Month: April 2015

Sense of Time – Erin Malley (SFCD Choreographic Residency Artist 2015)

Katharine Hawthorne and Erin Malley were selected as resident artists for SFCD’s inaugural Choreographic Residency. They have each contributed some thoughts about their experience. Read Erin’s below and Katharine’s HERE.

SENSE OF TIME – Erin Malley


In my residency, I’ve been developing a new film project about a girl who splits apart / gets copied (still figuring out the semantics here) and what happens to both her internal being(s) and external self(ves) as that continues to happen. At the beginning, I wasn’t totally sure if this was going to be a “dance film” per se. My time at the Conservatory has helped me come much closer to finding out just what this film needs to be.

The dancers must have thought I was insane at several points in the process. Some weeks, I would come in with tools like scooters, and a little statue of Loreley. Other weeks, I would “be a royal bitch” (to quote Elizabeth) to help everyone find how deep they could go in terms of performance. But what remained constant for me was the pursuit of the main character, and what kinds of words or tools I could use as a director to bring her to life.

elizabeth munch
Working with the students at SFCD has been interesting and rewarding and challenging. They are open and young, and exhibit a willingness to try lots of things. Their sense of time is long, which doesn’t always work in the medium of film, but we have been meeting each other. Our work together has already influenced my sense of time for this project; it’s stretching longer for me.

The other challenge (and simultaneous pleasure) is that all of the students signed up to work with me on this film that is about one person. Exquisitely ironic. As I’ve been used to working with small casts, at first I didn’t know how to work with larger groups. At times I’ve wanted and needed to focus in on just one or two people, which has served me and the students well. But importantly, I’ve learned how to expand my focus beyond one or two subjects, to perceive more around me as I shoot. Another important thing I’ve learned how to do during my residency is give one simple task for the day and then ride the energy of the room.

Following my residency, I want to continue workshopping more ideas for this film, and expanding my rough cut. I’m not yet ready to write a formal script, but perhaps thanks to the structure of the residency (with rehearsals happening each week) this piece has been coming together more like a dance – through trials and tests and shooting and looking. I’m interested in continuing to work along these lines during the summer and find more physical ideas before I commit the whole thing to paper. It’s asking to be a feature length film. So it looks like I’ve got plenty of work cut out for me!

Erin Malley is an award-winning intermedia artist currently working in the fields of video and performance, with an emphasis on how the two mediums can inspire and influence one another. Malley’s video design and film work has been seen at DOCK 11, Berlin, Germany; Akropoditi Dance Centre, Hermoupolis, Greece; the University of Sussex; Louisiana State University, The Roxie Theater, SOMArts (SF), among others. Her choreography has been performed at venues such as HERE Arts Center (NYC), Joe’s Pub at the DanceNOW Festival (NYC), Dance Place (Washington, D.C.), Columbia University, ODC, and CounterPULSE. She holds a BFA in Dance and French from Western Michigan University – magna cum laude (2001).

Everything Moves – Katharine Hawthorne (SFCD Choreographic Residency Artist 2015)

Katharine Hawthorne and Erin Malley were selected as resident artists for SFCD’s inaugural Choreographic Residency. They have each contributed some thoughts about their experience. Read Katharine’s below and Erin’s HERE.

EVERYTHING MOVES – Katharine Hawthorne

I start from the premise that everything moves (in the words of Jacques Lecoq, “tout bouge”). Motion is a fundamental state shared by atoms, animals, cities, and galaxies. I’m curious about the ways in which the human body can channel different scales of motion to hint at the experience of things much smaller and larger than us. We understand the world around us through our own physical size, using the meter stick of our mind to constantly measure our surroundings. How can we be conduits to experience and understand things at a different scale?

atom to galaxy

I treat the dance studio as a laboratory and rehearsal as research. I set initial conditions by giving a movement prompt (such as make a small dance, or move as if you are magnetized towards/against the walls of the room), and define additional parameters over time. Dance helps us wake up to the information that is already all around us – to listen to the vibration of the floor, to feel the air moving across the surface of our skin. It can also help us position ourselves on the continuum of movement from the hum of atoms to the gravitational forces hurtling us through space. Can you imagine that you could become sensitive enough to detect the motion of a single atom? Or that you might be subject to the movement of a far away star? If you could perceive these things, how would it affect how you move?

The SFCD Choreographic Residency offered me the chance to experiment with different ways of generating and directing dance. Instead of starting with a strong idea of the themes of the project, I entered the studio with a handful of questions and a desire to let something grow and evolve. I started small, asking the dancers to make “microscope” dances inspired by images of everyday objects seen under a microscope. Things grew from there. We built underwater ecosystems, mapped mountains, explored the grid pattern of cities, and telescoped ourselves to distant galaxies. Watching the dancers discover and inhabit new movement worlds has been immensely satisfying. I hope that scala naturae, the piece we’ve made together, offers them a chance to connect, find beauty amidst chaos, and shine brightly.

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Katharine Hawthorne is a San Francisco based dancer and choreographer who likes to watch thinking bodies in motion. She has performed with Liss Fain Dance, Hope Mohr Dance, Sharp & Fine, Ledges & Bones, and James Sewell Ballet, among others. Hawthorne’s body of work is grounded in her passion for the sciences and her interest in integrating technology into performance. She has presented her creative work widely in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Brown University in Providence, RI; Greece, Argentina, and Montréal, Canada. Recent performances have been recognized as “fiercely intelligent” and “fearlessly athletic” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Hawthorne holds a B.S. in Physics and Dance, with honors, from Stanford University.