Interview with Rachael Mauney
As a part of our Emerging Choreographer Program, Company Danzante is supporting dancer Rachael Mauney in the creation of new work. This program is designed to create opportunities for young artists to have a chance to develop, explore, and investigate creative skills in choreography. The following is a conversation between Rachael and us about her creative process and development of this year’s program.
CO/DA: Hi Rachael, how long have you been a part of Company Danzante?
Rachael: This is my fourth year with the company. I’m very grateful for the experience to create with the company that has been such a major element in my life for the past 4 years. It has been a challenge and continued to cultivate my own growth.
CO/DA: Today you are having a complete run through with the company for the show coming up next week. What are you working on at rehearsal at this point?
Rachael: I have a lot of ideas about lighting that I am still playing with. I’m also still playing with the opening solo a lot, as well as specific interactions between the dancers. I am never completely satisfied with it and I’m always tweaking small details. I am interested in making a statement and I am constantly analyzing the work as a whole, wondering about the choices I made and what other options are possible.
CO/DA: Tell me about your process? How do you develop the piece? How many dancers are you using? Which music did you choose?
Rachael: I love the creative process. As a dancer, I almost enjoy it more than the act of performance itself, or at least as much. My process starts with my own thoughts and ideas, moving into a lot of time in the studio developing movement. I also try to read a lot about the subject matter I’m exploring and get to know my concept better. The work becomes a very personal relationship to me and I want to dedicate as much time and energy to knowing it as possible. The piece is based on the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I also use text from a Sylvia Plath poem in the work itself. This actually came first and then the music was just a response to their words.
I am using 6 dancers, including myself in this work. Once I am in the studio with the dancers, I spend time teaching the movement, but also asking to see things in many different ways. Sometimes the way I did something translates differently on another person and gives me an opportunity to re-evaluate the intention of that movement. I usually set a pretty full rough draft and then make a lot of changes. This is something about the creative process that can be so hard, but also so fascinating. Putting work into something that may or may not end up in the final product is part of experimentation. The more a dancer and a choreographer are willing to give up their own ego; the process becomes not only easier, but much richer. The process is what gives the work purpose.
CO/DA: Can you share more about your experience working in this program? When are you performing this work?
Rachael: Saturday April 23rd at 6:30pm! This is a very cool program because it allows this larger community event to happen. National Dance Week is something that movers from all backgrounds and experience can get excited about and enjoy. It also shows several different generations of contemporary dance, beginning with Company Danzante Trainee program, including repertory from more seasoned choreographers, and then allowing young artists to produce work. I think dance is in a place right now where it is overwrought with self-satisfying presentations and media saturation. It’s important for all of us to remember where we have come from, what our ambitions are, and most importantly that we’re all in this thing together and need to respect our intimate but evolving dance community.
CO/DA: We’re excited to see how it turns out. Thanks for having this conversation with us.