Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Q&A with Dance Alumna Ellen Lyle

Recent Emory dance alumna Ellen Lyle is preparing to present a new site-specific piece at a labyrinth Emory Presbyterian Church (see below for more information about the performance). We asked her a few questions about her experience at Emory, her current work, and future plans.

What have you been doing since graduating in May?
This summer I studied at the American Dance Festival, thanks to the Emory Friends of Dance. I took three classes most days in modern technique and composition (with Jesse Zaritt) and hiphop (with LaShawn Jones and HeJin Jang) as well as anusara yoga a few days a week. I also had the opportunity to create and present the beginnings of a new work in the ADF Student Concert and receive feedback from students and working professionals.

Currently I am in Atlanta working independently as a choreographer. I am collaborating with a number of Emory students and alumni as a part of a new arts collective, ellen lyle / open collision dance, which will be presenting work for the first time this weekend.

I am also working at the Atlanta Ballet and the Woodruff Arts Center and teaching ballet and young children's classes.

What are your future plans in dance?
I plan to continue creating new work; that I know for sure. Beyond that, I am letting things take me where they will. I am still figuring out what role I want dance to play in my life, but I will likely continue to choreograph and perform as long as I am able.

How did your education at Emory help prepare you for a career in dance?
My education at Emory gave me room to explore the field of dance both independently and under the guidance of its supportive faculty. The Dance Program helped me to think creatively and openly about the purpose of dance, as art, service, commentary or whatever its role may be. My education as a whole at Emory strengthened my critical mind and broadened my knowledge and awareness in a number of fields that play a vital role in the work I create.

How did you get the idea for a site specific dance at a labyrinth? Would you like to share anything else about the development of this piece?
I began attending Emory Presbyterian, where the labyrinth with which we are working is located, my freshman year at Emory. Over the past few years I've seen and visited a number of different prayer labyrinths, and I've been intrigued by their use and how people view them. Many people think of a labyrinth as being a maze—with dead ends and many different paths—something that is confusing. A prayer labyrinth, however, has only one path. There are no tricks to finding your way through. You begin at the outside, and work your way to the center, as a means of centering, meditating, or connecting with God. The path is a journey, spiritual or otherwise.

From an aesthetic point of view, the labyrinth is a very interesting space to work with—offering a circular foundation, with designs laid out in its path and with a central focus. The stones offer a unique, grounding texture. For me, working and performing in this space is a means of looking at what it means to be on a journey, to walk through life and accumulate new experiences, create memories, and leave marks along the way. To alter the journey for the future. The movement of these dancers in unison or in harmony in this space create for me a sense of travelling, sustaining community.

No comments:

Post a Comment