From the dizzying excitement of ending one show and preparing for the next, another intriguing interview arises! It was great to step into the wonderful mind of Emily Schoen, director of the Schoen Movement Company, which will be in residence soon at the Orpheum. We can’t wait for their FREE showcase on April 24th! In the meantime, take a look at what Emily has to say about storytelling, dance, and choreography.
What’s the first step in your creative process?
The first step in my creative process is usually either music or concept. If I have a good idea of what the music will be before I enter the studio, it’s much easier for me to use it as a roadmap for the piece. This is when dance-making happens quickest for me. If I have a strong concept before I enter the space, the music joins the movement as a changing variable, and I test out lots of options to find the right fit.
When you start out with a strong concept, is there a certain genre of music you find generally works best with your ideas?
My music tastes are all over the board. I like choosing classical music, popular music, oldies tunes, and even working with composers on original scores. I think that using a variety of music makes for a more interesting dance concert.
You’ve got some really intriguing themes and ideas; for instance, how did you come across the idea of using podcasts in developing a performance?
I fell in love with podcasts a couple of years ago when I started listening to them during my commutes around New York City. Good podcasts feel intimate- they feel like the speaker is talking only to you, and you are having this personal experience in the middle of the swirling energy of a city workday. My favorite podcasts- This American Life and The Moth- share other people’s real life stories, so they make you feel connected to the humanity of others and in touch with society. I love storytelling and try to bring it to my dance-making, so it seemed natural to use podcasts as inspiration for dance works. I’m never trying to re-tell a story through dance, but rather use the themes that have inspired me to direct the movement vocabulary of the piece or the way that the dancers interact.
Out of all the pieces you’ve done, which is your favorite?
It’s hard to say which is my favorite piece. The one that I’m most excited about at a given moment changes. Right now when thinking over the repertoire, Robotic Love pops up as a piece I really like. It’s a male-female duet, made completely of staccato movement that describes a tender, yet mechanical and emotionally neutral relationship. Another piece that I keep coming back to is In One Ear and Out My Brother, which is set to a dynamic original score that I love.
Do you think dance is important?
I do. Engaging in art raises the morale of society, ignites creativity, and charges the workforce. Dance, specifically, speaks to our biological understanding of movement. Toddlers know how to physically respond to music without ever being taught. Dance works therefore are inherently pleasing because they are based in something so human.
The Schoen Movement Company will perform a showcase of their latest work at the Orphuem Performing Arts Center on Friday, April 24th at 1PM. The show is FREE, but make sure to reserve your tickets here in advance for a guaranteed seat!