Written by Mariko Nagashima
|Coriolis Co-founders and dancers Natascha Greenwalt Murphy and Christin Call
Photo by Ernie Sapiro
Design by Call
Over the last five years, Coriolis Dance Collective has established themselves as a tenaciously independent and talented group. Co-founders Natascha Greenwalt Murphy and Christin Call have steadily built a repertoire of twenty four original pieces, all works created for the company by well recognized choreographers (Zoe Scofield and Lauren Edson of Trey McIntyre Project among them). And while Coriolis has been presented in local festivals like On the Boards’ Northwest New Works, Seattle International Dance Festival’s Spotlight on Seattle, and Chop Shop, the company’s annual presentation of Co-LAB is when the group shows truly shines. This year, Co-LAB runs over the course of two weekends, May 3–4 and 10–11, at the Erickson Theater. In a retrospective fashion, Co-LAB 5 seems to recall how far the company has come by revisiting several works in the repertoire, but also forges ahead with new works by both Call and original company member Andrea Larreta. In an interview with SeattleDances, Greenwalt Murphy and Call discussed the company and their upcoming show.
SD: Tell us about the history of Co-LAB and how it has developed over the years.
NGM and CC: Co-LAB began as a chance for us to work with a varied group of choreographers so we could challenge ourselves as artists by working within multiple aesthetics, something we felt we weren’t experiencing within the typical Seattle choreographer-as-artistic-director company set up while still having the consistency and community of a company of dancers. We wanted to push the bounds of a repertoire company by focusing on collaboration between disciplines and by drawing new pairings of choreographers and collaborative artists together.
The most significant thing to change within the Co-LAB structure is presenting our own choreographic works. This was not our original intention with Co-LAB but most have featured our work in some capacity. This is the first year that we took on more of the collaborative and visual element ourselves as well.
SD: Tell us about the choreographers new to Co-LAB this year, and what can we expect from their pieces?
NGM and CC: For the first time a company member (excepting the Co-founders) is presenting work at Co- LAB. Andrea Larreta has been dancing with Coriolis for five years and has always had a way of attacking movement with deep, internal energy and conviction that is uniquely hers. For the past two years, she has been studying American Sign Language and deaf culture. Her piece, Depicting Verbs, combines her forceful, broad, and emotive qualitative style of dance, with hand signs and their accompanying facial expressions to tell a story that is intensely personal and incredibly animated.
Christin Call is also showing a new work created in collaboration with violinist and otherwise digital musician Jackie An titled The gentle abduction of Esther Williams. Based around an improvised structure in which Christin and Jackie created scores for each other, the piece is an homage to the Hollywood star of the 40’s and 50’s who created the swimming spectacle genre of movies. In the piece she is re-imagined as a time-traveling Asian American who loves all things furry and does her pool exercises diligently so her limbs won’t fall off. Christin’s movement style is a disjunctive mix of quirky articulations, absurd gesturing, and the strictly classical. Jackie provides some side-ripping monologues and a seesaw-like score that teeters between grim intensity and the ridiculous.
SD: Several of the pieces in the Co-LAB 5 are works you’ve performed before. What has the re-staging process been like? Have the works changed much since you last visited them?
NGM and CC: Only one piece, Lauren Edson’s Real Gone is being shown with the original cast. This of course made it the easiest to set. Within the other works we have traded parts, cast alternate genders, added and subtracted dancers. This has definitely changed the relationships within the pieces; even the same choreography has a new energy. With our encouragement to revisit and re-explore, Zoe Scofield’s when we were young took on an entirely new existence and is now when we were young II. It retained it’s original costumes designed by Paul D. McKee and one duet but is otherwise new material. Across the board it’s been an experiential lesson in the fact that dance is a living art form. In our desire to perform some of these pieces again so we could push further from where we were at in that point in time, we discovered we might just forge a whole new path instead. Our company is different, the choreographers coming to revisit their work are in different points in their lives, we are different.
SD: The company’s seen a few changes this season with the addition of new dancers to your group of four leading ladies (Greenwalt Murphy, Call, Larreta, and Marissa Quimby). How has the process of expanding the company been?
NGM and CC: It’s exciting to have the energy of so many people on stage, and to welcome back dancers we’ve worked with in the past, however you will still see an ample representation of the “leading ladies.” Our time working in a smaller capacity allowed us to develop our individual voices and our unity as the women of the company so that it was easy to bring in a larger group. It has had its logistical challenges, to be sure, but in the end this is an incredibly strong group of dancers with a lot to offer as performers. It’s a pleasure to be able to provide that opportunity for more dancers to grow and be seen by Seattle audiences.
Co-LAB 5 can be seen at the Erickson Theater May 3–4 and 10–11 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are available here.