if none of the material worked, I could happily let it go. What I found, however, was quite different. The core phrase work we developed on Zoom was rich with emotion, complexity, and nuance. Once we got into the studio, there was a lot to unpack as it was difficult to create cohesion and clarity remotely. It was a great start to this new work, when we could do so little to work on zoom. There is nothing at all like being together in the studio in the creative process. This is the magic for me. This is a gift. This is the now.

Threads is very much a continuation of the dialogue that all of the works have with one another. I feel like I explore an idea in one piece, only to unearth the questions that would stimulate the next piece. Threads is an exploration of vulnerability as that, which holds us together, can break apart with such ease. It is an exploration of detachment, by recognizing our ability to break off and be torn away; it forces you to be open to change. For as one thread tears, we tie new knots and bind new connections. It is an ever-changing cobweb of connection. Ultimately, this piece speaks to where I am as an artist coming out of the year we have all experienced and looking forward to what is to come.

Against the backdrop of a woods in full greenery, a man lifts a woman who extends her leg highly to the side
Photo courtesy Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre

On Friday, June 11, will be dancing on East 11th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue as part of the city's Open Culture initiative. I am excited about the true accessibility and non-elitism that performing out in the streets brings. Our audience will be defined very much by who happens to be walking down the block (in addition to our supporters who come out explicitly to see us). I love working in the theater. I love the lighting, the intensity of the sound, all of it. But there will be an unmasked intimacy by just performing on the street that cannot be translated elsewhere.

This year has brought things into focus. It has connected me with gratitude. My collaborators and dancers are all such a gift and I am inspired by them every day. This year has forced us all to slow down a lot. And I, like every artist in NYC, do not do that often. I am now trying to keep that slowness even in the moments of juggling multiple projects and jobs and locations. I am trying to take that breath into my leadership and into my own creative process. Often, I find that the magical moments occur in the places in between, in the pause. I seek to create more space for those moments of magic.

We are aiming to present Threads at NYLA in the Spring of 2022 or be presented if that is an option available to us. With theaters just now planning their next steps forward, we do not have any concrete plans, and we are taking it one moment, one step, and one dance at a time.

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