Chances are good that many in the Seattle audiences have heard the buzz surrounding the upcoming zoe | juniper performance, BeginAgain, this weekend at On the Boards. (If you are unfamiliar, check out these articles from City Arts and Seattle Times.) For the uninitiated, zoe | juniper is the collaborative partnership between dance artist Zoe Scofield and visual artist Juniper Shuey, and BeginAgain is their newest evening-length performance. SeattleDances got the inside scoop on BeginAgain in a recent interview with dancer Ariel Freedman.
A Julliard graduate, Freedman’s biography sports names that shine brightly in the world of contemporary dance, including Aszure Barton, Larry Keigwin, and Crystal Pite—not to mention her time spent dancing with Batsheva Dance Company in Israel. These days, Freedman resides in Israel but freelances on projects internationally, the latest of which is BeginAgain. Freedman spoke about the international, multi-time-zoned rehearsal process with Scofield.
The two met in the fall of 2011, when Freedman was referred to Scofield by a New York director as an “interesting person to get to know.” Following a workshop at NYC’s The Playground, Scofield invited Freedman that same night to an exploratory movement session with two other dancers. Although interested in working together further on a project, time and location constraints presented problems. Last October, Freedman visited Seattle for the first time to set an Ohad Naharin work at Cornish College of the Arts (she also frequently teaches classes in Naharin’s gaga technique, including a five-day series at Velocity last week). During this visit, the two dancers met both in and out of the studio to discuss BeginAgain and the possibilities for making the project work within their schedules.
Aside from two short periods in NYC in December and January, prior to the most recent weeks in Seattle leading up to performance, most of the rehearsal process was conducted via Skype. Freedman commented that much of the time was spent “getting to know each other,” building a shared artistic trust. These early conversations were “most notable” for the dialogue spurred between the two artists. Freedman likened the activity to a “testing [of] the waters” and a “gathering” of ideas. Through improvisational snippets, written prompts, and a discussion of conceptual ideas, the mental processes of the artists eventually generated physical manifestations of movement, which they shared electronically. Put that way, rehearsals across time zones seem doable, especially by a company known for multi-tasking, multi-media collaborations.
When asked about what to expect at BeginAgain, Freedman was more coy, responding that audiences should anticipate the unexpected in a media-rich, immersive experience—“a small universe” created within the On the Boards space.
BeginAgain runs Thursday, March 27, through Sunday, March 30, in the Mainstage Theater at On the Boards. Tickets are $20 and are available here.