This performance was my inauguration to real-time composition. I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect. Before the performance, I studied the space, lighting and fabric suspended from trusses wondering what I got myself into.
Dancers entered. Movement. Chaos. Symbiosis. Energy. Flow. No music for first 10+ mins. (Technical difficulties.) No matter.
During the next hour, I was moved. Unexpectedly. Sitting on the edge of my chair, literally. I giggled, frowned, got choked up, anxious, relieved, and impressed. “How do they...? What is going...? Who is...? I recognize that posture! I would've not thought to do that. Whoa.”
Wait. It's over?! No!
The Q&A session was brilliant. [Read the Transcript]
I want to see more. But I'm afraid it won't be as amazing as that was.
Bravo, SeaBus. Bravo.
And thank you.
—KH, 6/17/17 performance
Indigo is a blue dye originally made by extracting pigment from one or more of several hundred species of plant from the genus Indigofera. Dying with indigo involves repeatedly dipping a material into a vat of liquid colorant, or allowing it to steep for some amount of time in direct proportion to the intensity of color desired. It produces a range of hues from pale lilac to midnight blue-black.
Indigo plants grow throughout a wide range of tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. Scholars believe that indigo was first made roughly 2,500 years ago. Evidence of its independent discovery, production, and use has been identified on all five major continents.
Ironically, or perhaps because of its ubiquitous presence in the world, blue was one of the last colors captured (in words, and in dye) by humankind.
We steep our dancing tonight in some of this historical culture. In doing so we connect with methods and stories of making something beautiful, potent, sometimes enigmatic, and that requires the repetition and refinement of physical effort. The dance you'll see tonight is improvised within a spacious framework called a score. Ninety or so percent of it will unfurl unplanned, as we arrange and re-arrange ourselves among one another and within the context of indigo, light, and sound.
We hope to take ourselves, and you, on a journey. We aren't out searching for anything in particular. But there's a thing—that's quite literally what we call it: “The Thing”—that is us making something together, or serving as a kind of conduit, or wrestling with the unknown; that feels like at least catching a glimpse of something important we didn’t see before.
We’re watching the sky for stars.
Sea ↔ Bus
June 16, 2017
Sea ↔ Bus is a cross-country collaboration between dancers in Seattle, Washington, and Columbus, Ohio. In the summer of 2016, Seattle dancers Kori Martodam and Jonathan Lilly met Columbus dancer Josh Hines at a weeklong workshop at EarthDance in Northampton, Massachusetts. The three discovered a mutual interest in physical movement as an art form, with an emphasis on dance improvisation in performance—and Sea ↔ Bus (SEAttle + ColumBUS) was born.
The first creation by Sea ↔ Bus, Indigo, brought together ensembles from the two cities for performances in Seattle during June 16–18. The performers also include Hilary Bowen, Spring Cheng, Emily Curtiss, and Joe Shirley from Seattle, and Megan Davis Bushway, Eve Hermann, Kelly Hurlburt, and Hana Newfeld from Columbus. These two groups worked separately on similar improvisational scores and dance exercises, creating a familiarity between dancers as well as a common movement vocabulary. All dancers then met in Seattle for a weeklong intensive prior to the performance.
The dancers use their experiences and skills in collaboration to refine different contemporary improvisational dance practices including, but not limited to, group work, solo and partner work, improvisational scores as well as different compositional methods. Sea ↔ Bus is an experiment in the power of dance as a unifying language, and in the possibilities of creating performance in real time, in this moment.
JKLM Studio is a new dance company co-founded by Jonathan Lilly and Kori Martodam. Our work seeks to explore the expressive potentials of improvised composition as a performance form, while investigating movement principles in order to expand our choreographic vocabulary. Our first performance, Nomads, debuted at Velocity Dance Center this January.
JKLM exists to follow the hunch of what we imagine could happen in our collaboration; to discover unknown facets of movement and expression through a curiosity about them; and to organize our findings into a foundation upon which to build our theories and methods of making art.
Our work is created to be performed. Performance is in part a rite of passage—standing in front of an audience, tempered in the fire of that heightened attention, we see more clearly the worth of our creative and physical effort.
We want to share with an audience a sense of wonder and meaning. We want to create a place for the inter-inspiration of artists and makers. We want to make something beautiful together.
Jonathan Lilly is a martial artist-turned-dancer based in Seattle. After training in aikido for more than twenty years, he was introduced to dance, and realized that the movement skills he had been developing in the martial arts could be applied instead for artistic creation. In the past four years he has trained with many different teachers of improvisational dance, with a particular focus on a physically-based dance form called contact improvisation. Jonathan sees the practice of improvisational dance as a way to hone one’s ability to respond physically and emotionally in any situation. In his day job, he is a researcher studying ocean physics, in which he holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a PhD from the University of Washington.
Kori grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Denison University in 2003 with a BFA in Theater and Contemporary Dance. A few years and a dozen odd jobs later, she went back to school and began a career in Anesthesia. Her parents worked in the sciences, hence anesthesia, but she also had the kind of quiet but beautiful childhood that predisposes a person to poetic things. She practices the art of weaving these two lives of art and science together; balancing sense with un-proofed expression and certainty with what there is to discover in following a hunch. Improvisation is an opportunity to play in the unfolding of time and experience—to simultaneously perceive and create meaning. Kori feels very lucky to be part of JKLM Studio and Sea<>Bus; to be dancing with wonderful people!
Josh Hines graduated from The Ohio State University with a BFA in dance improvisation and performance in 2014. Since graduation he has been establishing himself as Columbus, Ohio dance artist, teacher, and improviser. He has been collaborating with Columbus Moving Company for the last three years as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. Josh finds dance improvisation is paramount for his work: “For me there is nothing more human than curiosity and living in the moment. The sincerity that improvisation generates causes dancers to become more genuine in their movement, more alive and sensitive. The applications of dance improvisation are endless and that is what I love about it so much.” More at joshramseyhines.com.
Hilary Bowen is an emerging dance artist who grew up in China and spent most of her life navigating between worlds. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2015 with a BA in creative writing and dance. Previous forays into the world of improvisation include her senior research project From the Studio to the Pasture, which investigated the connections between dance and horses. Improvisation fascinates and inspires her because it is the intersection of people and their plans navigating spaces that often call us to be highly flexible. And in those moments of openness breathtaking possibilities are released. Hilary is grateful for the opportunity to work with JKLM.
Megan Davis Bushway is a dance and movement educator based in Columbus, OH. Megan currently teaches for BalletMet, Momentum: Excellence at the Speed of Dance, and the Columbus Modern Dance Company. She regularly offers Pilates Mat and Reformer classes at the Jewish Community Center and Core Poetry. Additionally, Megan is a Teaching Artist for OhioDance and in VSA’s Adaptation, Integration, & the Arts program. Megan currently dances with Sea<>Bus and collaborates on choreographic projects with Athens-based artist Megan Yankee. Past performance credits include works by Susan Rethorst, Melanie Bales, Susan Hadley, Fritha Pengally, Cynthia Nazzaro, and Paige Phillips. In addition to her work as an educator and performer, Megan also specializes in dance film and documentation. She has been commissioned by local artists to document work and is the videographer for OhioDance. Megan received an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a BA in Art Therapy and Dance from Springfield College. More at www.megandavis.org.
Spring Cheng is passionate about improvisation with elements such as movement, music, theatre, voice and the alchemy of those. For three decades, she has been cultivating her life force, called Qi in her native Chinese culture, through movement traditions such as Qi Gong and Tai Chi. Currently Spring is pursuing channeling this life energy into creative expression in a way that resonates with the field of the audience and the larger collective. She has been performing and producing shows at Velocity Dance Center and Taoist Studies Institute. More at springcheng.com.
Emily Curtiss graduated in May 2016 with a BFA in Choreography and Performance from the University of Montana. At UM she fully participated in choreographing and performing in concerts and at ACDA conferences, and culminated her time there by producing her own evening-length production of performance improvisation. While in Montana she also performed with Bare Bait Dance Company and Headwaters Dance Company. She spent much of the summer at Ponderosa's PORCH improvisation/training module, where she continued to explore her interests in experimental movement and improvisation as performance. Since recently moving to Seattle, she has performed in Alana O'Roger's show Into Ice as an ensemble member, participated in Renee Bolke’s piece Sunken Cities for the Bridge Project, and has continued to work on solo improvisational work. She also has a passion for teaching dance, and enjoys teaching creative movement for children and dance fitness. More at http://emilycurtiss.weebly.com.
Eve Hermann studied visual and literary art at Indiana University. She has danced in Columbus, OH, since 2012 in works choreographed by CoCo Loupe, Nicole Garlando, Michael Morris, Christeen Stridsberg, and Jeff Fouch. She was a company member of Columbus Moving Company for the 2014–2015 season. From late 2013 to early 2016, she owned and operated Feverhead, a warehouse rehearsal and performance space in Columbus providing low-cost rentals for the performing arts, including: dance, theater, and music. Her performance work is primarily based in structured improvisation and presence practices influenced by Gaga, Butoh, and body awareness exercises. She is a licensed massage therapist, Craniosacral Therapy Practitioner and Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner in Training. More at http://evehermann.com/dance.
Kelly received a B.F.A in Dance at The Ohio State University in 2014, with a special focus in Alternative Medicine and Movement Therapies. She has currently set roots as an artist and dancer in Columbus, Ohio where she can be found teaching at BalletMet and Artisan Dance, creating new works and facilitating modern and improvisational dance in the community. She continues into her 3rd year collaborating and dancing with Columbus Moving Co(CMCo). She is also thrilled to be dancing with Sea<>Bus, a company of two parallel collectives in Columbus and Seattle, both researching and exploring improvisation in performance. She has performed in works choreographed by the likes of Bebe Miller, Susan Van Pelt Petry, Rami Be'er and Noa Zuk. Kelly spent half a year training and performing in Israel, she danced and collaborated in a film project set in the natural landscapes of Denmark; directed by Ann Sofie Clemmensen, and she has led workshops, both at home and abroad, in Denmark and China. Her interests in holistic health and alternative medicine have influenced her dancing and teaching styles, allowing her to focus on creating safe, mindful and wholesome experiences for movers and makers; both novice and experienced.
Hana Newfeld is an emerging dance artist. She was born into a family of yogis that granted her the space to have an open mind and body. Through yoga and never being able to sit still, she found dance at the age of 14 and quickly became enamored with the endless possibilities of the body. Along with dancing, she dove deeper into yoga and has become a certified teacher. She is now completing her final year of her BFA in Dance from The Ohio State University where she has tested the connections between dance and mindfulness. She also discovered film to be the medium to display her process of weaving these movement forms. She will continue to search and explore these methods through creating art.
Joe Shirley plunged into dance with Group Motion Friday Night Workshops in Philadelphia in 1987 and performed with Ausdruckstanz Dance Theater in 1989 before traveling west to seek his destiny. After a few years in Montana performing with the Whitefish Theater Company, he arrived in Seattle where he studied improvisational dance over the years with too many great teachers to count. With his partner Spring Cheng, he is co-founder of Resonance Path Institute where he facilitates and teaches Feelingwork, a practice of focused awareness into the subtle dimensions of being. More at resonancepath.org/.
Christopher Hydinger's The Antenna Project provides instrumental live-scores (improvised, context-specific audio compositions) for all variety of experiences including extended duration performance, yoga, meditation and other movement-based classes, events, performances and happenings, films, ceremonies and gatherings of all kinds. He employs electric guitar, an effects pedal, and various methods of interfacing to create full-registered music ranging from subdued waves of droning minimalism to exuberantly celebratory maximalism. While in Seattle he has performed at venues such as Benaroya Hall, Neumos, The Crocodile, Chop Suey, On The Boards, the Henry Art Gallery, Northwest Film Forum, and the Triple Door, sharing the stage with such acts as Low, Woven Hand, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), The Gossip, Sun City Girls, The Makers, Tara Jane O’Neil, Kinski, The Dead Science, and Climax Golden Twins. He is currently active in The Music of Grayface, 3844, and The Antenna Project. More at wcsartanddesign.com.