Meet the Movement: Tyler Phillips

Exciting news from the Orpheum: Schoen Movement is here! A few fabulous members of the dance company took time out of their lunch breaks to sit down for a few minutes and talk with me.

How long have you been with the Schoen Movement Company?

Technically since it’s inception. I was brought on a little late into the process when she was beginning to prepare for Jacob’s Pillow, which was the premiere of the company. Emily’s been creating work for a while on and off, but as far as for the company, we had our premiere performance with a couple of pieces that she had been working on for a while. I came in last minute to replace a dancer.

And it kind of stuck since then.

Yes, so technically since the beginning of the company, but I’d say I’m the latest to be added to the bunch.

Do you like the dancing or the choreographing part more? It seems like you guys all have a pretty big hand in that.

The great thing about Emily’s process, and it’s something that’s hard to find these days, is a lot of people are using your movement vocabulary. It’s a way to create new work, these days people will rely on their dancers to generate new material. Sometimes it can feel like you’re being stolen from; where your idea is so blatantly yours and not the choreographers, and they use it. But in this process it’s being manipulated in such a way, and she’s so directed in exactly what she wants from that phrase and what we’re creating to begin with, that you never feel like you’re being taken advantage of. You feel like you’re on this guided process of creating and collaborating together. I think I can’t really pick a side because dancing and choreographing with her are kind of all in the same sphere of things, it’s like a constant creative process in terms of when we’re generating movement together.

That’s a really interesting perspective. Can you think of a favorite piece that you’ve done with the company?

Oh, all of them. I’m really really stoked about our two new creations, I think they’re both entering two very distinct worlds. That’s nice because sometimes you can feel like you’re just repeating the same dance, but we get to really live in these two worlds right now. As far as going back to think about one of my favorite dances, I really loved doing this piece for the Ten Tiny Dances series with Kacie [Boblitt], even though it was freezing when we were filming it outside. It was really awesome to kind of develop this piece walking through New York and traffic and through a bunch of people. I really loved that, I think that was called City Run.

So in this dance, were you guys the only ones aware that you were doing this tiny dance, or was the public even aware?

No, we were just walking through people!

That’s great! I’m definitely including a link to that. What would you say to aspiring dancers?

It’s a good thing that you’ve chosen to do something physical and creative with your body. Know that it’s a job like any other, there are struggles and everything, it’s not like this complete escape from the reality of corporate America even though we kind of wish it was. Keep pushing and don’t stop being creative with your body, even to those who don’t even see themselves as dancers; like kids, they should feel free to be active with their body. Being creative in the physical sphere is incredibly important for manifesting a healthy lifestyle.

SAM_0593 less wideBranching off of that, do you think dance is important, not only for people who are into art?

Absolutely! I think dance is a vital part of our self expression, it’s definitely our first language. I think it’s incredibly vital to sustaining human relations, and to develop empathy with each other. Understanding our bodies, how that works, and communicating with each other; I feel like our bodies do a lot better job of that than our words sometimes. Words can be very veiled, and planned and precise, but our bodies are usually pretty honest about what we’re experiencing.

In that sense would you say that you prefer dance that is more honest and straightforward, opposed to dance that’s more veiled, and for lack of better words…sneaky?

I don’t know, it can be fun to be sneaky as long as you’re taking the audience with you and you’re not putting a black wall in front of them so they don’t understand anything that’s going on onstage. I do like honest dancing, for sure, but I think that all has to do with creating a world that all of the dancers can believe in. If all the dancers are completely present the entire time, it doesn’t even have to rely on a story. Really the audience isn’t going to care what’s happening onstage unless all the dancers are completely there.

So you have to be sneaky with the audience.

Yeah, it has to be a conversation; you can’t leave them out.

I like the idea of the conversation. You told me before you’re a huge nature guy; do you plan on exploring the nature around here? The weather’s hasn’t been exactly ideal, but still.

Definitely. You know our first day up here we actually went to the Kaaterskill falls and had a beautiful hike just before we got here, which was really grounding and relieved some of the city anxiety. For sure now that the weather is nice, I definitely want to explore more of what’s around here. It’s just nice to breathe fresh air and be able to make a fire again.

I assume you can’t make very many fires in the city.

Oh no, unless you have a backyard, and I’m not one of those privileged few.

One last question: is that a tattoo on your arm I see?

Yes it is.

Can you tell me the story behind that, or the meaning?

Yes, this is for my grandfather. He was a really important person in my life, and that’s actually my grandmother’s handwriting. A few days before he died, he sent my aunt and my mother, which are his two daughters, a quote that said, “happiness is being content with what you have. Too many people spend too much time looking for the pot of gold instead of stopping to admire the rainbow.” He was a really generous human being, always telling me to be fully present. I always wanted something for him, and eventually I just settled on this. I had to kind of pull it out of my grandmother to write it for me.

That’s really beautiful.SAM_0632

Tyler and the company will be performing a showcase this Friday, April 24th at 1PM. The show is FREE but make sure to reserve your tickets on our ticketing website! Stay tuned for more Meet the Movement!


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