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This Saturday evening, the Beach Sessions Dance Series kicks off at Rockaway Beach with BOOMERANG and Laurie Berg. Helmed by Matty Davis and Kora Radella, BOOMERANG is a dance and performance project that delights in presenting work in alternative spaces. For Beach Sessions, BOOMERANG will perform Repercussion, a trio that was commissioned by Dixon Place, and developed at Lake Studios Berlin and The Watermill Center in Watermill, NY, before premiering for three weekends in March 2016. Matty Davis, Adrian Galvin, and Greg Saunier integrate motion and sound in this performance piece that was created with choreographer Kora Radella and inspired by the writing of cultural critic Lewis Hyde. Greg Saunier, drummer of the band Deerhoof, plays live within this trio and all the performers, including the ocean, contribute to the improvised sound score.

Co-artistic directors Matty Davis and Kora Radella chat with { Dd } about how Repercussion was born of a rich collaborative process and embodies, rather than represents, Hyde’s concept of “active forgetting.”

 

{ DIYdancer }: How did Lewis Hyde’s writing come to inspire the work?

Kora Radella: In February 2015, I went to a reading by Lewis Hyde of his work-in-progress entitled “A Primer for Forgetting” at Kenyon College, where we both teach. In the weeks after the reading, Hyde and I shared our perspectives and experiences about active forgetting. He very kindly gave me permission to work with this unpublished writing and research which I shared with the entire cast of Repercussion. I actively read and processed the text during the months before and during the creation process. The ideas and realities of memory and forgetting, willfully and otherwise, live in the work through our bodies. I am comfortable with delving into movement trusting that elements, such as what we are reading and researching, enter the work without trying to portray one theme or concept. Hyde’s work seeped into the piece but Repercussion is not at all a representation of Hyde’s writing.

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

{ Dd }: Was there any group discussion after everyone read Hyde’s text?

KR: Matty Davis and I read the material together in June ‘15, and in July I had a wonderful session out in a dear friend’s garden in Brussels with Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. I took a lot of iPhone footage of Greg talking about forgetting that eve. During BOOMERANG’s residency at Robert Wilson’s The Watermill Center in January ‘16, playwright and dramaturg Will Arbery culled over the writing and sent the cast a collaged poem using Hyde’s text. I looked that over and quite a bit of what struck Arbery were things that I had excerpted in my notes as well. In collaboration with the cast and tweaking by Arbery and founding BOOMERANG member Adrian Galvin, a small amount of the actual text was chosen for a short song, with a melody created by Galvin. I personally think the song adds quite a bit to the piece and really stood by it returning at the very end of the work. It was intriguing to invite and allow an embodied response to Hyde’s writing.

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

Matty Davis: Interestingly, in my experience, the text has has an evolutionary import within the work, it’s meaning and inspiration accruing and being revealed over time.  This happens both within the 45 minutes of a given performance, but then also collectively as the piece is shared again and again–3, 5, 10 performances later.  Repetition and its relationship to memory and the embodiment of memory, whether or not those repetitions are reinforcing, each felt as much as the last, compounding, creating new meaning, or whether they somehow induce some kind of loss or numbness–it’s a question whose resonance goes way beyond the bounds of the piece itself.

For a while, I kind of struggled with feeling the text in the piece. I’ve long had a bit of a personal hang up regarding the use of the voice and speech in BOOMERANG’s work, partially because the the work is just so visceral and so much content lies in the movement itself, but also because I have yet to learn and understand impulses for speech in a similarly deep way that I feel and understand impulses for movement.  Apart from how the solo and the song work together at one point in the piece, I think something really crucial was squeezed out of the text near the end of the creation process, powerfully combining text and physicality.  Galvin is being swung up and over the drums, hanging from my neck.  We’re both breathing really hard, amidst all that’s preceded this moment, and eventually he is thrown off, while my whole body comes falling toward him, repeatedly colliding with his extended arm, his fist in my chest. The breath, the fatigue, the support and falling, physically impact the voice and the words themselves in an essential way.

{ Dd }: Was there time to collaborate and create with Greg Saunier, Adrian Galvin, and threeASFOUR in the same space? 

KR: We worked with Greg Saunier live in the studio, aside from me watching him play drums on multiple videos and monkeying around with that motion in the studio by myself. I met Saunier when he saw my work with composer Ross Feller at Roulette in Brooklyn a few years ago. He was super into the work and when we met up again at a Deerhoof concert, we decided to collaborate. Saunter then came to see Matty Davis perform Thresheld with pianist Adam Tendler to get a sense of BOOMERANG’s work. From that, he thought his playing would be great with our work but he also assumed he’d be sitting with his drums the entire time. I gradually got him moving in the piece. His ideas about performance were very different from mine so it took some interesting coaching. On the way back to NYC from the Watermill Center with Arbery, the two talked about performing with BOOMERANG and the process. Arbery, having said that he wanted to “put his body into the work,” performs the duet For the toward with Davis. Greg summarized the car ride discussion and their similar experiences of our process to me like this: “surprised to be asked to dance and to rehearse so much, confused why we were the ones deemed qualified, frustrated when what we thought were our strengths were chiseled away from the piece, discoveries when we were forced to create a new version of ourselves.”

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

MD: Kora and I worked really intensely and extensively in Berlin.  A huge part of the work’s vocabulary was developed in that time.  But of course, when Greg and Adrian joined us, new possibilities emerged.  For example, it would have been impossible to develop most of the movement and choreography that involves actual physical manipulation of the drums without being present with Greg and the kit.  And Adrian and I push and challenge each other is very particular ways.  You know, maybe it’s the difference between visceral, tactile learning and a more brainy, intellectual learning–though we definitely use both modes.  These moments when bodies are being dragged by drums–the bass drum acting as a bridge between us–or someone’s arms and torso are crashing through a cymbal, that stuff comes from being alive with the objects, the drums. There’s a principle actuality that’s really necessary in developing our work, knowledge earned through presence.  And Greg’s body is integrally a part of the work too; he didn’t just write and hand off some music to play. He’s there live; he’s on the kit; he’s off the kit; he’s on the floor; he’s jostling my arms . . . We’re all listening to each other; supporting each other; challenging each other.

Regarding threeASFOUR, after talking, we sent threeASFOUR some documentation of Repercussion’s progress and they really understood both the powerful simplicity and the subtle depths of the work. We went to the studio, looked at fabrics, discussed durability and immense range of motion that BOOMERANG navigates–I’ve become pretty notorious for tearing the crotch out of my pants.  We talked a lot of materiality and its relationship to the physicality of the piece, the need for endurance, but also a desire for delicateness and detail.  What they came up with–this monochrome black, with sculptural ribbing, involving different fabrics that respond to light in different ways–really works. In the end, to answer this question and regarding both Greg and threeASFOUR, our work dives into the complicated core of being together, listening to oneself and other people, so it’s invaluable that we’re present with each other and our collaborators in real time and space.

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

BOOMERANG by Bryan Derballa for Beach Sessions

 

The Beach Sessions Dance Series
8/20 (BOOMERANG and Laurie Berg)  and 8/27 (Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener and Netta Yerushalmy)
6:30 p.m
FREE 
On the sand at Beach 90th
Rockaway, NY

 

Written by Candice Thompson

After more than a decade in Brooklyn, Candice Thompson is now an Atlanta-based artist and writer. Prior to dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet Company and ad hoc Ballet, she trained with Kee Juan Han at the School of Ballet Arizona and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She founded LOLAstretch Dancewear in 2000 and has designed costumes for a variety of theater and dance companies across the country. She recently received a masters degree in Literary Nonfiction from Columbia University’s Creative Writing Program and more of her dance writing can be found in the pages of Dance Magazine, Pointe, and Dance Teacher.