5 Questions with Project Bound Dance’s Ashley Deran and Emily Loar on “Separate Thoughts, Shared Space”
How often have you read a description of something, only to find out what you have read does not accurately describe what you experience? It can be because the descriptions are too vague; sometimes the information is simply outdated. Choosing the right words will always be a tricky thing, especially when it comes to choosing the right words for a mission statement. Those choices of syntax and grammar can be nothing compared to the challenge of living up to what you have set before yourself, nor that as challenging as growing beyond and expanding on what was originally set forth. But, every now and then, the right mixture of people, energy, talent, and opportunity choose just the right words to define who they are. Better yet, they consistently put forth undeniable evidence of their progress and are eager to share it with all. Need an example? Take a look at Project Bound Dance:
“Under the direction of Ashley Deran and Emily Loar, Project Bound is a tri-focal dance collaboration aiming to foster community engagement, dance/technology experimentation, and socially conscious performance.”
There’s no better proof of their statement than to see the artists of Project Bound Dance in Separate Thoughts, Shared Space. Fostering community engagement? Bound is directly engaging the dance community by splitting the performance with Esoteric Dance Project. Furthermore, the split bill encourages the audiences of each respective company to come together, giving many the opportunity to see artists and works they may not have been exposed to otherwise. Dance/technology experimentation? The evening’s program features the culmination of this year’s One Hour Project, where Bound brings together dancer, choreographer, and videographer for 60 minutes to create a 60 second dance film. Socially conscious performance? You’ll have to read on get the answer to this one, especially since DancerMusic’s Kristi Licera got the answer to that question and more when she caught up with Project Bound Co-Artistic Directors Ashley Deran and Emily Loar. Here’s what they told us:
Ultimately, you have to find someone who you trust not only to do the work and meet mutual deadlines, but also someone whose work you support and respect and are open to showing in comparison with your own.
Kristi: As the cost of operating a dance ensemble continues to rise and funding becomes more difficult to come by, many companies are choosing to do present split bills – where two companies appear in a single concert, but do not necessarily share or collaborate on their works. Can you shed some light on the benefits of doing a split program? What are the most important components to take into consideration.
Emily Loar: There’s a sort of safety in numbers with a split bill performance – twice the funds, twice the audience, twice the number of people able to share the workload and stress of producing a concert. Generating material to fill an evening long performance can be daunting for a young dance company that is still building a repertory of works. We felt that combining everything with another company, including artistic content, felt a little like losing some part of our identity or artistic philosophy. Sharing an evening with a general theme really helps us bring a feeling of financial security, while still allowing a continuation of the trajectory of the new work we’re currently exploring. Ultimately, you have to find someone who you trust not only to do the work and meet mutual deadlines, but also someone whose work you support and respect and are open to showing in comparison with your own.
Emily and I loved the idea of working alongside an established modern dance company that was creating dance with two artistic directors.
Kristi: How did you come to decide to share a concert with Esoteric Dance Project? Can you tell us a little bit about Project Bound’s relationship with Esoteric?
Ashley Deran: I first crossed paths with Esoteric Dance Project when I moved back to Chicago after completing my degree at Western Michigan University. They were looking for another dancer while in residence at the Chicago Cultural Center and I was warmly welcomed into the company. In 2013, I co-founded Project Bound Dance creating my own interpretation of a choreographic partnership with Ericka Vaughn Byrne. I kept in touch with EDP over the years, having always admired Brenna and Chris’s navigating of their artistic process as a couple and the professionalism of their productions. Emily and I loved the idea of working alongside an established modern dance company that was creating dance with two artistic directors. Given our connection, we decided to see if EDP would be interested in joining us for a performance. They agreed, and we collaborated to create Separate Thoughts, Shared Spaces.
Esoteric Dance Project will be presenting several pieces of repertory including a vaudevillian trio piece that was created during my time with the company titled “After the Nickle Runs Out.”
The text I’m working with (which is both written and performed by me) is pretty dense. Phrases are spoken in rapid succession with the hope that you can only latch onto some meaningful fragments as they pass.
Kristi: Tell us about Project Bound’s Co-Artistic Director Emily Loar’s solo work, “A Theory on Staying.” Your press release tells us this piece explores “sexual identity, worth, and self-destructive habits.” Can you give us some insight to how you came to explore these ideas and how they inform the choreographic process and the resulting piece?
Emily Loar: “A Theory on Staying” is a solo inspired by and containing the writings of the journals I kept between 2013-2016. At the time, I was struggling with some mental health challenges and also dating a lot. I had also recently come out and was attempting to figure out how I wanted to present myself to the world both socially and artistically.
It’s a rather complicated story, but the short version is that I began secluding myself in a studio as way of finding discipline within my movement practice and to try to pull myself out of a depressive period. The movement is inspired by this sort of push and pull between social awkwardness and sensuality, just like the early stages of dating. The text I’m working with (which is both written and performed by me) is pretty dense. Phrases are spoken in rapid succession with the hope that you can only latch onto some meaningful fragments as they pass. My goal is to present sensitive, personal subject matter in a way that audience members can connect and relate, instead of making them into voyeurs.
The One Hour Project is an effort to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration within the Chicago arts community, while encouraging the exploration of Chicago’s outdoor spaces.
Kristi: Project Bound will also be presenting a series of short dance films that are the culmination of The One Hour Project alongside a work in progress that explores the impact, reception, and bombardment of popular and social media. Can you tell us more about The One Hour Project and the work in progress? Is there a relationship or correlation between the two works?
Ashley Deran: The One Hour Project is an exercise in collaboration and concision. Using the structure of a blind date, three artists – a choreographer, a Project Bound dancer and a video artist/videographer – are given one hour to design and shoot the footage for a 60 second dance film. The One Hour Project is an effort to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration within the Chicago arts community, while encouraging the exploration of Chicago’s outdoor spaces. The confines of the project allow artists of different disciplines an opportunity to safely collaborate with different mediums and build connections with fresh faces. We are so pleased to be showcasing seven new One Hour Projects this year including “Remembrances” which I created with Project Bound Dance Kathryn Hetrick and choreographer Nathalia Alarcon. This video has yet to be debuted so here is a DancerMusic exclusive:
Our work in progress piece, which is currently titled “Notified” examines media fatigue and the ways in which individuals digest and react to the never-ceasing 24 hour news cycle.
Emily Loar: I hadn’t actually considered a relationship between the two, but I’m thrilled that you’ve made this connection! It’s really something to think about. I guess the idea is that we’re overwhelmed by media, both in terms of news content and social content. It can take up a lot of time and I feel like I have to constantly filter what I see and hear. Even when huge events take place, I sometimes simply scroll past, feeling helpless. I don’t pretend to have the answers, but this is the feeling Ashley and I are starting to explore in our new work.
Kristi: Project Bound is celebrating its fourth anniversary season. How do you feel the company has grown over these last four years, and what do you see for it in both the immediate future and beyond?
Ashley Deran: Every rehearsal is still a refreshing surprise for me. Bound began a new chapter this year as co-founder Ericka Vaughn Byrne moved on to create new works in Arizona. I am so delighted to be working with Emily and I’m excited to see how we find our work flow and create new creative habits together over the next few seasons. We are looking forward to expanding “Notified” and continuing to create and screen #the1hourproject at festivals around the country. Stay tuned because we are only at the beginning of our adventures!
Project Bound Dance and Esoteric Dance Project will present Separate Thoughts, Shared Spaces Friday-Saturday, October 26th-27th at 8pm
and Sunday, October 28th at 6pm at The Edge Theater (5451 North Broadway, Chicago). Tickets are available online at www.brownpapertickets.com.
Visit the companies online to learn more about the artists: