JS: I've always loved dancing and I can't imagine being a dancer without making dances. My first choreography was for our high school musicals (including "Kiss Me Kate"). My first semester in college I founded a dance troupe.
JS: Of course, video is key . . . BUT as far as notes goes . . . The first thing is that I give names to all the moves. It's important in the process that we all agree on the same names for the steps -- and I do sometimes offer "naming rights" to the dancers! I sometimes make a vocabulary "key" (eg. correspond name to sketch) and then write out the sequence of moves of the dance, along with sketches for spatial orientation. If the work is musically based, I'll write out the timing as well.
JS: I think it's a good idea, but it doesn't always happen. For a while I was working with a dramaturge (another choreographer whose sensibility I admired) and she gave me feedback on helping to shape both the structural, but in particular the character and narrative elements of the piece. I rely a lot on my collaborators, especially composer Quentin Chiappetta, to give me feedback as we go along. Quentin and I have worked together for so long he knows what I'm going after.
JS: Philippe DeCoufle, Pina Bausch, and Merce Cunningham.
JS: I think it was a jazzy number to "Heard it through the Grapevine" for a school musical . . .
JS: Yes. I've been making work for about 16 years. About 10 years ago I hit on the idea of "time- lapse" dance (i.e work that acknowledges the trajectory of history into the present) and have been simultaneously exploring the "Loie Fuller" idiom and my infatuation with the idea of "cheapness". (I made solo "Cheap" in 1999, duet "Cheaper" in 2003, and trio "Cheapest" in 2005. Recently, I added the quartet "Bang for the Buck" to the series.)
JS: Flow. Strength. Musicality. Flexibility. Comfort with partnering. Versatility. Special skills, such as gymnastic ability or acrobatics. Confidence. Positive attitude. I'd say hard working, but all dancers are hard-working.
JS: There is a specific story, and it is completely an accident. In 1997, I was working as the Illustrations Editor for the International Encyclopedia of Dance and the Managing Editor of that project, Elizabeth Aldrich (also a social dance historian and film choreographer), got a gig to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Library of Congress. As part of the program, she wanted to choreograph a "butterfly dance" a la Loie. One day, she put a picture of Loie Fuller on my desk with a post-it that said "How about this?" At first, I protested, but relented when she promised it would be fun. I ended up performing in the rotunda of the LOC in a costume with 15-feet pink wings while an 18-piece brass band played Wagner's "Ride of the Walkyries". Video here:
JS: Gosh, I just made one piece after another. I really enjoy library research. You get to experience delving into materials that are rarely viewed. It's a privilege.
JS: The lights and costumes are completely integrated into the choreography. I don't have either a lighting or a costume background, but I collaborate with wonderful designers -- David Ferri (lighting) and Michelle Ferranti (costuming). I've worked with both of them since 2002.
JS: We were supposed to perform for the opening ceremonies of an international cricket championship in Bangalore. The entire tournament was postponed due to the Mumbai attacks. Hopefully, we will reschedule the performances as well.
JS: City Center, at Fall for Dance. Such a lovely stage, and in my hometown.
JS: I grew up in NYC, in the Village, but now I live way uptown on the Upper West Side, so it's been a pretty big transition ; ) . . . Honestly, I love the city and could never live anywhere else.
JS: Of my recent works, I'm most excited about "Ghosts." I was consciously trying to expand the "Loie" vocabulary into new directions. The score is by Quentin Chiappetta and it's outstanding. We got a grant from the American Music Center for the commission and to have it played live at the premiere in October. I've listened to it probably over a thousand times and am not bored yet. The music uses gamelan rhythms, including sudden tempo changes, and is scored for cello, piano and percussion.