PEOPLE OF DJD – KIM COOPER
Thursday, April, 26, 2018
PEOPLE OF DJD//
There are many people that make up the community at the DJD Dance Centre. From artists, administrators, volunteers and beyond, these walls are pulsing with personality.
DJD Artistic Director
1.WHY PUPPETS?I still feel like I am just starting to discover what puppetry is and can be. I have been going to Old Trout Puppet Workshop performances for many years. My first was Famous Puppet Death Scenes and I was completely awestruck by the simplicity and poignancy of the work. I got completely sucked into the magic of the puppets and the focus and movement of the puppeteers. Then I saw The Erotic Adventures of Don Juan and there was a scene with a prostitute puppet whose body parts all exploded and came together as she danced with Don Juan, that was when I knew I had to work with Pete.2.HOW HAS CREATING THIS PIECE BEEN DIFFERENT THAN OTHER PIECES YOU HAVE CREATED?It has been harder, in a good way. There has been a steep learning curve for all of us. Puppets take time, a different kind of time than dance and sometimes I can see the dancers getting frustrated by that. It’s almost like you have to try out all of the possible ways of working with a puppet, then sometimes when you think you have exhausted all of the possibilities you get to the good stuff, and sometimes your first instinct was right, but you still have to go through the process. This process requires a different kind of focus and detail than dance, or maybe it doesn’t but because puppetry is new to us so it seems different. Pete and I also had to find our way of working together: our language and process. Though similar, our forms are also very different.3. WILL WORKING WITH PUPPETS AND PUPPETRY CHANGE YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE?It already has, in fact, the last two pieces I made, Juliet and Romeo and New Universe, both had puppetry elements in them.I see a world of possibility in puppetry and how it can work with dance. I think animating objects and the focus of the puppeteer can encourage a different sense of play in creation and performance. It can allow for a different way of thinking about movement and instinct. Puppets can do things that humans can’t, and vice versa. “Remixing” the inanimate with the animate can present different possibilities in creating movement.I think puppetry can give the audience a more immediate invitation to accept whimsy and absurdity. This is great because then maybe they are more willing to come along for the ride earlier in a performance.4. HOW HAS IT BEEN TO COLLABORATE WITH PETE?Pete is a brilliant guy, he is curious and fun and full of ideas. Between us we maybe have too many ideas, but it was always easy to find the one that resonated with both of us. Pete could have been a dancer, he taps and plays drums and is a very physical performer. It was interesting to work with him and see how he uses dramatic tension, how he talks about things that I talk about in different ways. I think we are learning a lot from each other and I hope we will work together again in the future.5. WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO TELL US?Mimic is really a dance piece with puppets, rather than a puppet show. The movement vocabulary was inspired by many things- in Act 1 which is considered to be the more “primitive” act- the “birth” of this world- the dance of the hunters- was inspired by things like Japanese precision walking, animals hunting and playing, exercises from a theatre technique we learned from Pete based on the work of Tadashi Suzuki- but funked up and danced with character. Act 2 has more pomp and “sophistication”, the movement is very West African based, more layered, more complex rhythmically and also full of character. In creating the choreography, I spent a lot of time dancing on and around that table which had to be built to be so strong and sturdy that it would be safe and up for anything. The music, as always, is such a huge part of my process, and really is where it all comes from. The music inspires me to create movement that I then translate to the dancers, and later it gets shaped to help the narrative elements to tell the tale. Nick Fraser made an incredibly rich and textured score that was very inspiring for dancing and storytelling. Natalie Purschwitz was instrumental in our process. Natalie and I have been working together for probably 15 years and the time the three of us (Natalie, Pete, and I) spent in Banff planted important seeds for the piece. Her research into paintings from the Romantic Era of great feasts and recalling films like Peter Greenaway’s, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover really informed the look of Mimic. Then we worked closely with Brian Macneil to create lighting that could have the sense of a deep dark forest, a majestic feast and other worlds real and imagined that come throughout the piece. And all of this with the idea of mimicry and the questions around that; what are we mimicking? how do we mimic ourselves mimicking? From the blobs at the top of the show mimicking underwater plants, to watching how hippos play in the mud to develop movement for the beast, the ritual of the hunters bloodying their faces with their kill and then the aristocrat’s ritual of rouging her cheeks in preparation for the party… there are so many layers to this piece.