NEXT STEP: Kiyon Gaines, A look at the softer side of choreographer

PNB School students. Photop © Rex Tranter.

I have an insatiable need for speed as both a dancer and a choreographer! I ‘m not quite sure when it began, but for me the faster it can be the more exciting. Much of the work that the audiences here in Seattle have seen from me has a vitality and fervor that is complimentary to the kind of dancer I am. I like to include my audiences on adventures with me as well as the dancers because I want the audiences to be a part of the work. I am always thinking about the public when I am choreographing because as much as we dance for ourselves as artists we dance equally as much for our patrons and supporters. When making new work, I often think to myself, “what would be really exciting to witness?”

Last year’s work, 10: Un –A’ frayed Edges was all about excitement and frenetic energy. I wanted to play with speed, angles and formations. I wanted to use lots of dancers and experiment with different groupings. The goal was really three fold. First, I wanted to challenge my dancers so that they could become amazing artists. Second, I aimed to create a work that would keep the audience enthralled and eager for more, and the last goal was to challenge myself to create to an original score by Aaron Severini. A lot of the movement phrases sliced across the stage, and sharpness and attack were the motivations for a lot of the movements. 10: Un –A’ frayed Edges was colorful and fantastical and it is also the polar opposite of the new work I am creating this year, Divergences.

PNB School students. Photop © Rex Tranter.

Divergences is literally a departure from my normal “style” that many audiences have become accustomed. The most glaring difference in this new work is that there are no pointe shoes to be found. I wanted to try to build different vocabulary force myself into uncharted territory. The music is the haunting composition entitled Child by David Lang. It is soft and quiet, and starkly different from the fast paced 10 of last year. I have decided to use two dancers this year, and give them an inspiration to draw from, the feeling of loss. During the process I think that both dancers are really beginning to believe the story that they are creating together. This year it’s not about connecting to the audience through their excitement, but rather reaching out to their emotions. The movements are simple, smooth and sometimes erratic. I wanted to use my voice as a dance maker to attempt to say something completely different. My aim was to use choreography as a vehicle through which to convey emotions through the artists, to appeal to the audience’s emotions, and to explore my own feelings about dancing and dance making.

Just as every dancer ought to have the opportunity to explore different facets of themselves as performers, choreographers should also have chance to explore the different facets of their visions. I hope you enjoy my slight departure this year.

PNB School students. Photop © Rex Tranter.

Please come and share in NEXT STEP, an evening of dance created by this year’s great choreographers and performed by the stars of tomorrow. – Kiyon Gaines, PNB Company dancer & choreographer

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