What happens when you combine Philadelphia choreographers with dance makers from across the country, give them less than 10 hours to remix and recreate each other’s works, and ask them to show their creations? We’re about to find out.
The Remix Festival, curated by Annie Wilson and Susan Rethorst, is inspired by Susan’s choreographic technique of wrecking—basically radically taking apart a finished work and reconstituting into a new form—and The Wrecking Project. I spoke with Annie about her involvement in the festival, which has performances May 1st through May 4th at thefidget space, 1714 North Mascher Street in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
Annie was inspired by the Deborah Hay Festival that Nicole Bindler organized in partnership with Mascher Space Cooperative and <fidget>, and that both venues are committed to DIY presenting of experimental dance and performance. To have these two neighboring studios as tandem hubs of dance experimentation for five days is an exciting prospect for this thriving arts community.
Choreographers premiere original works as well as “wrecking,” remixing, and showing new variations of a fellow choreographer’s dance. Artists get six hours of remixing time with each dance over the span of two days before performing. The idea is that this isn’t enough time for choreographers to second guess themselves, but is enough time to make deep structural changes to their remix partner’s work, if they feel so compelled. <fidget> is an ideal space, according to Annie, because it’s the only venue in the city that is also a home; the transition between watching and talking about a dance to hanging out is slim. Philadelphia choreographers include Susan Rethorst, Gregory Holt, and Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Milan, and the out-of-town makers are John Jesurun (NYC), Jen Rosenblit (NYC), Meredith Bove (DC), and Rachel Slater (Portland, OR).
When one choreographer gets to play the “wrecker” of another’s dance, she is not trying to “improve” the original piece or make the original choreographer’s intentions “more clear.” Annie explains, “No one is responsible to the other for their decisions. It’s a way of giving the original choreographer a new way to look at their work, while also calling into question authorship and collaboration.”
Conceptually, there is not difference between wrecking and remixing. Annie compared these choreography techniques to remixing in music. “Girl Talk is one of my favorite musicians, partly because he does actually do something different with remixes; he takes bits of songs and recontextualizes them; he makes a new type of music from them. When I was introduced to the concept of wrecking by Susan, it clicked. I loved that it was a way of generating material, and being in collaboration with another artist that wasn’t consensus-based.” (more…)