La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Chase Brock - La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival

Monday, May 5, 2014

6 Questions: Chase Brock - La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival

1. What drew you to the music of The New Christy Minstrels when you were creating The Song That I Sing; Or, Meow So Pretty?
The arresting and unforgettable sound of those ten voices, the optimism-tinged-with-sadness of their lyrics, the sharp humor and good nature in their performances. When I discovered them, their music just made me happy and I wanted to introduce my generation to them and generally spread the gospel of the Christies. I wanted to spend time in the studio and in my headphones with their songs. I think there is great wisdom about life in their songs and tremendous beauty and clear-headedness. I really responded to that.

2. How do making your own work with The Chase Brock Experience and choreographing for other productions, such as Venice (Public Theater) & Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark (Broadway), inform each other?
In so many ways. To give one example: in the case of Venice, which you mentioned, I utilized aspects of street dance or folk dance or movement from all over the world including Parkour from France, Jumpstyle from Belgium and Rebolation from Brazil. I’m enormously curious about all sorts of things so I always find the research I do for shows so fascinating and often want to spend more time than theater allows to explore or develop or transform that research into fresh dance material. A dance like this one has allowed me that time and space, and interpolates many styles of dance I first used in shows – from 16th century Italian Renaissance dance to Irish step dance to digits and finger tutting to Appalachian clogging.

3. What inspired you to name the piece The Song That I Sing; Or, Meow So Pretty?
This time I set out to just make the kind of dance I make without apologizing for it or worrying what ’the dance establishment’ would think about it and ‘the song that I sing’ is a fragment of the New Christy Minstrels song Today that I felt expressed that. The original lyric is “I’ll be a dandy and I’ll be a rover / you’ll know who I am by the song that I sing / I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover / who cares what the morrow shall bring?” However, I worried that that title could become a touch too sentimental so I was looking for a spikier title and ‘meow, so pretty’ was a lyric from The Cat that I felt had just the right punch. Ultimately, I wanted the sweet and the sour (which I feel the piece is also about) so I decided to employ a kind of literary device and offer both titles so the viewer can pick their preferred title!

4. Has having your own company (The Chase Brock Experience) changed your work?Yes. I also feel the work I do with my company has changed a great deal over the years. When I started the company I was 23 and now I’m almost 31, so first of all I’m a more evolved human and the way I interact with the dancers and the way I make work is calmer and happier and healthier, and the things I value are different, and my interests continue to expand, so all of that changes the work. The ability to share an ongoing dialogue with a group of artists (especially when you get to pick the artists!) over time is such a gift and such an opportunity for growth and deepening and development.

5. Which artist(s) in the festival are you most excited to see?
I’m of course most interested to see Chris Masters’s A Willful Host because our two dances will be sharing a program together during the last week of the festival, but I’m also very interested to see Adam Barruch’s solo for Miki Orihara and I’m intrigued by Dylan Crossman’s dance and Rebecca Lazier’s dance. And the photo of Les Communs is so beautiful in the brochure. And How to Deliver an Afghan Hat sounds enormously interesting. There’s quite a lot of great dance to see in this festival, isn’t there?!

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
I’ve enjoyed a number of performances at La MaMa over the years, from many shows in the puppet festivals to Taylor Mac’s The Walk Across America for Mother Earth, and I understand and value La MaMa’s (and Ellen Stewart’s) pioneering place in downtown theater, music, dance and puppetry. Though I work consistently in downtown theaters like The Public Theater and The Flea Theater, I have sometimes felt left out of downtown dance, and I feel so grateful to Nicky Paraiso for seeing value in my work and value in presenting it in the context of a ‘downtown’ dance festival. I feel so happy to be included and am so looking forward to sharing our newest work with La MaMa’s audiences.

photo by Rosalie O'Connor

La MaMa Moves: Chase Brock & Chris Masters

May 22 – May 25, 2014 

Thursday - Sunday: 7:30pm

The Song That I Sing; Or, Meow So PrettyThe Chase Brock Experience 
A Willful HostChoreography & Direction by Chris Masters
For Tickets and Information: CLICK HERE

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