Choreographer/artistic director Kimberly Bartosik and her company, daela, make an ADF debut today (Sunday, July 23) with a 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. performance of “Ecsteriority4(Part 2)” at the Ark on Duke University’s East Campus. Daela shares this program with “Note The Self” performed by Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson.
By SUSAN BROILI
In an email interview Kimberly Bartosik spoke of what this ADF debut means to her. She is an accomplished choreographer with many awards to her credit, including a Bessie.
She also spoke of her nine years in the Merce Cunningham Company, 1987-1996, and how her experiences there continues to influence her own work.
And, she shared the new, artistic direction she took in “Ecsteriority4(Part 2) and what had initially driven her to create it.
“It is hugely wonderful to be here,” Kimberly Bartosik said in an email. “I’m from Wilmington, NC and was a student twice at ADF. I danced here several times with Merce. I’m a UNC School of the Arts alum and have spent a lot of time at Duke (my sister is an alum), where two of my siblings currently work.
“To be back with my own work – the first time performing in NC – is amazing and terrifying. I have my four siblings and their families coming, plus my father. As I was watching dress rehearsal my heart jumped and I thought – am I really going to show this piece to my family … what will they think?
“What I love most [about being at ADF for the first time} is being part of [ADF director] Jodee Nimerichter’s “Out of the Box” series. I love that my work has a reputation of being edgy! That’s my Merce blood!”
When asked what she had liked best about being in the Merce Cunningham Company, she replied: “Having a stable job where I could grow and go through phases! I had many highs and lows over nine years, and in between these phases, I was always continuing to learn something about myself and the work… Also, I really liked going deeply into one movement approach and repertory and having the chance to perform works many times where I was able to find, experience and feel new things.
“I felt I was able to express myself artistically within Merce’s work, which people often don’t believe is possible because of the rigorous dedication to form. I felt a huge amount of freedom. Merce never really directed us. He gave steps and we did them as we chose within a particular temporal and special framework. There was a lot of space for individual expression.”
As for what she would like ADF audiences to know about “Ecsteriority4(Part 2), she elaborated:
“This was the first piece I’ve made where I’m really relying first and foremost on the body – the power of the body to communicate an idea. And, where I finally found a place for movement in my work. After several years of working on a more conceptual sphere and where design elements were often as important as dance, I re-embraced the body and movement because of the themes I was exploring.
“For this work, I was examining ideas about violence and the impulse toward violence – its energetic force and resonance – and, its physical, emotional and psychic ramifications.
“I created the work in response to the unimaginable acts of violence which seemed to be happening with greater frequency and urgency when I seeded the project – and which have continued.
“While I don’t make political work and deeply value aesthetics, formal experimentation and technical virtuosity, I’m committed to creating art that responds to the world around me – to connect what happens in the studio to the lives of people with whom I will share my work.
“The initial impulse to create “Ecsteriority4 (Part2)” sprang from my profound anger and confusion over the Newtown, CT murders. (I have a young child so this incident was particularly resonant.) Not wanting to over-intellectualize my response, I dove into questioning how to trap the energy of violence in the body as well as how long that force can be sustained.
“Questions driving my process included: what happens in the body the moment prior to pulling a trigger? What energetic force surges through a body that will, in an instant, take the life of another?
Due to the intense physical and emotional demands of the piece, I needed dancers who I trusted would take their bodies to a far extreme where they could access a physical core of emotion. I wanted to question how to bring a palpable drama into my work and because I don’t deal with narrative drama, I found emotion through the body.
“Both the original and current [three-member) casts have two dancers who were part of Merce’s final company: Dylan Crossman (original & current), Melissa Toogood (original) and Jamie Scott (current). Dancer Burr Johnson rounds out the trio of performers ADF audiences will see.
“They [Cunningham-trained dancers] just get what it is to ask their bodies to do extreme things and to see what happens. There’s an enormous amount of risk involved in the piece and I needed dancers who had both incredible virtuosic control but also a desire to go beyond that,” Bartosik said.
“The piece is only 32 minutes because that’s the limit of both the dancers’ and audiences’ ability to withstand the kind of intensity the piece demands … There is no resolution… It happens and then it’s over and, like violence, the act is instantaneous while the remnants never disappear.’