The devil is in the details, so they say. Anna Conner, the choreographer and Artistic Director of Anna Conner + CO, has the details down. Conner has been developing the particulars of her latest project, LUNA, for over a year and a half, treating Seattle audiences to various movement studies of the work throughout the process. Though she’s certainly adept at constructing intricate choreography, what sets Conner’s work apart is the attention she pays to the environment in which she frames the movement.
A prime example was her first full length production, Beautiful Recluse (2011), which transformed the then-Erickson Theatre into a sinister living room. And it wasn’t just the stage space. Empty picture frames hung throughout the theater, and heavy curtains, distressed furniture, and even delicately printed playbills helped viewers sink into a work that delivered a fearless and unsettling look at female oppression. Unfortunately, very few people saw the impressive and enduringly haunting Recluse.Three years later, and fortunately for Seattle audiences, Conner has since built a solid presence in the Seattle dance community with performances in the BOOST dance festival, Velocity’s Bridge Project, Chop Shop, and 12 Minutes Max. A successful fundraiser last month also helped LUNA arrive at its final stage. Audiences can expect more of the immersive power Conner showed in Recluse as she transforms Velocity’s three studios into the world that is LUNA. Some of the details this time around include a nest-like installation, all kinds of hanging lights, video projections, and of course, those flower-covered head pieces from The Bridge Project. The final realization of the work premieres this Friday, March 21, and runs through Sunday, March 23, at 7:30 PM at Velocity Dance Center. SeattleDances had the opportunity to ask Conner a few questions about the creation of LUNA.
SD: How did the idea for LUNA originate?
AC: The original idea actually came from rioting against each other to get ahead, and having to do something with the government. I always think about how horrible people can be towards each other. People can be so vicious, like wild dogs. It’s been so long since the beginning, and [the piece] has become something so different that I can’t even remember the exact original idea. It still has a similar idea of the viciousness of man. We can be so beautiful as people but because of the experiences that life throws at us along the way we become hardened and hateful at times. LUNA is full of power struggles.
SD: LUNA has had several iterations over the past year or so. How has the work evolved and changed throughout the process?
AC: The work has become a solidified world. It has definitely become something different than I set out to make. I set out to make an in-your-face work, and, instead, it has become an interactive and inclusive work. It’s become a world of its own, whereas before it was just an idea.
SD: What have been some of the biggest challenges in mounting a work of this magnitude?
AC: One of the biggest challenges with making this work has been money. I have all these grandiose ideas, but I’m having to scale them back to what I can truly do financially. I also have lost some brilliant collaborators along the way. The original idea was of a larger cast, but because of the long commitment and how busy people are, it is the three of us [Conner, Julia Cross, and Autumn Tselios]. We three have become sisters in every sense of the term. We fight, we love, we yell, we cry, etc., which happens to work out perfectly with the world we have created.
SD: Much of LUNA evokes a very specific sense of place, especially with your use of set pieces, installations, and video. Where are you hoping LUNA will transport the audience?
AC: When people walk through the doors, I want them to feel like they’ve stepped into a Kubrick film. I want them to feel the underlying dark energy in such a beautiful space. I want them to feel like anything can happen.
SD: There’s been a lot of juxtaposition in the previous versions of the piece. It feels feminine but almost misogynistic; there’s images of beauty mixed with sadness and violence. How do you relate these opposites together, and how do they play off each other in LUNA?
AC: My life has been filled with beauty and sadness. I think everyone can relate. I’ve been hurt emotionally by people I love. I’ve been hurt physically and verbally by strangers, but this hurt has made me who I am. It’s made me see the beauty of life and what life can be. It’s made me love and appreciate my daughter and husband so much more than if I’d never experienced it. I’m a protector now, and this work plays with the balance of being a protector with a heavy hand or lovingly. That’s why I say [LUNA is] a delicately violent world. We love each other, but there is a lot of pain and struggle involved.