A pair of dancers engages Carbondale to inspire its latest work | PostIndependent.com

A pair of dancers engages Carbondale to inspire its latest work

Carla Jean Whitley

Breathe. Notice. Self determine. Think. Act.

David Norsworthy and Marielis Garcia guided a group through those steps during two movement workshops this week. They encouraged those gathered at Carbondale’s The Launchpad to root themselves in the present moment.

It’s a lesson the pair of dancers tries to embrace each day.

“Marielis and I are interested in creating choreography that’s time specific and place specific,” Norsworthy said.

“We’re making real-time decisions. That’s really where this workshop comes in,” Garcia added. The workshops will culminate in a Saturday performance.

The duo was rehearsing for a show when a friend approached Garcia about guest teaching an arts appreciation course. She went to Norsworthy and began brainstorming what that could look like—she didn’t want to approach the class in a traditional manner. Both are classically trained, but interested in dance beyond the traditional form of making and then displaying the work.

The class didn’t work out, but Garcia and Norsworthy’s choreographic partnership did.

“How funny is it that everything we’re working on is dealing with the possibility of failing or changing directions and the very first thing we tried didn’t happen,” he said.

The pair spent months exchanging ideas, not just about dance steps but also about their shared philosophies on contemporary art and dance.

“To be contemporary artists is to be of this moment,” Norsworthy said. “We’re not interested in self-generating the whole thing, but challenging ourselves to be in the moment.

That’s where Carbondale comes in.

This week’s workshops and Saturday’s studio performance are the first touring expression of that ideology.

The exercises were simple; the choreographers asked the group to begin by walking through the room. They then guided attention to breath, and then asked participants to notice things they may not have previously. That could be light, shadow, color, anything.

“This is about asking yourself what more there is to see,” Norsworthy said. “We do this as a way of contemplating the possibilities.”

After each of the workshop exercises, the dancers led discussion about what the participants experienced. Garcia and Norsworthy’s performance will reflect that, but just how that shows up is truly a work in progress. The pair established a working plan early in the week, which Norsworthy dubbed their “guiding light.”

“There’s a safety in a plan, but there’s also a beautiful safety in anything goes,” Garcia said.

The workshops offered them a chance to listen to the community in an intimate setting. That, coupled with their walks around the town, will be reflected in their choreography.

Their process includes a lot of discussion and journaling, in addition to the physical act of dance. They’ve also explored The Launchpad to discover what materials are available and how they might interact with the space.

In all those interactions, they ask “How do I respond naturally and openly without judgment of what’s happening,” Garcia said.

The pair will attempt to create a similar atmosphere when they perform Saturday. They want the audience to feel like they belong, although they won’t direct how they should think and feel about the performance.

“We want to tickle the emotional sensibility of people,” Norsworthy said.

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