All Premiere Insights: Andrew Bartee on Choreographing



Choreographer & Company dancer Andrew Bartee.
Photo by Lindsay Thomas.

My Creative Process
I recently had the realization that I have been working on my piece for ALL PREMIERE for almost a year. I wish that I had realized sooner what a luxury that amount of time was. Not that I misused the time I had, but as opening night draws nearer I’m caring even more about developing the concept of the work. I want to keep pushing it. During this process I learned a lot about myself, how I think and create, what kind of dance I like, what’s important to me about dance and art, and life. And now I feel like there is so much more to explore.

My InspirationI think the first inspiration for my work is my desire to move. Dancing is my whole reason for being, and it’s really the only thing I want to do right now in my life. I want to dance a lot, all the time, for as long as I can. Creating dance and movement is an outlet for that desire to move. The specifics of each piece depend on where I am at in my life. But my need to dance never goes away.

On Collaboration
I am really excited to have had the opportunity to work with Barret Anspach on this project. He is Julilard grad, the brother of Jessika Anspach, and a great composer. I only knew a little bit about him when I started looking at his music. He had this really cool website that made it wonderfully easy for me to stalk him for a while, until we made official introductions through Jessika.

I had originally asked him to make some music I could use for a Next Step piece, but then Peter asked me to create something for the Company and so our project morphed into something more complex.

There weren’t many challenges inside the collaboration because I wanted to give Barret a lot of freedom so that he could also make something that he was really proud of. We talked a lot in the beginning about my intentions for the piece, and what kind of feelings and moods I wanted to evoke. I really love what he has written for arms that work. I think the music sets the scene perfectly.

Challenges
My most daunting challenge was teaching movement to the dancers. Though they are super quick, sometimes their understanding of the movement is not true. Every rehearsal requires me to focus very intensely, and find new ways to explain what is happening in my body when it moves. Each dancer has their own internal rhythm, and getting them to synch with mine is a challenge. But everyone was super open to hearing my ideas. I so appreciate everyone’s openness to try some really weird stuff.

Next for Me
Choreography has begun to take a place in my life, and that is something that I am very excited about. I just had a premieres at the Seattle International Dance Festival, and Velocity’s Fall Kick Off. I am working on a piece for Chop Shop in February, the Next Step show on PNB School students in the spring, and I actually have a few other choreo gigs on the horizon. This is a year of creation for me.

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