The Real Story: Symbiosis Arts’ Braeden Barnes on “The Symbiosis Expo” in Denver
Symbiosis Arts founders Ryland Early and Braeden Barnes knew early on that their vision for the company would be one that sought fresh perspectives on dance through collaborations with both artists and audience.
Life is a journey made of questions, and the answers to those questions inform the paths we choose to walk. There are endless ways to find those answers, and many of those include seeking the advice of others. Their perspectives can be crucial to refining your response to life’s greatest questions, and when you can channel those perspectives collaboratively through dance, something truly spectacular happens. This is what the artists at Symbiosis Arts have taken to heart. The Symbiosis Expo, which premieres June 1 in Denver, brings together more than just a collaborative group of dancers and dance makers; it also takes into consideration the response the company has received over the last year from both professional peers and audience members.
This evening of dance aims to provide Denver audiences with a collection of works that speaks to the mission and future of Symbiosis Arts, plus the opportunity for open discussions between pieces.
Symbiosis Arts founders Ryland Early and Braeden Barnes knew early on that their vision for the company would be one that sought fresh perspectives on dance through collaborations with both artists and audience. Based on their interactions with audience members, the founders realized the importance of giving their current and potential audience in Denver another opportunity to understand Symbiosis Arts – its methods, aesthetic, mission, vision and what each of these components can add to the already rich atmosphere of the city. In lieu of creating an evening length production, Ryland and Braeden listened to and digested the insights that were shared with them, which heavily inform the nature and structure of The Symbiosis Expo. This evening of dance aims to provide Denver audiences with a collection of works that speaks to the mission and future of Symbiosis Arts, plus the opportunity for open discussions between pieces.
DancerMusic Dance Editor Kristi Licera caught up with Braeden Barnes to learn more about the growth and future of Symbiosis Arts and get an insights to the works that will be included in The Symbiosis Expo. Here’s what he told us:
I believe art is how we understand life better, and we grow from the questions we ask.
Kristi Licera: Symbiosis Arts is bringing a new perspective on dance to Denver audiences – one that is more global in its aesthetic and more interactive in its nature. Since the company’s successful debut performance last year, you and co-founder Ryland Early have been examining and refining your approach to presenting dance in Denver. Can you tell us more about the initial mission of Symbiosis? What have you learned about your Denver audience in the last year, and how will Expo be reflective of your growth?
Braeden Barnes: Our mission at Symbiosis is to educate and inspire a wide audience and find new platforms to showcase our collaborative art. Through collaboration, we want to show how art can evolve by layering mediums. Having a conversation with artists of different mediums can open up our minds to new possibilities we didn’t think possible.
One of my favorite things about last year’s performance was the ability to talk to audience members after about what they thought and took away from the show. This inspired us to educate our future audience in Denver to the different voices in dance and where we want to take dance in the future. Using art as a dialogue, we want to show our audience works that deal with life’s many questions. I believe art is how we understand life better, and we grow from the questions we ask.
The exciting part of the Symbiosis Expo will be the open dialogue between our audience and us. Sometimes when I have gone to see shows in the past, I am intimidated to go up to choreographers and dancers that I do not know and have a conversation about the show. At the Expo we want to eliminate that intimidation. We want to create an intimate space where we can open up the floor to discuss thoughts, questions, and “take-aways” in between each work. We want to show Denver more of who we are.
My work is collaboration between composer Christopher Cozzi and myself. Chris’ work spans multiple genres. He uses influence from his extreme metal guitar background and training in 20th century concert music composition.
Kristi: Symbiosis’ Expo features works by several choreographers including yourself, Ryland Early, Anna Long (Chicago) and Ben Youngstone of Denver-based contemporary ballet company, Wonderbound. Can you tell us more about each of the works in the program and how the collection of works represents the present and future of Symbiosis?
Braeden: At the Symbiosis Expo we will be presenting sections from our premiere show, Imprints, which will feature choreography from Jason Parsons, Ryland Early and myself. There will also be a tap performance by Lance Walker who performed improvisational work with us last summer.
In addition to our pieces from Imprints, Ryland and I will each present works to show the future of where Symbiosis is heading as the current resident choreographers. I will be presenting a new work in progress entitled Arrhythmia. My work is collaboration between composer Christopher Cozzi and myself. Chris’ work spans multiple genres. He uses influence from his extreme metal guitar background and training in 20th century concert music composition. The piece of music Chris and I created together for my new work will be entirely created from percussion instruments.
Ryland will be resetting a work that debuted in October 2018 with a cast of 4 women and himself. As Ryland puts it, “While trying to discover more classical lines and ideas in my choreography, I found myself going back to the same ‘tropes’ I always use in choreography. I decided to embrace this idea and am now presenting this piece with a cast of dancers whose genders are reversed from the original — 4 men and a woman. This process has changed my viewpoint of the piece, and I might like this version better.”
The piece was created and re-staged on two real life couples, which has directed the process through a study on intimacy as it connects to movement and storytelling.
Anna Long, who is a certified Gaga instructor, will bring her inspiration from the Gaga movement to her own brilliant choreography. This will show how we want to bring in outside voices and influences to work on the company. Anna will present her work Deep and Crisp and Even (premiered 2017, re-staged 2019). This piece tells the story of two lovers searching for passions buried and frozen over time. They begin digging deep into the depths of each other’s hearts, figuratively and literally. The pair look for the lifeblood of love and when they find it, it’s not exactly what they expected, nor how they remembered it. The piece was created and re-staged on two real life couples, which has directed the process through a study on intimacy as it connects to movement and storytelling.
This is who we are. This is what we do. We want to start a conversation with you.
We also wanted to work with local choreographers and chose Ben Youngstown to begin our relationship with artists in the Denver community. Ben will present a work that is a solo exploration of the intersection between film and live performance. Often film elements in dance are used as a backdrop or to show different angles of live performances. Rather than using these established modes of film, he intends to build interaction between the live performer and the filmed element to provoke the audience into considering the definition and limitations of live performance.
From my and Ryland’s works, to the outside voices of Anna and Ben, we want to showcase the artists that will make up the essence of what Symbiosis hopes to bring to Denver in the present and in the future. This is who we are. This is what we do. We want to start a conversation with you.
Symbiosis Arts presents The Symbiosis Expo Saturday, June 1 at Slash-o (8110 W 50th Ave
Arvada, CO 80002). Doors open at 6pm, show begins at 6:30pm. Tickets are available online via Brown Paper Tickets.
For more information, visit symbiosisarts.org.