Portland-based NW Dance Project is renowned for their dedication to new choreography. They’ll be making their Purchase PAC debut one week from today, and we wanted to learn a little more about them. Enjoy our quick little interview!
Q: What is it that you hope to communicate to your audiences through your dance?
A: In a word, “humanity.” We hope to take them some place. To be “transportive.” We hope to inspire them with the unique and athletic beauty that dance offers. Sometimes there is story or themes present, sometimes not. Sometimes the choreographers just want to explore the beauty of the human form and human interactions. People should never be intimidated by dance. We all know what the human body and movement is, so we all fundamentally understand dance. What each audience members gets out of each piece is valid and there is no test at the end.
Q: Is there a genre of music that you find that your performances are most inspired by?
A: Our choreographers are given complete artistic freedom when creating for us, so it’s really up to them. Our Artistic Director, Sarah Slipper, whose work represents just 10% or so of our entire mixed repertoire, is partial to “cinematic contemporary classical” from current-day composers such as Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds, and Owen Belton.
Q: How does NW Dance Project break away from the traditions of the dance world?
A: We only perform original works and we have a wide range of incredible choreographers creating the works on us. Most contemporary companies are single-choreographer situations or repertoire companies that perform works that are “tried and true.” NW Dance Project has created and premiered over 270 works from choreographers from around the world. All of these diverse works have been created on the company in our Portland studios. We also hire differently, selecting company dancers from the groups of professional and pre-professional dancers participating in our two-week summer LAUNCH project. A dancer’s disposition, character, and personality have to be the right fit for us since we are like a family.
Q: How many hours a day on average do you practice?
A: Typically, we train Monday – Friday, doing a 1.5 hour ballet class first thing (9:30am) followed by two blocks of rehearsals separated by an hour for lunch. So, we work just under 8 hours a day.
Q: How do you prepare on the morning of a performance?
A: A big, healthy breakfast (Franco is partial to breakfast burritos) and morning ballet class. Gotta feed and warm-up the body.
Tickets to see NW Dance Project at The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College on November 2 are still available by calling 914-251-6200 or online at https://www.artscenter.org/events/nw-dance-project/