Ballet Hispanico, Photo: Paula Lobo
Ballet Hispanico, Photo: Paula Lobo
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Bryn Cohn of Bryn Cohn and Artists Chats with The Dance Enthusiast

Bryn Cohn of Bryn Cohn and Artists Chats with The Dance Enthusiast
A. Nia Austin-Edwards (ANAE)/Follow @KwanzaaKid on Twitter

By A. Nia Austin-Edwards (ANAE)/Follow @KwanzaaKid on Twitter
View Profile | More From This Author

Published on December 5, 2013
Bryn Cohn - at Masada Photo by Erika Wolf

From Masada, to Betsey Johnson, to the Art Gallery -Dance Travels

Choreographer Bryn Cohn has been commissioned by artists across the country, including illustrious fashion designer Betsey Johnson. As she and her company prepare to share some of their newest creations at the Castle Fitzjohns Gallery - a home to the work of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, and so many more - The Dance Enthusiast took a moment to discuss her work, her company, and her sustainable practice.

The Dance Enthusiast  looks forward to joining Bryn Cohn and Artists for their Holiday Benefit
featuring three dance installations, tunes by a live DJ, open bar, visual art and an opportunity to connect to the thriving artistic community in New York City on WEDNESDAY, DECEMEBER 11th at 7pm at the Castle Fitzjohns Gallery (98 Orchard Street).
JOIN US and let us make merry and #getenthused!   
RSVP Through The Dance Enthusiast's MeetUp Group: by Clicking DancEnthusiast's NYC MeetUp Group

 

A. Nia Austin-Edwards for The Dance Enthusiast: Your art has taken you around the world. What would you say is your favorite place to dance?

Bryn Cohn: I will always cherish my experience in Israel. I grew up Jewish and it remains an important part of my life. Merging these two aspects of my identity, Judaism and dance, was a beautiful experience. Dance in Israel provides similar systems of technical training as we have here, yet I found the dancers’ approach to be navigated by a sense of risk and unbridled physical attack. The dancers move from sensation, from passion, from impulse.  It is a mesmerizing phenomenon to watch and engage in, a method to move without judgment that I continue to integrate into my work.  

This past summer I returned after three years. I climbed Masada at 4:30am to watch the sun rise and heard Middle Eastern tunes and rhythms emanating from across the mountain. I sprinted towards them to find a drum circle and proceeded to improvise beside them until the sun emerged, intoxicated by the glory and surrealism of this sacred moment.  

TDE: Your company is called Bryn Cohn and Artists, why and Artists and not The Bryn Cohn Dance Company?

BC: When I founded Bryn Cohn and Artists, I asked myself what does having a company mean to me, what does it feel like and most significantly, who are the types of dancers I want to work with?

My dancers are not simply performers or technicians, they are inventors in every capacity.  Each person engages with a keen sense of intelligence that breathes life into the work. My dancers embrace vulnerability and fearlessly illuminate who they are within the worlds we create. To me, true artistry sits at the core of this idea.  

Every single rehearsal, I find myself humbled by the extent of their talent. The collaborative discourse we share as an ensemble is a rare type of intimacy that blurs the lines between creator and performer.

Bryn Cohn with Street Car Graffiti on a Garage Door
Bryn Cohn -Taking It to the Streets- Screen Shot from Video

TDE: As NYC prepared for the Bessies this fall, The Dance Enthusiast spoke to some of the nominees, including a few phenomenal musicians, about their experience composing for dance? Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with composer and collaborator Bita Sharif?

BC: I met Bita Sharif when we attended college at California Institute of the Arts. When I moved to New York years later, we bumped into one another one the street and decided to experiment with some ideas in the studio. Her work is genius, from the overall composition to the nuances and intricacies that seamlessly meld to build each phrase.  Bita possesses keen ability to understand what my work is communicating, what it needs, and where to take it next.  Her scores pepper my choreography with the bubbling intensity and she takes the listener on a journey in and out of an array of emotions. We are affected and changed in some indescribable way.  

Bita is one of the most spiritual, generous and compassionate women I know, and through collaboration with her, I have learned how important it is to respect and cherish those with whom you work.  

TDE: Among many amazing opportunities, you were also commissioned to choreograph for contemporary fashion designer Betsey Johnson? Are dance and fashion are parallel art forms? How would you say that connection manifests in your work?

BC: Fashion has continued to be a source of inspiration for me in its architecture, geometry, color, construction and innovation.  I spend time gazing at current haute couture collections in awe of the sheer imagination and vision of these artistic voices.  Being asked to create a site-specific work for Betsey Johnson was a special milestone as I have appreciated her bold and unorthodox voice as a designer since I was a child.  Many fashion designers are consistently investigating how radical stylistic choices can illuminate the unknown, which remains as a pivotal cornerstone of my work.  A simple bracelet can speak louder than a multi-patterned caftan just as a potent gesture can impart wisdom that a grand jete cannot.  The reinvention of identity through fashion really interests me.  I like to think of movement through a similar lens: how the movement we “wear” redefines perception and sense of self.

Bryn Cohn Photo by Jaqi Medlock

TDE: There have been a number of conversations recently around art and sustainability. Many are wondering how art will not only survive, but maintain it's irrefutable role in cultural development. At the same time, on December 11th you're hosting a free fundraising event and simply accepting donations. Can you talk about that decision? And about how you've found your sustainable creative practice?

BC: As dancers and choreographers, we are familiar with the financial burdens associated with this career path especially post 2008 when our economy suffered exponentially.  As an emerging company, exposure is critical. There are so many talented artists in New York, and tragically most are not recognized. December 11th is about making our work accessible. We forego the costs of tickets, transportation, food and beverage and provide people with an opportunity to simply enjoy.  To get to know us in a tangible way, to develop attitudes and opinions about our work or about dance in general, to meet other artists and make new friends, to relax and escape from daily life and submerge into a world of art.  

I grapple with how creating this company this will become a financially fruitful enterprise, an ever evolving issue.  I also work as a freelance commissioned choreographer and educator.  I source information from a multitude of outlets in my process and feel it makes me a more informed and independent person.

Bryn Cohn -Taking It to the Streets -Screen Shot from Video

TDE:For your December 11th event, you're "taking dance outside of the theater." Please share the benefits of that for both artist and audience.

BC: As an avid lover of dance, I feel thankful that I get to see so much of it living in New York, in various forms, structures and presentations.  I think displacing dance from its traditional environment, a theater, sheds new light upon the content and what we are seeing and feeling when we watch . Castle Fitzjohns, our host gallery for the evening, is home to works of fine art that truly blow me away.  These paintings, sculptures and multimedia will become the stage, the landscape in which the dance is to be experienced.  

While I feel my work thrives with the production that accompanies the theater, the  barriers between performers and audience will be dispensed with on December 11th to create an inclusive and intimate atmosphere.

 
The Dance Enthusiast  looks forward to joining Bryn Cohn and Artists for their Holiday Benefit
featuring three dance installations, tunes by a live DJ, open bar, visual art and an opportunity to connect to the thriving artistic community in New York City on WEDNESDAY, DECEMEBER 11th at 7pm at the Castle Fitzjohns Gallery (98 Orchard Street).
JOIN US and let us make merry and #getenthused!
RSVP Through The Dance Enthusiast's MeetUp Group: by Clicking
DancEnthusiast's NYC MeetUp Group
 

 

 

The Dance Enthusiast

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