"Usually in dance there's a hierarchy," says choreographer Pramila Vasudevan. However, with the simultaneous events that occur in "Every Other," there's more of a common ground among the space, the performers, and the visual elements.
The work was first developed last August at a residency with four collaborating artists, then later through workshops at Bedlam before bringing in a large number of participants this spring. The diverse cast includes people from all different backgrounds, ranging widely in age, from 20s to early 70s.
The four main collaborators include Vasudevan and performer/artist Masanari Kawahara, who initially began working on the piece using large chunks of paper. Soon after they began, the work quickly moved to cardboard. "Because he can make anything with cardboard," says Vasudevan.
Next they brought in a dramaturg, Jasmine Kar Tang, and a director, Piotr Szyhalski.
Szyhalski and Vasudevan first met about 10 years ago when Vasudevan was a student at MCAD who was interested in bringing technology and interactive ideas to her expertise in dance. Szyhalski would see the performances, and together they would often grab a cup of coffee afterward to talk about it. They worked together a few years ago for "In Habit: Living Patterns," which premiered at Northern Spark.
Unlike Vasudevan and Szyhalski's previous project, which focused on a linear experience of performance using a structure that had to do with loops, repetitions, and linearity, "with this project, we are going to try to distribute the project laterally," Szyhalski says. "I think of it as a surface."
The piece evolves in three movements. The first section takes on how spaces can shape and control the body. "It's about who has access to a space or a passage," says Vasudevan.
Some examples of how this works include airport designs and waiting in lines, as well as schools, churches, and prisons. Using the Grain Belt Bottling House, which "literally looks like a prison courtyard," says Szyhalski, the artists were looking at the relationship of space and the body, but from a political angle.
The second movement explores the issue of cultural exchange versus cultural appropriation, while the third movement deals with loss of language, using personal stories from within the group.
The set includes PVC pipes and other rudimentary materials, so the artists took a conscious effort to stay away from technology. "I've been thinking about projections in performance," Szyhalski says. "It's almost like it's an expected trapping.... We were trying to work with more humble language." The piece does, however, include sonic lighting elements.
"We look at these vast ideas, and we research and discuss these things," Szyhalski says. A lot of the work comes out of workshopping, with material being drawn from the anecdotal perspectives of the numerous participants in the process. "To me, the piece in and of itself is a way of trying to bring back or pay attention to the sheer complexity of these issues," Szyhalski says.
Thursday through Saturday
Grain Belt Bottling House
79 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Performances at 8 p.m.
$12 suggested donation