An Interview with Alissa Cardone

by Karen Krolak

Whether her eccentric grace appears on film or on stage or even on a crowded street at lunch time, Alissa Cardone's bold choreographic voice captivates audiences. In between earning her MA at NYU's Department of Performance Studies and working on her MFA in World Arts and Culture at UCLA, she has helped create Kinodance (Voted on of Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch for 2008), co-curated the Boston Cyberarts Festival, and launched the Critical Moves Contemporary Dance Series.

Recently, she has was invited to participate in the New England Foundation for the Arts Regional Dance Development Initiative (RDDI) and selected for a joint residency at Summer Stages and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She has also been awarded numerous grants (including an Artist Fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council) and has performed in Japan, Russia, and Armenia. Somehow she graciously found a few moments this week to chat with me.

kK: My word, you have been busy this week. I read on the Dance Action Network that you created a public Butoh laboratory on Wednesday in Downtown Crossing entitled, SLOW. How did people react to it?

AC: There was a fairly equal amount of aggressive commentary and curious spectatorship. Someone joked that the Puritan spirit still looms over Boston. Some homeless people joined us. As a simple social experiment it offered the possibility of another pace, another way to exist in a public space. It was incredibly transformative for the participants to have an hour in a held, structured space to move slowly and re-frame time and experiences of time.

We fill our lives with activity, productivity and forget that if you slow down there are whole new possibilities and profoundly simple discoveries and observances to be made. Awareness is vital and starts with your own body and self and the quality of that awareness is reflected in your connection to other people and things within your local environment.

kK: And this weekend you are presenting Adele Myers & Dancers, Carol Somers, Karl Cronin, Rebecca Pappas, and Talya Epstein at Green Street Studios as part of your project, Critical Moves. How long have you been curating Critical Moves?

AC: I think I did the first show in 2005.

kK: And, is there an organizing theme or connection between the works in this concert?

AC: For this particular concert, no. In the past, yes.

kK: Do you select specific pieces from each choreographer or do you let them choose what they will present?

Sometimes I go after a specific piece if I've had the chance to see it before. Ninety-nine percent of the time I'm familiar with someones work and its trajectory - I have a sense of what they're obsessed with and am interested in cultivating it. It can be risky if I've never seen the actual work before, but I trust the quality of attention that drew me to that person's work in the first place. I don't always "like" the work I present, however, a curator has to look beyond one's own aesthetics and recognize work that should be shown.

kK: So, what excites you about the choreographers that you have chosen?

AC: They are exploring and experimenting with material that is vital to them.

kK: What prompted you to start this series?

AC: A need for it and Green Street Studios openness to collaborate with me. They believed in a vision. There is such a lack of presenting opportunities for ANY dance work and this was a fully produced opportunity that could provide artist fees. I saw a benefit for curated shows vs. shared concerts where you never know what you're going to get. I also wanted to get dialogue going between artists in other cities, outside Boston, regional, international. People like Lacina Coulibaly from Burkina Faso or Luciana Achugar in New York.

I also wanted to distinguish presenting contemporary dance vs. modern dance and contribute to educating audiences about dance. I wanted to start cultivating a way for people to distinguish between amateur and professional work.

kK: How does curating these concerts relate to your own creative process?

AC: Seeing work is an engagement with meaning-making as is dance making. Dance is an international community and many of us dialogue with each other thru what we create. Some of the pieces in this particular concert deal with process, physicality, question or push form or challenge audience/performer relationship. I am interested in these ideas. Don't you have that feeling sometimes when you see work? It can inspire, clarify, annoy, piss you off but ultimately makes you ask questions. Maybe seeing work makes you ask the same questions over and over again or you find new questions. Questions are provocative. However, knowing what the right questions to ask is often the biggest challenge and seeing work can sometimes jog the brain.

kK: Thanks Alissa, I look forward to seeing the show on Saturday.

AC: Thank you, Karen.

Fri March 20, 8pm & Sat March 21, 8pm
Green Street Studios Center for Movement & Dance,
185 Green Street (Central Sq) Cambridge, MA
Reservations at 617-864-3191
Tickets: $20/$15 students & BDA
Adele Myers & Dancers (NYC/New Haven, CT), Carol Somers (Boston),
Karl Cronin (NYC), Rebecca Pappas (LA), Talya Epstein (NYC)

Post-performance discussions will follow both shows.

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