This is going to be the last Sweet Choreography interview before Sweet Molasses Blues goes up next week, so I want to take the chance to feature a couple of our instructors local to the Boston area. If you like what they’ve got, I hope you’ll be here learning from them!
And I definitely like it. Addiction isn’t an easy theme to tackle, and I love how they approached it by recognizing it in the song and then experimenting with motion to find what worked. This is the kind of art I want to see more of coming from our community.
What did you want to express with this choreography?
Julie: We didn’t really start with a theme or anything. We chose the song first, and the story grew out of it.
Amanda: Yes, the idea of addiction arose naturally from the lyrics, and it wasn’t something either of us had seen, so we thought it would be an interesting topic.
Why did you choose the song for the piece?
Julie: I had heard another song by the same artist (Rising Appalachia) that was really cool but would’ve been weird for blues dancing–it had a lot of African-style drumming in it–which I had sent to Amanda to see if she wanted to choreograph to it with me. She didn’t like the other song much, so she sent me back “Old Fashioned Morphine,” which I thought was great too, so we went with it.
Amanda: I liked the artist, so I listened to a bunch of their other tracks on the same album and found “Old Fashioned Morphine.” Loved it right away.
What other dances influenced or inspired this one?
Amanda: When I heard the song, I thought a blend of solo blues, contemporary, and contact improv would be perfect, and Julie agreed. Julie and I didn’t do a ton of source work from other dances or choreographies, we just did a lot of experimenting with the jumpy/itchy and melty/woozy kinds of movement we thought visually represented the different phases of addiction.
How did you go about combining your concept, song choice, and influences to create the finished choreography?
Julie: Once we figured out that we’d use the chair to represent our addiction, we put down the overall structure (the blocking & what we were feeling during each “section”). Then we each took a section or two of the in-unison parts and choreographed those separately. The parts where we do different things at the same time were improvised for awhile, until we each found something we liked. Creating the chair interactions was really fun. It was a lot of Amanda & me just kind of playing around with the chair, seeing what we could do, and what looked cool. We even tried this one aerial off the chair, but it was a little too risky, so we cut it.