Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Interview with Sammi Rosenfeld

Irene Vandenberg along with Ayana, Sarah, Jeffrey, Riley, Nadia, and Kiri worked with senior BFA student at The University of Michigan, Sammi Rosenfeld, to create another piece for the Freshman Touring Company. Irene got to interview Sammi and ask her about her piece and life as a Michigan student. Take a look!

Q: What's the name of the piece?

A: All Views Are Partial

Q: What is the story behind the piece?

A: The piece is inspired by a scene from the book, "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith where a girl named Clara relays her memory of growing up in a basement apartment:

"The Bowden living room sat just below street level, and had bars on its window, so all views were partial. Generally, she [Clara] would see feet, wheels, car exhausts, swinging umbrellas. Such slight glimpses were often telling; a lively imagination could squeeze much pathos out of a frayed lace, a darned sock, a low-swinging bag that had seen better days" (25).

Because Clara Bowden's windows are segmented with bars and only show the feet of those passing by, Clara literally has a forced partial view of the world around her. Consequently, so that she may have a complete view of her world, Clara creates identities of the pedestrians based off of the visual cues offered to her.  Clara's experience lives as a great metaphor to remind us that we create opinions of others or the world around us based off of fragmented data and pathos.  Nothing we see is fully true. 

Q: How did you decide on what music would be appropriate for the dance? Was this a challenge for you? And do you prefer to choreograph before, after, or during the music searching process?

A: Finding music for my choreography is always a challenge for me. Usually my choreography starts with a concept that I analyze and clarify for myself. Then I go searching for music which is difficult because I usually have an idea in my head of what I want the music to sound like and of course that exact music only exists in my imagination. I scan the internet for a sound I enjoy and each piece I listen to alters my idea of the structure of the piece and usually even the concept.  By the time I find my music I have a structure and a concept that has both inspired my music choice and was inspired by my music choice.

For "All Views Are Partial" I wasn't exactly sure of the music I was looking for and therefore relied heavily on my music search to inspire the structure of the piece as well as clarify my music preference.  I eventually found my music by searching music genres on ITunes which is a very laborious way of picking a soundscape.  And in the end the music I chose actually crafted my piece even more so than my initial brainstorm.

My choreographic process is never finished until the dance hits the stage and even then little details are always being worked on. Going into this work my only goal was to push myself to organize even less, control even less, and plan even less before I entered the studio each time.  I wanted to work with more flexibility and more spontaneity than I had in past experiences to let the piece really form fit the dancers.  I have recently come to believe that spontaneity in the rehearsal process allows for more readable honesty and surprise in the final work.  Therefore, the choreography happened after the music was chosen.  And with the exception of a phrase, the freshman dancers directly inspired or created the choreography.

Q:  Did the number of dancers pose a challenge for you as you began to set the piece?

A: The number of dancers was simply inspiration.

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of choreographing for the FTC class?

A: The most rewarding part about choreography for FTC was my cast! FTC rehearsals are late, long, and sometimes not even the last part of a long day of dancing, school, and work. But no matter how tired, sick, or achy my dancers were they were already ready with a smile and professionalism and kept their concentration throughout rehearsal and for that I am greatly thankful. Furthermore, there is nothing greater than working with intelligent dancers who are ready to combat whatever creative or logistic problem you throw at them. And in return this piece is just as much their as it is mine. 

Q: What was the greatest challenge of choreographing this piece?

A: The greatest challenge in this process was dealing with the limited amount of rehearsal time. I am very detail oriented and usually like to edit each section about 50% before I move on to the next but that really wasn't an option here. Any editing had to be left to end so that I could feel confident that a full piece would be created. This required a lot of release of control on my part and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish.  

Q: As a graduating senior, what advice would you give to these dancers and future members of FTC?

A: Choreograph as much as you can and dance in as many pieces as you can while still maintaining your health and happiness.  Its hard to find dancers, a venue, work, costumes, classes, once you graduate. But on the other hand life/dance won't be enjoyable if you let your health take the backseat. So balance!
Sammi Rosenfeld

Q: What is your favorite part of dancing and living in the University of Michigan community?

A: Nothing beats the people here. Especially in the dance department. Kind, warm, hard working, talented, supportive, down-to-earth, awesome. 

Q: Who was your favorite choreographer when you were a part of FTC?

A: Ironically my favorite choreographer during FTC was Nadia Tykulsker, a senior at that time.  The work was powerful and funky and I loved the change of pace from some of our more subdued, stylized works. Her choreography was successful and different and it was inspiring to see such a piece come from one of my peers.  I went into this process certainly with hopes to relay some of my experience with Nadia to the current FTC members. 

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