Thursday, March 21, 2013

Exploring Conflict: Staibdance's "Versus"

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Tonight at the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Staibdance premiers its evening length work, Versus.  Versus journeys into the relationship of tension and conflict within ourselves and others.  Artistic Director and Emory Dance faculty member George Staib takes a moment to answer a few questions about his work and how he tackles such a heavy concept.

How did you first come across this idea of conflict?  What made you want to delve deeper into that concept? 
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I originally wanted to re-work some older repertory pieces, update them, deepen them, and substantiate them more with the original content. After examining the pieces that most interested me, I discovered that there was a through line of interpersonal or personal tension. I found that they confronted a conflict between people or within the self. I then decided that digging deeper into that idea was where I wanted to go. 

At the start of the process, I realized I was being too broad, and it was my experience at Tanz Farm last fall that allowed me to hone in and focus upon what I really wanted to examine. I became more interested in the subtlety of conflict and the impact it has on self-esteem and the psyche in general.

What are some of the different types of conflict that you explore?
I became invested in exploring the implications of love lost, the impact of touch and physical aggression, the turmoil that comes from not speaking your mind, and the agony that comes from not trusting. In addition, the second section of the show addresses our love of watching others in conflict and comments upon the ways in which we glorify the woes of others: basically saying, "whew – better them than me".  We also play around with historical conflicts such as the origin of life, Roe v. Wade, and criminal acts, as frivolously as the media does.

What are some of the different ways the dancers express these types of conflict? 

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The dancers have been asked to reveal themselves, become vulnerable and delve deeply into their own history to provide motives for the movement. They have been asked to find associations to their own lives. While they haven't been asked to reveal their connections publicly,  they have been asked to worry less about being right choreographically, and concern themselves with being honest. It is an ever-changing, ever-shifting experience. I believe that as each performance comes and goes, we will see a very different dance. They have been asked to respond in the moment and not plan their reactions, movements, interpretations in advance. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work? 
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As always, we want more time, we want more information, we want the process to be all-encompassing. But I also believe that an important part of the process is showing what you have so far. I trust that we will come back to this to work with what we discovered via these performances. I find that now, after tech rehearsals, more questions have revealed themselves…it never ends, and that is what makes this experience so rich for me. So in short, this is where we are currently in our research. If I acknowledge that it is not a stopping point, but rather a passing through place, it erases the finality of a performance run and makes it less difficult to bid a temporary good-bye to the material. 

Staibdance Versus shows March 21-23 at 8pm; tickets are available for purchase here.  Please see our Facebook page for more details. For information on the Emory Dance Program, please go to our website.

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