I have met a lot of incredible human beings in Berlin, and Katrina Elizabeth is one of those who influences my understandings of choreography and dance. Trained as a contemporary dancer at the San Francisco Conservatory and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, she is a mover first and foremost. She believes the body, this fleshy thing which we are stuck with is our most intelligent guide and friend throughout this life. Through poetry, movement and music she aims to trigger dormant cracks and corners of her body into memory, into movement. She calls this, embodied memory.’ Most of these memories are complex, grey areas-the grotesque. This year, she starts the experiment into working with others in this grey area, by creating the dance company Ephemera Dance Company. As artistic director, she collaborates with an amazing team of women to trigger their memories of the border, the places in between.
I believe the body, this fleshy thing which we are stuck with is our most intelligent guide and friend throughout this life. Through poetry, movement and music I aim to trigger dormant cracks and corners of my body into memory, into movement.ーKatrina Elizabeth
Elizabeth was motivated to found her company by a lack of compassion and rhetorical shortcomings she witnessed in her life as a professional dancer. As a dancer she often found herself being objectified by the choreographers I worked with. Most of this objectification was unconscious on the part of the men and women she worked with. Objectification it was, nonetheless. EDC is her venture into treating the body and memory with utmost care, a research into vocabulary, into the body, into the triggers which a life in a dance setting can hold. To value the collaborators as people first, and movers/musicians/filmmakers second.
Why did you choose to create a females only environment for your company?
EDC is a women’s company because we work with embodied memories. Often these are quite ugly places to go into. First and foremost, I decided to work only with women in order to create a safer atmosphere. Secondly, I think in dance (as with most fields) women are treated differently than men- in terms of everything from movement vocabulary to salary. I wanted to make a women’s company in order to create an opportunity for women in the arts. Finally, I am a fan of the female figure (female-identifying, by which I do not mean genetically female necessarily but anyone who identifies as a woman) I believe identifying as female changes the way we move through the world. I am a big fan of this movement, I call it, the fembody expression.
What is it mean to you for being a female in your professions?
I’m going to be unpopular for this answer…I think it’s tougher for us ladies. There are so many more women in dance that it is inevitably more competitive for us to get jobs. Furthermore, as a choreographer, I have repeatedly seen male choreographers move ahead of myself. Sure, they are brilliant, but often I think, as in most professions, there is a subconscious bias that moves people away from seeing and appreciating a woman in a high-level position.
Ephemera Dance Company is my act of resistance. It is me telling the dance world that it IS in fact possible to create a safe, successful, and professional environment within a dance context.ーKatrina Elizabeth
What’s the concept behind your latest production?
The Greek word “Kairos” means the ‘opportune time.’ It is an alternative to chronological time, instead, it is the amalgamation of meaningful moments. “Kairos” is a collage of memories. Six dancers, six poems, six stories. Each dancer moves through her own score, sometimes encountering others on the way, in trios, duets and group choreographies. With “Kairos” I worked with the brilliant electronic musician E.L.L.I (Katja Kettler) who created an original score for the show. This score integrates elements of text recited by the dancer. In “Kairos” we investigate the borders between movement and text, memory and body. It is playful, heartbreaking and poignant to look into the embodied memories of these brave women.
How does the creating process go with your team?
We work with a combination of structured improvisations and choreography. We always begin with the text. Each dancer is given a series of questions from me. I then abstract their answers and create poems from them. These poems then become the scores for a structured improvisation. As such, the movement becomes the living explication of the poem. I also collaborate with Kamilla Gylfadóttir on film and through her lens catch a glimpse of where the moment needs to go. With that glimpse, I then fill in the rest of the piece with my own choreography.
Anything you would like to share with youth interested in creativities?
Whatever the creative medium you have chosen to work with, wake up every day and tell yourself: “Today I will define dance/art/music/film/etc. anew.” Do not let the medium you are working in define you. It must be treated as a living being, ever changing, ever ephemeral, ever just beyond your grasp. As artists, it is our duty to try to capture glimpses of the definition of our field. Each day we must wake up and be open to seeing dance (in my case) as a completely new and ever-changing phenomenon.
With many thanks to Ephemera Dance Company & Katrina Elizabeth
For more information about Ephemera Dance Company please see their viemo and Facebook.
Original article in Mandarin contributing to Red Bull please see the link.