Meet the Artist: Diego Carrasco Schoch
October 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Meet Diego Carrasco Schoch. He is a Durham based dancer and director of the company Diego Carrasco Dance. This year at the North Carolina Dance Festival he’ll be presenting A Place Apart. This piece began with the desire to use Beethoven’s incredibly romantic and beautiful Adagio sostenuto from the Moonlight Sonata and an interest in the representation of intimacy and an intimate space between men. What emerged was a piece about two men craving a space that is separate from the world we inhabit, a space that offers some protection and insulation from a world that is often tragic, ridiculous, trivial, and at times overwhelming. Keep reading to learn more about this week’s featured artist!
Diego Carrasco Schoch is a choreographer, performer, and educator located in Durham, NC with 25+ years of experience in the field. Performing as a soloist for North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and as a Principal with Milwaukee Ballet, his repertoire included leading roles in works by Alvin Ailey, Alonzo King, David Parsons, José Limón, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, and Marius Petipa, to name just a few. As an instructor, he has been on faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the Milwaukee Ballet School. He also serves as an Assistant Repetiteur for the Salvatore Aiello Trust. He has choreographed for Milwaukee Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.
Drawing from his Chicano heritage, he often explores themes of duality, gender, identity, and spirituality and embeds his work with Latino imagery, rhythms, and ideas. He recently self-produced his own concert at the Carrack Modern Art, where his new company Diego Carrasco Dance debuted.
Dance Project Interviewed Diego earlier this year and this is what he had to say.
Dance Project: Your piece is called A Place Apart. How did you come up with the title?
Diego Carrasco Schoch: The title reflects the idea that the two figures crave a space that is separate from the world we inhabit, a space that offers some protection and insulation from a world that is often tragic, ridiculous, and trivial. Secondly, because the dancers begin in the audience, the stage is literally “a place apart” from us, the audience.
DP: What came first– the text and music or the choreography?
DCS: I began the project wanting to use the Adagio sostenuto from the Moonlight Sonata, but at the beginning of rehearsals, I didn’t play it. I concentrated on the kinetic/thematic material first. Only when I had several phrases and was ready to connect them, did I begin playing the music in rehearsal and, with the dancers’ help, figuring out the phrasing and order of the phrases. I knew the duet would be longer than the music, but didn’t worry about it until about midway through the process when I could see how the dance was developing and understand what it wanted to say. Once I felt I understood the dance, I began working with a sound designer and at that point I realized I wanted to use text to help delineate the world we are in from the world the dancers eventually inhabit onstage.
DP:Where did the text come from? How did you pick it?
DCS: The text is taken directly from current ads and news items. Each time the piece is done, we re-record the text to reflect the current time.
DP: What made you cast two male dancers?
DCS: At the time of the premier, I was interested in how intimacy between men is represented and wanted to explore those possibilities without necessarily making something that was ‘romantic.’ I understand how audiences can perceive romance between the men when they see the piece, and that’s ok, but it wasn’t my focus at the time. When I look at the dancing bodies in front of me, male and female, I merely try to understand the possibilities and challenges they present and proceed from there.
DP: Because of your strong ballet training, do you look for that technique when casting your dancers?
DCS: Not really. Ballet training doesn’t necessarily equal good technique. It is merely one of many different techniques for training physical and spatial awareness. Good technique to me is a tool the dancer uses to focus the audience’s attention on specific details and engage the viewers on a visceral and kinetic level. I look for clarity, curiosity, spirit and honesty in a dancer. I also like dancers who get excited about details, particularly the ‘how’ of what they are doing as opposed to the ‘what,’ and are active participants in the rehearsal process and bring something ‘to the table’ to share. I am wholly unimpressed by tricks – distorted alignment without meaning, high jumps, high legs and extreme flexibility. That isn’t dancing, it’s affectation.
DP: What do you hope the audience will come away with?
DCS: I want the audience to follow the dancers on their journey and be transported with them, for a few moments at least, to a place where beauty, tenderness, and mutual support are the important values.
Want to see the show? Check our schedule to see when the NCDF will be in your neighborhood!