Downtown Anna Lee

Here’s another piece by the indomitable Julie Brown! This video is a performance from bluesSHOUT!, but you may remember it from earlier this year at Enter the Blues, where it took first prize at the showcase competition. It’s a great example of how much dedication pays off; when you push yourself to win a competition, and then work even harder because you have an idea in your head you just want to express as well as you possibly can – this is where you can get.

What did you want to express with this choreography?

My last choreography (“Makin Whoopee”) was very soft, subdued, and a bit subtle, so for this piece I wanted powerful movement and a wild, untamed feel. The concept developed more once I picked a song and started to explore the character of Anna Lee. I went through a lot of ideas and it eventually became a Siren’s dance with Anna Lee luring the singer in with moments of coyness, interspersed with moments of the powerful, wild movement I originally set out to use.

Why did you choose the song for the piece?

I’d been trying to choreograph to this song for about a year. I love the passion of the vocals and the chaos that the instruments descend into as the song progresses. It was a good fit for powerful movement, so it was a good fit for what I wanted to do.

What other dances influenced or inspired this one?

For this piece, I drew a lot of inspiration from Naomi Uyama in the ULHS Solo Blues Competition in 2006. Her dancing there was exactly the type of power I wanted–moments bursting with energy, freedom, and power, going right into moments of extreme control. Totally awesome. In the final version of the piece, I also got inspiration from some Sharon Davis movements we did in class at Enter the Blues, some movements from Kate Feldman’s piece at Enter the Blues.

How did you go about combining your concept, song choice, and influences to create the finished choreography?

Ultimately, it was a lot of dancing, experimenting, watching videos, talking to people, watching other dancers, and re-doing things. I had a tougher time with this pieces, and talked to probably around 10 people about it, to get feedback and help me refine the ideas. After the initial performance at Enter the Blues, I had a very helpful conversation with Shoshi Krieger on how to contrast the moments of coyness with the moments of power by taking up more or less space with my body. That combined with the new movement ideas I got during Enter the Blues ultimately lead to the finished product that I did at bluesSHOUT!.

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