Meet the Artist: Carol Finley
August 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
Michele Trumble, our Dance Project intern, recently chatted with Carol Finley, professor of dance at Meredith college, about her choreographic process and her dance, “Kitchen Stories,” that will be touring with the NC Dance Festival. Interview: June 22, 2012
Dance Project: The effort that goes into keeping up appearances and the toll it can take on us physically and emotionally is something I think just about everyone can relate to – tell me a little bit about what inspired Kitchen Stories?
Carol Finley: Desperate Housewives was fairly new then, and although I did not watch the show more than once or twice, the content was such a big part of television culture it was hard to escape. I did watch a BBC show actually entitled “Keeping Up Appearances” at the time and just felt drawn to explore those themes. The idea of housekeeping and being a neighbor as competition is highly present in the work and since one of the original cast members was on the Meredith College softball team, I employed her expertise in some of the movement.
DP: Was the text found or created? What is one of the biggest challenges working with dancers and text?
CF: I created the text. The biggest challenge in working with text is the dancers’ comfort with the material and their volume. I really like for the sound to come from the stage rather than through speakers so that the audience can be very sure who is speaking. When there is a lot of movement on stage and the sound is amplified it can be too much work for the audience to figure that out. But, it is also work for the audience when the volume isn’t enough. So, I have to make that choice, to mic or not to mic, in each venue.
DP: How is to work with so many props? Did you ever find them frustrating during the choreographic and rehearsal process? Did they inspire movement invention you might not have thought of without them?
CF: Props definitely inspire movement invention, they help connect the audience to a theme, and help keep dancers focused on character and intention. The only thing I find frustrating about props is the amount of time it takes to set up for a run.
DP: Tell me a little bit about the movement invention for this piece. It looks as though movement was a lot of fun to play with within this structure/idea. Did you set most of it or were your dancers a part of the process?
CF: I originally set this piece on students and they were very involved in the movement invention. I created the gestural movement at the carts and one phrase of bigger movement. I taught it to the cast and had them work on variations which everyone learned. That formed the full vocabulary for the first edition of the piece. The first section changed a lot when I re-staged for professional dancers the first time and most of that movement came from me. The last section became fuller, physically, when I re-staged for the current cast.
DP: Re-staging can be exciting, but are there any stressors/fears about re-staging seven years later?
CF: I knew I had a good video of this and I had performed it myself in 2005, so I had a good physical memory of it too, so I wasn’t particularly stressed about re-setting. I have re-set work enough to know that it can be tedious and takes nearly as much time as creating new work, so I planned enough rehearsal time for it. I think the dancers were fairly frustrated with the piece up until the final rehearsals, when it really gelled for them and they could enjoy performing.
DP: How do you balance your creative work as a professor of dance at Meredith College, and work for both Carol Finley Dance Group and It Must Have Been Violet. Do they feed each other? Does the work you do for each ever bump up against each other?
CF: The work that I create for the Carol Finley Dance Group is part of the professional activity required of an academic appointment. Instead of publishing articles or writing books, I am producing original choreography (lucky me!). The creative work that I do with students can feed my professional choreography and vice versa. It Must Have Been Violet is a production company, so the other directors and I produce our work together. That means more performance opportunities, nationally, for Carol Finley Dance Group, which is great for the professional activity aspect of my professorship, so yes, they all feed each other.
Catch Carol’s dance, “Kitchen Stories,” in Raleigh on Saturday, September 8, Boone on Thursday, October 25, Greensboro on Saturday, November 3, Wilmington on Sunday, January 13, and Charlotte on Saturday, January 26.
Up next on the blog: A sneak peak at Code f.a.d. Company’s dance Julep! Tune in next Monday…