Meet the Artist: Lauren Kearns

October 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

Dance Project intern, Michele Trumble, chatted with Burlington choreographer/dancer Lauren Kearns about her choreographic process and company The Kearns Dance Project. Interview June 28, 2012.

The Kearns Dance Project by Grant Halverson

Dance Project: How did the idea for Twister come about? How did it evolve as you were working?

Lauren Kearns: I was asked to choreograph a piece for the Fall 2007 North Carolina Dance Festival Local Greensboro Show and was told that the theater would be configured in the round. I was excited at the prospect of choreographing a new piece with that spatial orientation in mind. The game twister came to mind because it is ‘performed’ in the round and requires players to physically solve spatial problems. I thought it would be a creative jumping off point for the piece.

DP: Re-staging can be exciting, but are there any stressors/fears about re-staging for a proscenium stage with new dancers five years later?

LK: I’m looking forward to re-staging this piece with new dancers. I don’t have any stressors or fears about it. I am keeping the spatial orientation of the piece in the round and think that will give the proscenium audience a unique viewing point.

DP: Did you and/or your dancers play any Twister to inform the making of the piece?

LK: Not really. In my creative research, I looked at the game structure and in my movement exploration I thought about the structure of the game but didn’t actually play the game. I think that would have been limiting to my creativity.

“Twister” by Lauren Kearns. Photo by Chris Walt.

DP: There is a lot of negotiating negative space in Twister, much like the game itself. How do you approach partner choreography?

LK: I love choreographing duets and partner work because I enjoy solving the various physical problems that come up when designing intricate lifts and phrase work. I often have partnering ideas when I enter the studio and generally put myself in the part of one of the dancers. I then begin a type of structured improvisation with the other dancer and the process of ‘physically figuring it out’ takes place. The other dancer then steps in, learns the patterns/lift sequences and then I watch and shape it from the outside.

DP: Having produced over forty professional concert pieces, how has your choreographic process evolved?

LK: This is a great question. I tend to start with an idea or concept and then do a lot of creative research before I enter the studio. Once I’m in the studio, I’m very intuitive and allow the physical movement generation to lead.  Up until six years ago, I danced in the majority of my own choreography. That is challenging because I found myself simultaneously concerned with my dancing/performance AND shaping the work. I haven’t created a new piece or role for myself in the past six years and I’ve found that my creative decision making is quicker and sharper and that my crafting process is more efficient.

DP: Tell me about The Kearns Dance Project. When was it started and what have been some of your latest projects besides your upcoming tour with the North Carolina Dance Festival?

LK: We had our first performance in American Dance Festival’s 2007 Acts to Follow Series. I’ve been presenting regularly in North Carolina since and have recently decided to turn the dance company into a non-profit dance organization. The mission of The Kearns Dance Project is three-fold: First, to enrich, educate and entertain audiences by producing innovative and dynamic choreography. The second, to create collaborative opportunities for artists to develop talents in all aspects of dance production and third, to provide thought-provoking educational outreach programs to the greater community through the art of dance. This past January, I presented a work-in-progress of my latest duet, Stuck in Time, at the Movement Research’s Open Performance Series in NYC. In March, I traveled with nine Elon University dance majors to the La Semaine de la Danse Festival in Aurillac, France where my piece End Game was performed. I also taught a few master classes at the festival. I’ve been invited back, along with members of The Kearns Dance Project, to perform and teach at La Manufacture Dance Center in Aurillac, France in May 2013. I am currently preparing for that tour (fundraising, selecting repertoire, rehearsing, et cetera…).

Thanks to Lauren Kearns for sharing a bit about her work and her process!  The Kearns Dance project performs in Boone October 25, in Greensboro November 3, Wilmington on January 11, and Charlotte on January 26.  

Up next on the blog: a profile of Gary Taylor, artistic director of the Winston Salem Festival Ballet!

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