Katherine Richardson chats about kerPlunk's appearence at Inside/Out
by karen Krolak
I have raved about Jacob's Pillow in several of Connect 2 Choreography's posts. When Monkeyhouse heard about their efforts to save the Inside/Out stage, we decided to interview people about the importance of this historic dance landmark. Our series begins with Katherine Richardson, Artistic Director of kerPlunk. Although kerPlunk was busy preparing for their debut at the Pillow on the Inside/Out stage tonight, Katherine managed to find enough time to answer all my email questions.
Having missed kerPlunk's appearance at the Cool New York Dance Festival this winter, I wish that I could get out to see this show but Monkeyhouse is knee deep in preparations for the Massachusetts Dance Festival. If you are in the Berkshires and able to attend today, please send us feedback on how it goes.
karen Krolak: So, how long have you been choreographing?
Katherine Richardson: I have been choreographing for the past five years and formed kerPlunk dance in January 2010. I had already been creating my own work for several years in Philadelphia before I moved to New York City. As a dancer I have worked with several companies and freelance choreographers.
kK: Wow, that was right before the 2010 Cool New York Dance Festival. Will you be presenting the same piece at Jacob's Pillow this week?
KR: Yes, and then some. At White Wave’s Cool New York Festival, kerPlunk dance presented “Scapes”, which is the second section of a two-part piece entitled Fixed Observations. Festivals such as Cool New York are wonderful for getting your work seen, but their time constraints limit how much repertory can be shown. We are very fortunate that Jacob’s Pillow gives us the opportunity to present the full 21 minutes of the work, which premiered at the Painted Bride Theater in Philadelphia, PA for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2009.
kK: Will you be featuring other works tonight as well?
KR: Aside from Fixed Observations, which will be closing the show, we will also be presenting two premieres: Redirected Entropy, originally commissioned by the Hartford Ballet Company in Maryland for their 2010 season, and the in betweens, an excerpt of a work-in-progress to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. the in betweens is in collaboration with the Atlantic Brass Quintet to go on tour in 2012.
kK: I was very pleased when I read that a number of kerPlunk's company members also dance for Amanda Selwyn who was in my choreography classes at Northwestern University. Oddly enough, the last time I saw her was at the Choreographers' Lab at Jacob's Pillow in 2008. Did you meet all of your company members at her rehearsals?
KR: It just so happened that at some point some of us had danced or do dance with Amanda Selwyn Dance Theater. For the majority of the company members, mostly everyone had known each other from various walks of life such as workshops, other performance projects, auditions, and college. I’ve personally known one of my dancers since middle school. It’s interesting that a good portion of us did end up working together just as I was starting to lay the groundwork for the company.
kK: That is rather serendipitious. How do you feel that her work has influenced yours?
KR: Although her aesthetics differ from my own as a director and choreographer, the collaborative atmosphere she uses during the rehearsal process helped re-awaken my passion for choreography.
kK: I know that Amanda Selwyn Dance Theater performed at Inside/Out stage last summer. What was that experience like for you? Did it encourage you to apply to be included in the 2010 season or was that something that you were already planning?
KR: The performance on the Inside/ Out stage was one that I will never forget. The open air was invigorating, the audience so appreciative, and the staff a pleasure to work with. There is something really special about the space, the energy that it gives, and the calmness of its surroundings. After performing at the Pillow I immediately knew that I wanted to return and experience it again. I had always wanted to apply and be one of the many fortunate companies/
choreographers to present work on the Inside/Out stage, and my experience made the Pillow feel more tangible.
kK: In order to save the Inside/Out stage, the Pillow must match a $100,000 Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Grant by September. Can you tell me what the opportunity to perform at this landmark means to emerging choreographers like yourself?
KR: The Pillow’s history and legacy has always been tied to the support and development of emerging choreographers and companies. It’s a place that has been a turning point for many who have stepped forth as a new voice in the dance world. Having the opportunity to perform on the Inside/Out stage with kerPlunk dance, where so many other companies set foot, is very much anticipated and an honor. What the Inside/Out stage offers is the chance to share our work with a wide variety of audience members and colleagues. Being part of the tradition of sharing work and the introduction of new voices in the dance community is something that I hope Inside/ Out will be able to continue for many seasons to come. Jacob’s Pillow and its Inside/ Out stage understand the evolution of art and the creative care and attention that is needed to keep it thriving. The stage is not just a performance venue, but also a testament to the Pillow’s iconic history. Its preservation is invaluable for all of us.
kK: I couldn't agree more. Be on the lookout for more thoughts on this stage.