La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions for Stephen Petronio

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

6 Questions for Stephen Petronio

Stephen Petronio is a choreographer, dancer, and the Artistic Director of the Stephen Petronio Company. For over 35 years, Stephen Petronio has honed a unique language of movement that speaks to the intuitive and complex possibilities of the body informed by its shifting cultural context. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists in many disciplines over his career and holds the integration of multiple forms as fundamental to his creative drive and vision. He continues to create a haven for dancers with a keen interest in the history of contemporary movement and an appetite for the unknown.

In Petronio Punk Picks and Other DelightsStephen Petronio Company revives a series of iconic solos and duets from Petronio's formative days coming up in the East Village, featuring collaborations from the ’90s and early 2000s. There are 4 performances in the Ellen Stewart Theatre from November 18–21. Tickets can be purchased here. Follow @stephenpetroniocompany on Facebook and Instagram!

1. What inspired you to select these specific pieces for these performances?

These are quite simply songs that I have adored throughout my life. Most of these were preludes to longer, more abstract works, employed as vectors or lenses through which to look at the works that they were attached to.

2. How does it feel to bring these revivals, reconstructions, and reimaginings to La MaMa?

These songs were the soundtrack to my life in the East Village, where I lived for many years. It seemed like a perfect way to come into La MaMa for the first time!
3. What can audiences expect from these performances, specifically the world premiere of Johnnie Cruise Mercer's and then we hit the boundary where the sun’s wind ceased...?

Johnnie is one of my favorite young artists. I met him several years back and when I saw his work it was love at first sight. He’s passionate about many things, but particularly MOVEMENT! He’s Vibratory— makes movement and dances with depth and passion that makes me happy to be a choreographer! Only Johnnie can speak to what he’s making, but whatever he makes, I eagerly watch.

4. 2022 will be the Company’s 38th Anniversary Season! What are some of the important lessons you've learned from working with your dancers and the Company as a whole?

The only reason to do it is because you LOVE it. If it’s just a job, step off. The other lesson is that in a company where you’ve worked together over years, there can be a delicious depth of discovery that continues to offer the unknown surprise.

5. What are your hopes and future plans for the Company?

Make Art, Make Art, MAKE ART! We have some big plates in the air: my next dances, our Bloodlines reconstructions from postmodern heroes and commissions from the next generation innovators, trying to reckon with inequity in the field and growing the Petronio Residency Center, a research and development facility to support future creation. The canvas of SPC is in place with plenty of room to develop these ideas. Our future is here.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

The fear of loss of our practice in this last period was REAL. La MaMa offers us a precious door back into what we do, in the neighborhood that I grew up in as an artist. It has made me look at some of the things I love best. The drive of these songs and the brilliance of the bodies that have made them with me means everything.

Tess Montoya in Full Half Wrong (1993) by Stephen Petronio. Photo by Sarah Silver.

La MaMa presents
Ellen Stewart Theatre
66 East 4th Street, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10003
November 18 – 21, 2021
Nov 18, Thursday at 7pm
Nov 19, Friday at 7pm
Nov 20, Saturday at 7pm
Nov 21, Sunday at 2pm

Ticket Prices
Adults: $25 in advance; $30 day of show
Students/Seniors: $20 in advance; $25 day of show

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