Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:
Your Name: Annmaria Mazzini Where you live: NYC Where you came from: Allentown, PA Your Medium: Dance The name of your work: Stranger Love
What made you want to participate in this project? Firstly, my friend Patrick Corbin told me he had done it and loved it, and suggested I get in touch with Sally. I was attracted to the collaborative element of the project, and inspired by the sense of freedom it suggested. And I was really in the mood to make something!
If you had to choose one word to sum up the song what would it be? Panic! Fear! Worry! My first thought was that I would not be physically capable of honoring the kinetic reaction I was having to the music. I realized I had in my mind the kind of dance I wanted to do as dancer who happened to be nine months pregnant, and this was not what I expected. (Note to self: I had expectations – why? Because I’m a planner! Because I need to control everything!) It felt very foreign to me: soulful but electronic, distressed but humorous…the word I would use is “alien.”
What was the story behind the song for you? Loss of control as another being takes over one’s body and spirit.
Take me through your process. (For example; “How did you take your initial reaction and transform it into this performance?)
Sally’s instructions were to follow my instincts and to try as much as possible to keep my head out of the process. That was hard for me! As a choreographer I felt like I needed the structure of a through-line and the clarity of who I was and what I was doing. Still the music felt so “alien” to me. Being as pregnant as I am, any dance I do now is more of a duet than a solo, so it occurred to me that this music is the voice of the little stranger growing inside of me – someone who despite coming from my body is still his own entity completely independent from me and ultimately out of my control. That was the surrender: the dance is about the baby using my body to assert and announce himself. My opening movements were carefully formed, but as the dance continued I began to give in to a sense of play, silliness, and lack of control – embracing the awkwardness of my attempts at the dancer lines that came so much easier to me thirty pounds ago, and ultimately finding a real sense of pleasure, wonder, and sensuality in the act of letting go of my body and my head, and my need to control the outcome.
What did you title your work and why? “Stranger Love”, because I love this little stranger, and I was so surprised by how I loved this process. The more I gave in to it the more I found to love about the strange music and the strange alien growing inside me.
What part of the music informed you’re interpretation the most? The driving, electronic beat…on the first few listenings it seemed to go straight through, no time to think, just keep going, keep going! Of course the more I listened the more I heard the breath and layers within it, but I allowed myself to just feel them and react to them rather than let my head get too involved.
What part of your dance came to you first? The opening sequence – a stirring that begins as a seed, grows, and takes over.
How do you normally create? How was this experience different? I usually choose music that I’ve known a long time, music awakens emotions in me which over many listenings gradually translate into images, characters, relationships, and stories. When it comes time to set choreography, I try to stay true to following the emotional through-line that originally inspired me, but structure is still important to me: what comes out must make sense. But then again, maybe not!
What techniques/tools did you use to help you express you’re interpretation? I took notes, journaled, and recorded my reactions, images that came to mind, feelings, fears. Lots of listening, meditating, and observing my thoughts. Repeating the mantra to stay out of my head, to not judge myself, to follow the fear. The movement ultimately grew out of repeated improvisations.
Are there certain choices you made which mean something specific to you that the observer might not know? This is the kind of movement I never thought I’d do in a dance – a lot of it is stuff I’d do at home when I jump up in the living room and start moving crazily to make myself and my husband laugh.
Extra credit: Did you enjoy this project? More you want to say about your experience? I loved this! I loved the emotional journey – from excitement to panic/fear/worry to surrender to fun and play. And transcendence. It took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to embrace a new way of moving to a new kind of music and to do it all without shame in a completely altered body. I learned so much about myself and really feel like these new ideas are going to influence my process for the better as I go forward with my work.