Meet the Artist: Gaspard Louis

August 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

Michele Trumble, our Dance Project summer intern, chatted recently with North Carolina dancer/choreographer Gaspard Louis about his choreographic process, his piece that will be touring with the NC Dance Festival, and his current work. Interview: June 13, 2012

Photo by Robin Gallant

Dance Project: When did you first create Magical Cusp and what was the inspiration behind the piece?

Gaspard Louis:  I created Magical Cusp in 2011. I did not have any preconceived idea as to what the piece was going to be; except that I wanted to do a duet that would be easy enough for my body to handle. Having danced for Pilobolus for 10 years, I wanted to take it easy on my body. However, upon the creation of the piece, it was hard to fight against what seemed to want to take place naturally.

DP: Do you ever feel like a piece  (this one specifically or others if you have re-staged more) lose something in the re-staging process? Do you find something new each time?

GL: I have not yet re-staged Magical Cusp. However, in my past experience when I re-stage a piece, sometimes the piece turns out better, other times not so much. It all depends on the group of dancers. I may have had a dancer with a great upper body strength and during a re-staging I may have a dancer with less upper body strength or vice versa. To me, a piece is never fully done until after a year in of performing it. There’s always room for improvement.

DP: There is a lot of intimate partner work in Magical Cusp. How do you go about choreographing that? Do you have images in your head? Wait to get dancers in the studio?

GL: To me the intimacy comes from being very comfortable with your dance partner. Both dancers trust each other and respect each other so much they let the dance take over. I felt very comfortable with Kristin, plus it helped that she’s a great partner. Sometimes, I may have a specific image in mind or a story and share it with the dancers or partner if I don’t feel the connection. Sometimes they may feel more comfortable relating to the image or story.

Photo by Robin Gallant

DP: How much do you set on your dancers and how much do you ask them to contribute to the choreographic process?

GL: In the beginning I had to come up with 90% of the choreography for my dancers, but the more they dance with me the less I do with regards to creating the movement. Now I would come up with lots of mini phrases and ask them to add  eight or sixteen counts to each phrase and work from there. I much prefer to have them contribute to the process.  Not only is it easier on me, they also look good performing it since it is their own natural movements. Ultimately, I have the final say as to how everything is put together.

DP: How has working for ten years with Pilobolus influenced your choreographic work? What did you keep with you and what did you shed?

GL:  It is very hard not to be influenced by Pilobolus, especially after working with them for ten years. My choreographic process is very much Pilobolian; especially in my latest work Souke– everyone contributed something. That is what makes the piece unique and interesting. Of course, I had to guide the dancers quite a bit, since I was working with a specific story line, which was about the earthquake in Haiti. That choreography is less Pilobolian and is a departure  from them as well. A lot less heavy lifting and more free flow dancing. That was actually more my training/style prior to joining Pilobolus. The challenge for me is how well I can connect that style to my current Pilobolus style.

DP: Gaspard & Dancers has been creating and presenting for three years now.  What are some of the current projects/pieces you are working on besides touring for the NC Dance Festival?

GL: The company has recently finished its third annual performance at Duke University.  I will start the ADF/Hollins University MFA first thing tomorrow morning for the next eight weeks. My immediate goal is to concentrate and work as hard as I can to get my degree at the end of the summer. Then I will revert my attention back to the company. After the summer I will start working on making new work for the company season performances in the fall of 2013; and teach for the ADF community outreach program.

Many thanks to Gaspard for talking with us!  Catch the intimate duet “Magical Cusp” in Raleigh on Friday, Sept 7, Boone on Saturday, 10/27, Greensboro on Friday, 11/2, Wilmington on Friday, 1/11, and Charlotte on Friday, 1/25.

Up next on the blog: Check out the Meredith College Affiliate Artist Ashley Spears, who will be presenting her work alongside the touring artists in Raleigh!

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