An Afternoon with Da•Da•Dance

Da∙Da∙Dance (Eun Jung Choi-Gonzalez, Guillermo Ortega Tanus and Helena Franzén) brings an evening entitled Butter and Fly: intends to walk to Joyce SoHo this weekend (July 30-Aug 1).  Program Assistant, Justin D. Wright spent an afternoon with the company and shares some of his observations with us:

As we awkwardly shuffled seats around my desk and politely asked about our summer plans I couldn’t help but notice that all three of them had modest accents on their English, none of them with the same dialect or able to be recognized as coming from the same place. It wouldn’t exactly take detective work to look at them and realize that they might come from different backgrounds, but it was interesting to hear them talk to each other. I was more interested in their similarities, however, as all three were involved in this weekend’s show, so I tucked that observation away and got down to the business of art.

Eun Jung, originally from Korea, has short, dark hair, happy eyes and a bright smile whenever she speaks. Helena, a naturally bright blond haired woman with a Finnish accent sat to her left and Guillermo, Eun Jung’s thoughtful artistic partner from Mexico City sat to her right. They were a cheerful group, happy to be in each other’s company, which I couldn’t help but smile at.

They were certainly a busy bunch this summer. Helena’s only in New York for another two weeks while they rehearse for the show, which features her choreography in Tiny Voices. I couldn’t get over how fantastically far away she lives and mentioned it several times, each time to her amusement. She and Eun Jung hadn’t seen each other in quite some time when Helena made Tiny Voices specifically for them, reuniting the two old friends after far too long, they said. Eun Jung and Guillermo have been rehearsing with each other both in Philadelphia for the nEW Festival, where they have received overlapping residencies – Eun Jung’s finishing up with Guillermo’s just starting. While there, Eun Jung was performing her finished piece Blueprint, part of the lineup for her show here at Joyce SoHo.

When they weren’t working together in Philadelphia she was teaching dance at the North Carolina Governors School West at Salem College, which is a truly wonderful program for gifted high school juniors/seniors to have the opportunity to work intensely at their artform. For many of them it’s their first opportunity, as it certainly was mine when I was younger. Guillermo and she would rehearse during the off hours, preparing for this upcoming show amongst their other projects. One has to think that if she has the endurance to maintain such an active rehearsal schedule then she should really consider being the first dancer to prance a marathon.

I asked them about their pieces for the weekend, what to expect from the show, blatantly asking for teaser quotes for this very article. I was intrigued by a document that I have here asking for words that best describe the company. Parts of their answers included words like “absurdity” or “travesty,” which obviously pique curiosity. “We use… a certain theater mentality, although not necessarily anything linear like a storyline. While we use text occasionally, it’s not necessarily relevant to that moment in the context yet, but it could be revealed to be much more important later on.”

Guillermo’s piece Blood Orange has text set to music by a Mexican singer named Valentina Gonzáles, who creates vocal loops during her performance. Normally a self-described pop singer, she used this opportunity to experiment a bit while she arranged this especially for Da∙Da∙Dance. “It’s more of a piece that shows the awkward and weird way that we learn to approach other people. Like the steps we take to have permission to touch her hand.”

Even more musicians will join them during their piece Ploy, which uses original music from Andrew Drewey, a local New York City percussionist. Eun Jung’s Blueprint has music composed by Alban Bailly, a French fellow living in Philadelphia. This piece explores isolation instead of relationships, she says, providing a nice counterpoint.

Helena’s work Tiny Voices is an exploration at how very small gestures can make very loud statements when placed in that context. She worked very, very closely with a Finnish composer named Jukka Rintamäki. She mentioned that the piece was based on “curves in space,” which made me wonder if she worked so closely with a composer because music is absolutely fixed in its relationship to time, although it turned out to be more about the size of gestures. “I want them to have one voice,” she said. “It’s important for creating this landscape.”

In between all of this are videos that Eun Jung directed, which will be presented on televisions alongside the floor. The videos thematically connect the middle sections and feature the Lince Siblings, who I gather are comedically gifted.

After a while I thanked them and asked them where we’d see them next, what they were up to, and whether or not they’d all be together again soon. Guillermo’s going to continue work with the nEW festival in Philadelphia with Eun Jung. Both of them will be starting collaborations and workshops for the fall, eventually hoping to tour in the spring. Helena goes back to Stockholm in two weeks to continue with her commissions there.

“We’d like to do this show somewhere else, though….maybe in Guadalajara.”
“Maybe Finland.”

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