Let’s make a painting, a magic one. Let’s paint a picture of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre’s Inside/Out: Ameican Catracho.
In the foreground of the picture is Cerqua Rivera’s performance on Wednesday, June 20th at 7pm, at Evanston’s beautiful new dance and music venue Studio5. There Artistic Director Wilfredo Rivera, CRDT Co-founder Joe Cerqua, and other participants in the creative process will offer a look into the making of American Catracho, the large-scale work that Rivera launched in 2016, and which will be completed this year.
American Catracho explores the experience of immigrants and refugees who, like Rivera himself, venture to leave what they know to find a new life in a new land. It’s been a major, three year project for the Company, and although there’s a lot in the foreground, there’s even more in the background.
There’s even more in the background, and all of it changes what you see when you see Cerqua Rivera perform.
For example, CRDT Co-founder Joe Cerqua has composed the original score for the work, which is performed live by the musical component of this combined Dance and Music company. Because this is such an integral part of the creation of everything Cerqua Rivera does, the intensity and originality of the music changes the intensity and originality of all of the movement. In their performances, every part informs every other part, and all at once.
Working with Rivera on the choreography are Noelle Kayser and Christian Denise, and as we learn from Noelle in our interview, the process of putting together the movement design is yet another background dynamic that brings a richer texture to what CRDT shares with its audiences.
There’s even more in the background, and all of it changes what you see when you see Cerqua Rivera perform. There’s an extraordinary ensemble of dancers, each of them capable of bringing a world of perspective to their performance. There’s Cerqua Rivera’s commitment to diversity and acceptance, a dynamic that both inspires the Company’s work and is embodied in it.
Taken all together, it turns the whole picture into a kind of magic painting, because each time you look closely at what is in the background, what you see in the foreground will change. Knowing that, we asked Noelle Kayser to give us even more background on the process of making American Catracho, and here’s what she told us.
I am very curious about both the joy and barriers people experience coming to this country on either side of the bookends of life.
Johnny Nevin: The is the third stage of the development of American Catracho, which began in 2016 and will be completed this year. The development of this work has been an unusually careful and in-depth way to explore a subject in choreography — can you tell us a little more about what these stages of development were, and what you and Christian and Wilfredo are working on for the movement design this year?
Noelle Kayser: The work is like a funnel. Each year we get get closer to examining the individual vs community experience of deciding to immigrate, the crossing over and, finally, assimilation. In the past two processes the initial directive was to dive into ‘the decision’ or ‘the crossing’.
In preparation for the creation of the final installment, Wilfredo sent Christian and I a list of perspectives to hone in on. I chose the elderly and young student perspective. I am very curious about both the joy and barriers people experience coming to this country on either side of the bookends of life. There is so much nuance to how a person navigates beginning a new life in this country based upon their age, the culture from which they came, who is still with them, and who is left behind. I found myself making small movement and complex patterns as a way to reference as many of these personal experiences as possible.
Johnny: You’re own experience in different roles in concert dance — not roles on stage but different creative roles — has covered a lot of ground. As a dancer, you’ve worked with many of today’s most respected choreographers, and as a choreographer yourself, you’re often in the role of creating and developing an entire work according to your own vision. It seems like your role in American Catracho must include many of these different kinds of art and expertise, being one of the choreographers but in a very collaborative kind of creative process. Can you tell us about how that has compared to your many other artistic experiences?
It is so interesting to let go of the movement I’ve created and see how it lives inside the whole.
Noelle: Being involved in a long term collaborative creation has been such a unique experience for me. Whenever I step into the studio, my intention is to create interjections rather than full sentences. I have ideas of ‘scenes’ I’d like to create but don’t necessarily intend for them to be shown together or in a particular order. It is up to Wilfredo whether to show what I’ve created as is or remix it with Christian’s or his own sections. I see this way of working so important to the subject matter of Catracho because it binds all the choreographers together in a way that is impossible in a traditional repertory performance. It is so interesting to let go of the movement I’ve created and see how it lives inside the whole.
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre will present Inside/Out: American Catracho at Studio5 (1934-38 Dempster Street, Evanston, IL, 6020) on Wednesday, June 20th at 7pm. Tickets are $8 to $20 and are available online at eventbrite
PHOTOS (from top): Brennen Renteria and Briana Arthur in Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in American Catracho (Photo byDan Kasberger) • Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in American Catracho (Photo by Andrew Flaherty) • Noelle Kayser (Photo by Choe Hamilton) • Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in American Catracho (Photo byDan Kasberger) • Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in American Catracho (Photo byDan Kasberger) • Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre in American Catracho (Photo byDan Kasberger)